Even if you love to cook, with after-school activities and other events taking up precious evening hours, making a healthy dinner some nights can feel like a chore. In this week's meal plan, we've chosen seven healthy dinners that are perfect for prepping ahead, so you can get most of the prep work done and out of the way in about an hour on Sunday. With some light prep during the week, dinner will be on the table in a flash. This easy-to-follow plan will save you time and energy when weeknights get busy.
Sunday To-Do List = 1 hour
1. Make the Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup recipe (steps 1-2) and freeze. Start this recipe early in the day, as it needs 8 hours in the slow-cooker.
2. Make the marinade for the Chile-Marinated Skirt Steak (Carne Asada en Adobo de Guajillo) and refrigerate.
3. Make the socca batter for the Tomato-Pesto Socca and refrigerate.
3. Prepare salad greens and refrigerate.
4. Make the Roasted Chickens for tonight's dinner. Carve the second chicken and reserve the meat for the Creamy Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe.
5. Make a big batch of brown rice. Refrigerate some of the rice to have with the Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani and freeze the rest, to use later in the week for the Thai Fried Rice recipe.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Roasted Chickens: In this easy roast chicken recipe, two whole birds cook side-by-side on one pan, which means you only have to heat the oven once but you'll have enough leftover chicken for days. Enjoy this dish with the juicy roasted veggies that cook under the chicken and with a side of brown rice. The prep-work for this recipe should only take about 20 minutes, plus 2 or so hours to cook.
Remaining prep: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Tomato-Pesto Socca: Move over, pizza dough. Socca (pronounced SO-kah), the thin chickpea crêpe popular in Italy and France, makes a tasty gluten-free alternative crust that takes significantly less time to make than traditional pizza dough. Top with tomato, mozzarella and pesto, as we've done here, or get creative and use other types of cheese, vegetables and even meat, such as prosciutto.
Monday Night Prep: Follow step 1 of the Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani recipe and soak the urad dal and kidney beans overnight. In the morning, add the remaining ingredients and turn the slow-cooker on low. You can pre-chop the onion, garlic, and ginger and combine the spices together tonight to save time tomorrow morning.
Remaining prep: 5 minutes
Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani:
Using a slow cooker for this dal curry recipe is brilliant—the lentils cook until they're perfectly tender. For the creamiest results, use whole urad dal (versus split), which you can get online or at Indian markets. This particular bean breaks down beautifully, giving the dish its rich, creamy texture. Serve the dal over brown rice (which you already have made) with Indian-style green chutney and a side of plain yogurt.
Remaining prep: 20 minutes, if you didn't already make it on Sunday
Creamy Buffalo Chicken Salad:
In this Buffalo wings-inspired chicken salad, Greek yogurt replaces more than half of the mayonnaise. We like the flavor of Frank's RedHot hot sauce, but Sriracha and Tabasco are delicious options too. This dish will be ready in a flash since, especially when using the cooked chicken from Sunday. Serve this healthy chicken salad as an open-face sandwich or scoop it on top of fresh salad greens.
Wednesday Night Prep: Take the extra brown rice out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge for dinner on Thursday.
Remaining prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes
Thai Fried Rice:
This Thai fried rice recipe is flavored with garlic, mushrooms and pork but feel free to use any vegetable, protein or rice you have on hand. You already have your riced cooked, so you can skip step one. Or for a vegetarian fried rice recipe, omit the pork and add more vegetables or tofu.
Thursday Night Prep:
Begin marinating the steak for tomorrow's Chile-Marinated Skirt Steak
dinner. The recommended time to marinate the steak is anywhere between 2 hours and 1 day. If you already made and froze the Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup
, start defrosting it in the refrigerator tonight so it's ready to go for Saturday.
Cook time: 17 minutes
Chile-Marinated Skirt Steak (Carne Asada en Adobo de Guajillo):
In this Mexican-inspired steak recipe, dried chiles are toasted, soaked and pureed to make a flavorful marinade. Toasting the chiles in a heavy, dry skillet is the key to unlocking their flavor (not just their heat). You can find dried chiles in the produce section of many markets. Because you already made the marinade, all that is left to do is let the steak soak up the flavors for anywhere between 2- to 24-hours and then grill it to perfection. Serve the steak with black beans and a leafy-green salad.
Remaining prep: 3 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup:
In this genius slow-cooker soup recipe, two types of onions are caramelized for hours before adding a sherry-spiked broth. Since you already made the soup earlier in the week, all you have to do for dinner to be done is make the cheesy bread. For a bistro-worthy presentation, you could ladle the soup into ovenproof crocks, top with the bread and cheese and broil.