1 Month of Dinners—Planned: Your Menu for Week 1
By Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., August 28, 2013 - 11:45am
What’s for dinner? I used to agonize over this question pretty much every night, not knowing how to balance what is already in my pantry with what everyone wants to eat. But this month, EatingWell’s Test Kitchen manager, Stacy Fraser, has solved this problem for me and you too! Stacy carefully crafted a 28-day dinner plan incorporating our favorite healthy recipes from the September/October 2013 issue of EatingWell Magazine. The weeknights focus on quick, easy recipes that you can make on a busy night; on the weekends, you get to indulge your love of cooking a little more and prepare some meals that provide an extra dinner so one night later in the month you don’t have to cook at all, simply reheat!
My favorite part of the meal plan: the variety of delicious, healthy meals. Every week, you’ll get to enjoy foods from different cultures: Italian, Chinese, Mexican and American. And in addition to the recipes from the magazine, there are serving suggestions, often extra veggies, prepared really simply, such as roasted cauliflower or sautéed spinach, to make it a balanced meal.
So for the month of September, I invite you to cook along with me! Each week I’ll let you know the week’s dinner plan and recipes and give you little cooking hints. And to make your life even easier, I’m writing your grocery lists for you too!
Here’s This Week’s Menu:
Sunday: Eggplant Parmesan
Serve with: Sautéed spinach
I’ve always been a big fan of Sunday suppers—sitting down to a home-cooked meal filled with warmth from friends, family and food. So to start our 28-day meal plan, we’re choosing Eggplant Parmesan, a classic Italian home-style dish that fills your house with yummy smells as it bubbles away in the oven. However, instead of the traditional fried eggplant covered with mounds of cheese, we’ve given eggplant parmesan a healthy makeover by baking the eggplant instead of frying it and using just enough shredded cheese to make the layers perfectly gooey without adding too much salt and fat. This healthy eggplant parmesan recipe is part of our “cook once, eat twice” series, so you’ll make two 8x8-inch eggplant parmesans, enjoying one tonight and freezing the other so that in a few weeks, when you just need something for dinner, you can just pop it into the oven.
To round out the meal, add some sautéed spinach: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick pan. Add 1 teaspoon chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in a 12-ounce bag of baby spinach and cook until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.Monday: Chickpea & Chorizo Fideos
Serve with: Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
As a pasta-lover, this chickpea and chorizo fideos, a Spanish dish made with toasted whole-wheat pasta, garlic and tomatoes, is one of my favorite recipes from the September/October 2013 issue. To accompany the fideos, try crispy Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower, so good it’ll even convert noncauliflower lovers. Have your entire meal ready and hot all at once by making the cauliflower first, then while it’s roasting cook the fideos. With the fideos only dirtying one pot and cooking in 25 minutes, you can’t ask for an easier Monday-night meal.
There is something so wonderful about a big pot of stew. This recipe simmers chicken, mushrooms, turnips and kale in a garlic-rosemary broth, creating a rich and hearty meal that needs nothing more than olive bread to sop up the last little bits. You can make this easy recipe for olive bread or buy a loaf at the market. If turnips aren’t your thing, try potatoes instead.
Wednesday: Rosemary Lentils & Greens on Toasted Bread
Serve with: Sliced tomato & red onion salad
Either with your leftover olive bread from last night or with a crusty country loaf, this dish of rosemary lentils and greens is a delicious midweek meal. We like it with a sliced tomato and red onion salad while tomatoes are still in season. For the salad, combine 3 sliced large tomatoes and 1/2 sliced red onion. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Studded with briny olives, bright lemon zest and a touch of dill, this healthy, easy salmon cake recipe is perfect for dinner and is part of our “cook once, eat twice” series. You can serve these salmon cakes like a burger on a whole-wheat bun or paired with a mixed green salad. Either way, we like them topped with tzatziki, a creamy cucumber and yogurt sauce.
For Friday, we’re pairing Cowboy Beef & Bean Chili, made with a whole bottle of beer, mushrooms and kidney beans, with the most delicious healthy cornbread I’ve ever eaten. While your chili is simmering, whip up a batch of the cornbread and while the cornbread is baking, cut up an avocado and the remaining half of your red onion (from your tomato and red onion salad on Wednesday) to serve with the chili. For an extra-special Friday treat, add the leftover 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (from the eggplant parmesan on Sunday) to the cornbread and crack open another beer. Hello, weekend!
Saturday: Duck Chiles Rellenos with Belizean Habanero Hot Sauce
Serve with: Rice & Quick Guacamole
You’re in for quite a treat today! Instead of traditional fried chile rellenos stuffed with cheese, we’ve loaded these peppers with grilled duck, veggies, almonds and raisins. As delicious as they are impressive, these Duck Chile Rellenos can also be made with chicken (and are even easier with a purchased rotisserie chicken). To give them an extra kick, we’re making hot sauce, but instead of all peppers, we’ve added carrots for sweetness and to sneak in another veggie. Serve with brown rice and guacamole.
How do you plan your meals for the week? Tell us what you think below.