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Meal planning may seem like a lot of work, but it can actually save you time in the long run. Having a plan can save you money on groceries, reduce food waste at home, and help you eat healthy.
Planning ahead, checking what you have and creating a shopping list will ensure that you always have what you need and consume what you have.
we benefited from Plate JoyA digital meal planning app, to create a simple and easy meal plan to get you started. These recipes are based on staples that you can keep on hand and are flexible enough to substitute ingredients when you don’t have time to shop for groceries.
This collection of five easy dinner, one breakfast, and one lunch recipes can be followed as is or used for inspiration in the kitchen. Happy cooking!
Recipe: Speedy Huevos Rancheros
This delicious, quick breakfast has the right balance of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats to keep you full and energized until lunch.
Mix the flavors by trying a green sauce or a fruit sauce, such as pineapple or mango. If you don’t have black beans, you can substitute kidney beans or pinto beans.
This recipe for Speedy Huevos Rancheros is a quick morning meal but also makes an easy 10-minute dinner.
Recipe: Quick Rice and Bean Burritos
If you’re preparing lunches on the go, this recipe is great to add to your rotation. It is easy, portable and even freezable.
Burritos can be made in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic or foil and frozen for up to three months for easy-to-carry meals. The recipe is intentionally simple, so it works with a wide range of dietary preferences.
Garnish your burrito by adding cheese, avocado, hot sauce, or some chorizo (vegetable chorizo works too). Get creative with your favorite flavors and what you have on hand.
This recipe is perfect for a weekend whisk when your fridge is looking bare. Only four simple ingredients from the pantry are needed to make the soup, but a few fresh additions will bring it to the next level.
We recommend sour cream and green onions, but chopped red onions or chives are delicious, too. You can also substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream and serve it with sweet potato chips for a bit of crunch.
Recipe: Quick chicken fried rice
We know leftovers can be a hindrance, but this recipe helps make them sparkle again! If you have leftover rice, chicken, and vegetables, you can make this family-friendly meal in less than 10 minutes.
Grilled chicken from last night and rice from the weekend? Not a problem. Put in some frozen veggies, and dinner’s almost done. If you’re more of a planner or love meal prep, you already know that cooked grains and proteins make meals a breeze.
Pre-mixed frozen veggies work well if you’re in a hurry, but you can also reduce waste and save money by using whatever fresh veggies you have on hand—just plan more time for chopping.
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Chicken thighs and thick wedges of napa cabbage are roasted with a spicy, flavorful glaze until crispy and tender. Keep the cabbage leaves together by chopping off the main stem, and grill with the chicken to allow the cabbage to absorb some of its juices.
Simple and delicious, you can serve the chicken and cabbage duo over rice or pasta or make it a low-carb meal with steamed cauliflower rice.
Eggs are often thought of as a breakfast food, but they make an easy and inexpensive option for dinner, too. This one-of-a-kind dish can spice up your dinner routine and provide you with plenty of protein at the same time.
Traditionally with minced lamb, we replace ground turkey with a healthy (and affordable) version that still draws on Moroccan flavors for inspiration.
If you don’t have kale, any dark green leaves can be used: cabbage, chard or spinach are great alternatives. To use frozen spinach, it must be thawed and drained well before adding. A little extra fluid is OK, but too much will make the eggs watery.
Recipe: Chana saj on rice
Chana saag is a mixture of chickpeas (chana) and spinach (saag) stewed in a curry sauce. This recipe adds mashed tomatoes and coconut milk for a rich, creamy sauce that balances strong spices.
If spicy foods aren’t your thing, avoid chili and opt for mild curry powder.
Using dried spices is a great way to add a lot of flavor to a dish. Buying dried spices can be expensive, but there are ways to save. Find a store that has spices in bulk so you can only buy what you need.
Check if there is an ethnic or international grocery store in your area – these stores often have fresh spices for less cost and carry a greater selection of package sizes.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be stressful, rigorous, or require you to spend the whole day in the kitchen on a Sunday. Having some easy dinner ideas, as well as a few breakfasts and lunches for the week, can help you easily build a shopping list and stick to your cooking plan.
If you’re looking for more help putting meal plans together, consider signing up for a meal planning service like Plate Joy.
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