What to cook for dinner this week:
1.) Sheet Pan Cajun Chicken and Potatoes with Asparagus, Red Peppers & Swiss Chard and Cheesy Grits 2.) Chicken Lettuce Wraps 3.) Rosemary Braised Steak Tips over Quinoa 4.) Southwest Quinoa Salad 5.) Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup 6.) Hibiscus Tea Cocktails and Mocktails
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, making some extra Cajun Chicken means Chicken Lettuce Wraps later in the week will only take about 15 minutes. Likewise, leftover Rosemary Braised Steak makes a second appearance in the most deliciously flavorful Vegetable Beef Soup.
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.
If you’d rather cook two or three meals instead of five
Five home cooked meals in one week is not feasible or desirable for everyone. If two or three is more your style this week, Days #1, and #2 – OR - Days #3, #4, and #5 work well together, with one meal building from the next. Please note that the grocery list below is for all 5 meals.
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)
Meal Prep, Day by Day
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Sheet Pan Cajun Chicken and Vegetables with Cheesy Grits.
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. Plan on spending about 2 hours to make tonight's meal and do some meal prep that will save you a significant amount of time later in the week.
Whatever day of the week you choose as your “Day #1”, here’s your meal prep task list:
- The recipe for Cajun Chicken calls for 12 chicken thighs and a whole lot of vegetables. Leftover chicken will be used to make Chicken Lettuce Wraps on Day #2, and leftover vegetables will be served along side Rosemary Braised Steak Tips on Day #3.
- Before starting on the Cajun Chicken, mix up a batch of Cajun Spice Rub. The spice mix will be used on both the chicken and the vegetables in tonight's meal.
- After dinner tonight, remove the meat from the leftover chicken and cut it into very small pieces. Reserve in the refrigerator for Chicken Lettuce Wraps on Day #2.
- Reserve the leftover potatoes, asparagus, and red peppers in the refrigerator to serve with Rosemary Braised Steak Tips on Day #3.
Plan ahead meal prep:
- While chopping up vegetables for tonight's dinner, dice 1 red onion and two 2 cups of zucchini. Put them in separate zip top bags or covered containers for use in Southwest Quinoa Salad on Day #4.
- The Southwest Quinoa Salad on Day #4, is topped with a crumble of tortilla chips that can be purchased or homemade. Homemade tortilla chips are SUCH a treat, but not always practical. If you have the time and inclination to make them, you'll be rewarded with the best chips ever. Otherwise, a bag of purchased chips will be perfectly fine. If you are planning to make the chips and want to save yourself some time later in the week, follow the instructions in the recipe for Southwest Quinoa Salad to go ahead and make them today.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Thanks to leftover Cajun Chicken, tonight's dinner will be on the table in 20 minutes or less. If you have leftover Asian chicken from tonight's dinner, it will reheat beautifully for lunch the next day. In fact, I think it might be even better the next day!
Plan Ahead Meal Prep for Day #3:
- If you were able to find already marinated steak tips, you're good to go. If you purchased un-marinated sirloin for Braise Steak Tips (Day #3), follow the recipe instructions to marinate the meat. For best results, the sirloin should marinate for about 24 hours.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Rosemary Braised Steak Tips over Quinoa with Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus, and Red Peppers
- If you didn't get your sirloin marinating yesterday, follow the recipe instructions to get the steak in the marinade as early in the day as possible.
- Plan to make enough steak so that you have 1 to 1 & ½ pounds of meat left over for Vegetable Beef Soup on Day #5. You'll need at least ½ pound of steak for each person for tonight's dinner - more if you'll have hungry meat eaters at the table! After dinner, cut the left over steak into small pieces and reserve in a covered container in the refrigerator for use in Vegetable Beef Soup.
- Reserve whatever cooking liquid is left over from tonight's meal. It will be added to Vegetable Beef Soup as well, contributing an amazing burst of flavor!
- Double the amount of quinoa in the recipe and reserve 3-4 cups cooked quinoa for Southwest Quinoa Salad on Day #4.
- Reheat the potatoes, asparagus, and red peppers you reserved from dinner on Day #1: Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Lay the potatoes on a baking sheet in an even layer. Put the potatoes in the oven and let warm for 5 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and add the red peppers and asparagus to the baking sheet. Heat for another 5 minutes. Check to see that all the veggies are warm and cook for a bit longer if necessary. Serve vegetables along side Steak and Quinoa.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Southwest Quinoa Salad
- This salad will use up the leftover quinoa you reserved from Day #3, and will come together quickly.
- If you're making homemade tortilla chips to crumble on this fresh salad and didn't make them earlier in the week, get those going before making the salad. Just try to not eat them all before dinner is served. 😉
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup
- Having reserved some cooked steak tips and sauce from Rosemary Braised Steak Tips on Day #3, you are in for a hearty flavor packed soup that requires only about 20 minutes of hands on time. Serve with a good quality loaf of bread if you like, pour yourself a glass of wine, and bask in all your culinary glory, because everyone you serve this soup to is going to sing your praises. It's that good.
Hibiscus tea is a gorgeous ruby red tea with a sour flavor similar to cranberry. I like it so much that I keep a pitcher in the refrigerator at all times, drinking some nearly every day. It also makes an excellent addition to all sorts of cocktails and beverages, such as Hibiscus Tea Sangria and Frozen Gin Fizz, which can be made with, or without, the gin.
Suggestions for the Baker:
- Amaretto Custard Blackberry Tarts
- Mini Lime Pound Cakes
- Lemon Layer Cake with Blackberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
- Overnight Apple Fritters
- Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Big Sheet
- Vitamix Blender
- Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Cuisinart Large Non-Stick Skillet