What to cook for dinner this week:
1.) Simple Roast Chicken with Sautéed Asparagus and Mustard Potato Salad 2.) Cream of Asparagus Soup 3.) Taco Salad with Pork Carnitas 4.) Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Pineapple Coleslaw 5.) Black Bean and Tomato Soup 6.) Cocktail: Hibiscus Tea Margaritas
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.
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 three meals instead of five this week...
If three home cooked meals is more your style this week, Days #1,# 2, and #5 - OR - #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.
Before you grocery shop: This week's meal plan includes instructions for cooking homemade chicken broth and dried black beans in the slow cooker. You'll find details for how to make slow cooker chicken broth in the meal prep instructions for Day #1 and details about making slow cooker black beans in the meal prep instructions for Day #2. Both are super simple to do, requiring only a few minutes of prep work and letting your slow cooker do the rest.
However, you can use prepared chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth) in Cream of Asparagus Soup on Day #2 and Black Bean Tomato Soup on Day #5, or canned black beans for Taco Salad on Day #3 and Black Bean Tomato Soup on Day #5. Just adjust the shopping list accordingly.
You also have the option of making homemade croutons to top Cream of Asparagus Soup on Day #2 or purchasing a package of prepared croutons.
Meal Prep, Day by Day
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 couple of hours on Sunday to make getting dinner on the table that much easier the rest of the week.
Roast one or two chickens depending on how much your family will eat and whether or not you'd like some leftover chicken in your refrigerator or freezer. This week's meal plan won't use any leftover chicken in any other recipe, but if you think it might be nice to have some roast chicken in your refrigerator for lunch, or if you like having roast chicken in the freezer, roast two or more.
You'll notice in the Roast Chicken recipe that there are two different methods. Both methods create perfect roast chicken for minimal time and effort. However, one does require you to soak your chicken in a buttermilk marinade for at least 24 hours. If this is the method you choose, be sure to get your chicken in the marinade at least 24 hours before you plan to roast it.
If you'd like more information about each roast chicken method as well as information about how to truss and salt a chicken, please take a look at this post: 2 Fool Proof Methods for Roast Chicken.
- Don't forget to reserve the bottom portion of tonight's asparagus stalks in a zip top bag or other container in the refrigerator. You'll use them in Cream of Asparagus Soup on Day #2.
- Reserve leftover potato salad to serve with Pulled Pork Sandwiches on Day #3.
After Dinner Meal Prep:
- Make Chicken Broth. After dinner, if there's any leftover chicken, pick it off the bones and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Use the chicken bones to make this ultra simple chicken broth , letting it cook in the slow cooker overnight (stovetop instructions are included in the recipe if you'd rather go that route.). You'll use it to make Asparagus Soup on Day #2 and in Black Bean and Tomato Soup on Day #5. The next morning, strain the broth from the bones. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To Get an Even Bigger Jump on the Rest of the Week:
- If you make the Pineapple Coleslaw and Mustard Sauce for the Pulled Pork Sandwiches today, they will only take about 10 minutes to get on the table on Day #4. Making the Pineapple Coleslaw ahead of time is especially useful because the recipe calls for allowing the vegetables to dry out for a while before tossing them with the pineapple and dressing.
- If you plan to make Homemade Croutons to top Cream of Asparagus Soup on Day #2 (and I sincerely hope you do!), you might want to make those today. You can also make them on Day #2 while the Asparagus Soup simmers away on the stove.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Cream of Asparagus Soup.
- Use the chicken broth you made on Day #1 for this soup along with the bottom portion of the asparagus you reserved. Reserve remaining chicken broth for Black Bean Tomato Soup on Day #5.
- If you didn't make homemade croutons on Day #1 and want to make them today to top your soup, do so while the soup is cooking.
Optional After Dinner Meal Prep:
- Slow Cooker Black Beans . If you like, get a batch of Slow Simmered Black Beans in the slow cooker tonight, letting them simmer overnight. This will take you about 5 minutes of prep work and give you beans for 2 meals this week far superior to canned. Reserve in a covered container in your refrigerator. These will be used for Taco Salad on Day #3 and Black Bean and Tomato Soup on Day #4.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Taco Salad with Pork Carnitas
- Get the Slow Cooker Carnitas for tonight's taco salad going in the morning. They'll take around 6-8 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low. I've also let them cook in the slow cooker overnight on low, allowing me to just pull the tender pork from the slow cooker in the morning, throw it in the refrigerator, and finish it up that evening. So, you could start them in the slow cooker the night before if you prefer.
- Use about 2 cups of the slow simmered black beans you made on Day #1. Reserve the rest for Black Bean Tomato Soup on Day #5.
- If frying tortilla strips for tonight's taco salad, double the amount called for in the recipe, reserving the extra for Black Bean Tomato Soup on Day #5. If using tortilla chips, reserve the leftover chips for the soup.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Pineapple Coleslaw
- If you made the Pineapple Coleslaw and Mustard Sauce on day #1, these sandwiches will take about 10 minutes to get on the table. If not, no worries. Thanks to using the leftover Pork Carnitas from Day #3, they'll be on the table in the time it takes to slice vegetables for the coleslaw, toast some buns, and whisk together the mustard sauce.
- If you didn't make the Pineapple Coleslaw ahead of time, do that first, as early in the evening as you can. The recipe calls for allowing the vegetables to dry out a bit before tossing with pineapple and dressing.
- Serve tonights pulled pork sandwiches with leftover Mustard Potato Salad from Day #1.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Black Bean Tomato Soup
- Tonight's black bean tomato soup will come together in about 20 minutes, thanks to those leftover black beans you made earlier in the week.
- If you have time, consider making a batch of homemade tortillas to serve with this soup. Homemade tortillas are surprisingly easy and sooooo good dipped in warm bowls of this soup.
This Week’s Featured Cocktail: Hibiscus Tea Margaritas
- Stainless Steel Strainer (To strain Cream of Asparagus Soup)
- Crock Pot Slow Cooker (for making homemade chicken broth, black beans, and pork carnitas)
- Roasting Pan (To roast chicken)
- Cuisinart Non-stick skillet (a non-stick skillet is used in multiple recipes)
Suggestions for the Baker:
- Classic French Napoleon
- The Fluffiest Blueberry Pancakes
- Soft and Chewy Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- Triple Berry Plum Pie