What to cook for dinner this week:
1.) Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos, 2.) Veggie Black Bean Nachos, 3.) Slow Cooker Green Chili Burritos with Black Beans and Cheese, 4.) Spanish Potato Soup, 5.) Loaded Baked Potato Bar, 6.) Cocktail: Orange Margarita
On this page, you’ll find a meal plan for the week. Each meal is designed to build on the previous night’s efforts by using leftover ingredients. A little = a lot. You’ll also find a preparation schedule and grocery list.
Your Meal Plan for This Week:
- Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos and tossed salad
- Veggie Black Bean Nachos
- Slow Cooker Green Chili Burritos with black beans and cheese, and tossed salad
- Spanish Potato Soup
- Loaded Baked Potato Bar
(A shopping list for this week’s meals is at the bottom of this page)
- Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos
- Veggie Black Bean Nachos
- Slow Simmered Black Beans
- Slow Cooker Green Chili Burritos
- Spanish Potato Soup
- Loaded Baked Potato Bar
- Perfect Baked Potatoes
- Orange Margarita
Meal Prep, Day by Day
One of the most prominent ingredients in this week's menu is cheese. In fact, 4 of the 5 recipes in this meal plan call for cheese. If you're a devoted cheese lover like me, this is great news. 🙂 But, if that's too much cheese for you, don't worry - you can leave it out of any of the recipes and they will all still taste delicious. Here's how:
- The Carnitas Tacos on Day #1 do not have to be served with cheese. Or, serve them with cheese, and let each person decide whether to add it to their tacos.
- It might sound strange to serve nachos without cheese, but the Black Bean and Veggie Nachos on Day #2 are loaded up with so much deliciousness, you won't even miss it.
- The Green Chili Baked Burritos on day #3 also do not have to be baked with cheese. Fill them with whatever ingredients you like, and bake them covered in Green Chili, leaving out the cheesy topping.
- The cheese is a completely optional ingredient in Spanish Potato Soup on Day #4. Sometimes I add it, and sometimes I don't. Do as you like.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos and tossed salad.
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 the Carnitas going in your slow cooker in the morning. The meat will take 8-10 hours on low or 6-8 hours in high to cook, plus about 30 minutes for shredding and broiling the meat before serving.
- Be sure to reserve the remaining chipotle peppers in adobo and the leftover cooking liquid from the pork roast. Both will be used tomorrow for Slow Cooker Green Chili.
- Sauté a total of 6 red peppers and 3 large yellow onions in batches. (Do not over crowd the pan) Serve ⅓ of the peppers and onions with the tacos tonight. Reserve the other ⅓ for Veggie Black Bean Nachos and ⅓ for Loaded Baked Potatoes.
- As long as you're chopping peppers and onions - dice one red pepper and one yellow onion for the Potato Soup on Day #4. Put them together in an air tight container or zip top bag and reserve in the refrigerator.
- Reserve 2-3 cups of Carnitas for Slow Cooker Green Chili, and another 2-3 cups for Spanish Potato Soup. Freeze the remaining leftover carnitas according to the instructions in the recipe. I like to freeze them in zip top bags with about 2 cups of carnitas per bag.
- Chop enough veggies for a large salad that can be served along side tonight's tacos and the burritos on Day#3. While you're at it, chop up the radishes and tomatoes for Veggie Nachos on Day #2.
- Unless you purchased pre-grated cheese, grate or crumble 1 cup of cheese for tonight's tacos. Then, grate 2 cups of cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for Veggie Nachos on Day#2, 4-6 cups of cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for Baked Burritos on Day #3, 1 & ½ cups of sharp cheddar cheese for Spanish Potato Soup on Day #4, and 1-2 cups of whatever cheese you have left over for Day #5's Baked Potato Bar.
- Get a head start on Day#3's Slow Cooker Green Chili by completing steps 1-3 of the recipe, and then refrigerating the chili base until ready to use. Making the base will only take about 20 minutes, and makes it so that assembling the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker on the morning of Day #3 will take about 5 minutes.
