Give yourself a break from cooking this week with an easy meal-prep dinner plan. With make-ahead steps you can do on Sunday and ingredient shortcuts that help cut down on prep during the week, you'll get dinner on the table each night with little to no cooking required. To keep things quick and simple, the recipes in this meal plan rely on preprepped or no-cook ingredients, like rotisserie chicken, prechopped veggies, canned beans and frozen edamame. For the recipes that do involve light cooking or prep, the make-ahead steps on Sunday will get most of the work out of the way, and your trusty slow cooker will take care of the savory Split Pea Soup with Chorizo on Day 1 and the Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup on Day 7.
1. Make the Split Pea Soup with Chorizo in the slow cooker for dinner tonight. As it cooks, move on to the other meal-prep steps for the week.
2. Make the quinoa for the Black Bean-Quinoa Buddha Bowl and freeze until ready to use.
3. Make the Curry Chicken Salad and hold in the refrigerator.
4. Chop the vegetables for the Greek Salad with Edamame and refrigerate.
Split Pea Soup with Chorizo: The slow cooker does most of the work in this easy soup recipe—simply add the ingredients and let it do its thing! If you can't find raw chorizo, Italian sausage or merguez makes a fine substitute.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: Always keep a few cans of chicken broth in you pantry to use as the base for a quick and flavorful soup, stew or sauce. Look in the produce section of the grocery store for preprepped onion, carrots and potatoes to cut down on chopping time.
Greek Salad with Edamame: Edamame adds protein to the classic Greek salad combo of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and olives. If you've already prepped the veggies ahead of time, this salad will be ready in less than 10 minutes. Serve the salad with toasted whole-wheat pita bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with dried oregano.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: Keep a bag of shelled edamame in your freezer to use as a quick vegetarian protein source.
Watercress Salad with Grapes, Blue Cheese & Pecans: This salad formula will never let you down: toss leafy greens with fruit, cheese, nuts and a simple vinaigrette. If you can't find watercress, substitute with arugula, baby spinach or baby kale. Top this salad with salmon to round out the meal with a serving of satisfying protein.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: Rather than cooking salmon yourself, use canned wild-caught salmon or buy a precooked salmon fillet from the deli section of the grocery store.
Black Bean-Quinoa Buddha Bowl: This black bean and quinoa Buddha bowl is like a healthier version of taco salad—we've loaded it up with pico de gallo, fresh cilantro and avocado, plus an easy hummus dressing to drizzle on top. If you made the quinoa ahead of time and stored it in the freezer, simply defrost the quinoa in the microwave or let it thaw overnight in the fridge.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: Use canned black beans and store-bought hummus and pico de gallo to save on prep time. Batch-cooking grains and freezing in individual portions can be a super-fast dinner shortcut when you're in a pinch. The next time you make Basic Quinoa or Easy Brown Rice, double the recipe and freeze what you don't use.
Curry Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps: A little bit of curry powder turns up the flavor in this savory chicken-salad recipe. Wrapped up in a big crisp green lettuce leaf, this low-calorie, high-protein dinner recipe is a fresh alternative to the traditional chicken-salad sandwich.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: Pick up a rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken breast from the deli section of your grocery store to use in this recipe.
Mixed Greens with Lentils & Sliced Apple: This salad with lentils, feta and apple is a satisfying vegetarian entree to whip together in just 10 minutes. Serve with a chunk of whole-wheat bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: To save time, use drained canned lentils—just make sure to look for low-sodium ones and give them a rinse before adding them to the salad.
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup: This easy slow-cooker chicken noodle soup is chock-full of vegetables and noodles, and gets extra creaminess from a little light cream cheese.
Fast Dinner Shortcut: To cut down on prep time, pick up precooked chicken from the deli section of your grocery store, look for a prechopped mirepoix mix (celery, carrots and onion) in the produce section and use presliced mushrooms.