What to cook for dinner this week:
1.) Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Rice and Beans, & Perfect Sautéed Vegetables 2.) Steak Tacos with Pico de Gallo 3.) Lip Smacking Vegetarian Chili with Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread 4.) Pasta with Sausage and Vegetables 5.) Cornbread Salad 6.) Cocktail: Pepper Blossom
If you’re not familiar with this blog, here’s the basic idea:
Using some of the same ingredients in multiple dishes throughout the week is the key to getting delicious, wholesome, good for you, home cooked meals on the table several nights of the week. The recipes in each 5-day meal plan include some prep-work for another meal later in the week.
For example, in this week’s plan, Grilled Flank Steak is topped with Chimichurri Sauce one day, then folded into tacos another. Slow Cooker Beans make a delicious side dish and form the basis for an easy Vegetarian Chili that even meat lovers will adore. Homemade Pico de Gallo adds a pop of flavor to both the tacos and the chili. Sautéed Vegetables are served alongside steak and folded into pasta. Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to Vegetarian Chili and also creates a surprisingly good Cornbread Salad.
Like every other meal plan on this blog, this week’s recipes are designed to make healthy, delicious, home cooked meals every night of the week much easier with each meal building on the previous night’s efforts. A little = a lot.
Meal Prep, Day by Day
*This meal plan is based on a family of 4 with a couple of meals making more than 4 servings so that you have some leftovers for lunches, etc. At the start of the week, take a quick glance through each day’s “PLAN AHEAD” notes and plan accordingly.
(A shopping list for this week’s meal plan is at the bottom of this page)
For me, “Day #1” is usually a Sunday, and it’s the day with the most heavy lifting when it comes to meal prep for the rest of the week. I am always so grateful to myself for taking a few of hours on Sunday to make getting dinner on the table that much easier the rest of the week.
Whatever day of the week you choose as your “Day #1”, here’s your meal prep task list:
- Get a batch of Slow Cooker Beans going in the morning – they’ll take 4 hours on high and 6 hours on low. The beans will be mixed with rice and served as a side dish tonight and used in Vegetarian Chili on Day #3. (You can substitute canned beans if you prefer. You’ll want a total of 4 cans, any combination of black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans.)
- Make Chimichurri Sauce . This sauce will take about 10 minutes to make. Spoon it over Flank Steak tonight and reserve the leftover sauce in the refrigerator to top Vegetarian Chili on Day #3.
- Mix up a batch of Grilled Flank Steak Dry Rub , and use it to season tonight’s steak.
- Make rice and beans: Cook 1 & 1/2 cups of dry long-grain rice according to the package instructions. Add the rice and about 2 cups of beans to a saucepan set over low heat. Ladle in about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the beans. Cook just long enough to heat through, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reserve leftovers to serve with Steak Tacos on Day #2.
- Make Perfect Sautéed Vegetables . Serve half of the vegetables tonight. Combine the remaining bell peppers and onions in a container and reserve in the refrigerator for Steak Tacos on Day #2. Reserve the remaining asparagus for Pasta with Sausage and Vegetables on Day #4.
- Follow this recipe to grill 4-6 pounds of steak. How much you grill really depends on how much you think your family will eat. An average serving is 1/2 to 3/4 pound per person. Make enough for dinner tonight with 2 pounds left over for tacos on Day #2.
To Get a Jump on the Rest of the Week:
- Prepare Pico de Gallo . Reserve in a covered container in the refrigerator for Steak Tacos on Day #2 and Vegetarian Chili on Day #3.
- Follow the first step in the recipe for Vegetarian Chili to roast, peel, and chop the poblano peppers. Store in a covered container and reserve in the refrigerator. This meal prep task can be done the night you make the chili, but doing it now will save you about 10 minutes.
- Follow the instructions in the Vegetarian Chili recipe to cook tortilla strips. You might want to fry up a few extra because it’s impossible not to snack on these while you make them. 😊
- Thanks to the prep work you did on Day #1, tonight’s steak tacos will be on the table in about 15 minutes. Simply follow the recipe to warm the tortillas, reheat the steak, red peppers, onions, and rice & beans you cooked on Day#1, pull the Pico de Gallo from the refrigerator and dinner is served.
- If you haven’t made the Pico de Gallo yet, get it prepared before making the tacos. Reserve leftover pico for Vegetarian Chili on Day #3.
- If you didn’t roast the poblano peppers on Day #1, do that first because they’ll need time to cool. (Follow the first step in the recipe instructions .)
- Get the cornbread batter mixed up so that you can let it bake while you prepare the chili. (Or, enlist a helper so one of you can make the chili and the other can make the cornbread.) *The cornbread recipe will make 8 servings. Serve 4 tonight, and reserve the other 4 for Cornbread Salad on Day #5. If you need more than 4 servings of cornbread for dinner tonight, just double the recipe.
- If you haven’t already, while the chili simmers, grate 1-2 cups of cheese and follow the instructions in the recipe notes to fry some tortilla strips while the chili simmers on the stovetop.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Sausage and Vegetables
Tonight’s meal comes with a bonus tutorial: Pasta Making with Judy (Pasta Making 101). My friend Judy is a pasta making queen, so using her tutelage to create this “how-to” post was a no-brainer.
Making homemade pasta is, of course completely optional. If you’ve never made fresh pasta, and have the inclination, the tutorial will walk you through the ins and outs of pasta making. Fresh pasta is nothing more than flour and eggs, and requires only the patience to knead dough and run it through a pasta machine. It’s superior in flavor and nutrition. But, it does take some time.
If you don’t have time, just use purchased dried egg fettuccini noodles.
- Remember the leftover sautéed asparagus you cooked on Day #1? Pull that out of your refrigerator, you’ll need it for this pasta dish.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Cornbread Salad with Sausage and Tomatoes
- This recipe will use up the leftover Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread you reserved from dinner on Day #3 and extra sausage you cooked on Day #4. It is a surprisingly unique way to use up leftover cornbread that might have you making cornbread just so you can make this salad.
This Week’s Featured Cocktail: The Pepper Blossom
Gin, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, sliced Jalapeño, and fresh basil come together for a deliciously balanced and refreshing blend of spicy, sweet, and sour.
Suggestions for the Baker:
- Mini Lime Pound Cakes
- Cherry Turnovers with Cream Cheese and Almonds
- Red Velvet Cake or Cupcakes
- Strawberry Cake with Pistachio Buttercream
Several of this week’s recipes require a large skillet and a heavy bottom saucepan. If you don’t have these two items, here are the ones I suggest. If you’re planning to try your hand at homemade pasta, I highly suggest investing in a pasta machine. I’ve made homemade pasta without one and it’s a pain in the you-know-what.
There are probably a lot of good pasta machines out there, but the one below is what I use, and I recommend it highly. A food processor makes quick work of chimichurri sauce, amongst many other things. It’s another appliance in my kitchen that I don’t know what I’d do without.
- Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Cuisinart Large Non-Stick Skillet
- Marcato Atlas Pasta Macine
- Cuisinart Food Processor