- If you want to make the flour tortillas for Day #3's burritos from scratch, you might want to do that today as well. If you've never made homemade tortillas, I encourage you to try it. They are much easier than you might think, and infinitely better than anything you can purchase. You might even want to make enough to serve alongside Spanish Potato Soup on Day #4.
Optional meal prep: If you really want to get a jump on the week, go ahead and bake 4 potatoes for the Baked Potato Bar on Day #5. Allow the potatoes to cool completely, then store in an airtight container or zip top bag in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees or in the microwave.
You can also go ahead and fry the chips for Veggie Black Bean Nachos on Day #2. But if you do, you might want to plan on making quite a few extra to allow for the inevitable snacking that will happen before nacho night rolls around.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Veggie Black Bean Nachos
- Options: You can use Slow Simmered Black Beans or canned Black Beans for this dish. Totally up to you. Cooking black beans in a slow cooker takes about 5 minutes of prep work, then you just let them cook on low for about 6 hours. You'll have enough beans for tonight's nachos and the burritos on Day #3. But, if you'd rather skip that step, go right ahead and use canned black beans for both. By the way - if you do go ahead and cook some dried black beans in your slow cooker, you'll probably have some left over, even after using them in Day #3's burritos. This is great, because they freeze really well. Add them in 1 cup portions to freezer bags and pop them in the freezer for the next time a recipe calls for black beans.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Slow Cooker Green Chili Baked Burritos and tossed salad
- In the morning, get the green chili going in the slow cooker. If you already made the chili base on Day #1, this will only take you about 5 minutes. Otherwise, plan on about 25 minutes.
- Even though it's been cooking in the slow cooker all day, plan enough time in your evening to allow the Green Chili to thicken on the stovetop for about 1 hour before it's ready to eat. At that point, you can either serve it immediately, allowing each person to assemble a burrito and top it with Green Chili, or proceed to make baked burritos.
- If you make baked burritos, you'll probably have some leftover. They heat up wonderfully for lunch.
- Reserve approximately 2 cups of the Green Chili for the Baked Potato Bar on Day #5. The rest can be frozen. I like to freeze this in 2 cup portions in zip top bags.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Spanish Potato Soup
- Thanks to reserving some leftover pork Carnitas, this flavor-packed soup will be on the table in about 40 minutes. As is the case with most soups, you have plenty of options with this recipe. To make a lighter version of the soup, leave out the sour cream and cheese - or reduce their amounts. You can also make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable broth and leaving out the pork carnitas. The potatoes cooked in the broth are perfectly delicious all on their own.
What’s for Dinner Tonight: Loaded Baked Potato Bar
- This is simply "leftover night" transformed into an actual new meal. Perfect baked potatoes couldn't be simpler to make and are an excellent blank canvas for all sorts of leftovers. In this case, you can dig out pork carnitas, green chili, sautéed red peppers and onions, jalapeños, cheese, sour cream, chives, cilantro... whatever leftover ingredients you have from this week's meal plan transformed into a gourmet feast.
- If using leftover Carnitas that you put in the freezer earlier in the week, remove from the freezer and allow to defrost in the refrigerator all day, or defrost in the microwave.
This Week's Featured Cocktail: Freshly Squeezed Orange Margarita
Suggested Recipes for the Baker:
- Lemon Blackberry Layer Cake
- Double Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
- Mixed Berry Muffins with Streusel
- Low Sugar, Gluten Free Pineapple Muffins
- For Slow Cooker Carnitas, Green Chili, and Black Beans: A Slow Cooker
- For Green Chili and Spanish Potato Soup: A Dutch Oven
NOTE: If you made homemade red enchilada sauce and slow simmered black beans as a part of Winter Meal Plan #1, you might have some leftover enchilada sauce and black beans in your freezer. Hoo-ray! Use them! If not, purchase prepared canned or frozen enchilada sauce, and canned black beans - OR purchase a bag of dried black beans and cook them according to this recipe on the morning of Day #2.