I don't know about you, but when I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is brainstorm a meal for the night. And unfortunately, I'm just not one of those people that will be happy with a lean pocket and Diet Coke. So here's my solution - a five-day menu plan that will keep me satisfied during those grueling weekdays.
If you want to try it too, here are some quick and easy menu options and a grocery list to get you started. Do your shopping on Sunday and be set for a more than gratifying work week.
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Pantry Items Cooking oil (I prefer regular olive oil) Cooking spray Balsamic vinegar Extra virgin olive oil Chicken stock Worcestershire sauce Mayonnaise Dijon mustard Eggs Flour Breadcrumbs Sugar Salt Pepper Crushed red pepper Garlic powder
Grocery List - Amts based on servings for 2 people 1 lb lean ground turkey (or buy in bulk and freeze for future use) 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 large package of fresh spinach 1 bunch of fresh basil 1 bunch of scallions 2-3 plum tomatoes 2 heads of garlic 1 shallot 2 medium yellow onions 1 medium red onion 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes 1-2 lemons Sour cream Anchovy paste (for Green goddess dressing, omit if desired) Grated Parmagiana-Reggiano 3 oz Gruyère 8 oz fresh mozzarella Store bought pizza dough (you can even ask your favorite local pizza joint if they sell pre-made dough) 1 loaf rye bread (use extra for sandwiches during the week) 1 can crushed tomatoes 1 box rigatoni 1 box couscous 1 bottle dry white wine (always buy one that's good enough to drink!)
Day 1 - Turkey Meatballs & Rigatoni
Combine ½ a medium onion diced, 5-6 cloves garlic minced, 1 egg, and 1 lb ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Divide mixture in half (one for meatballs, one for turkey burgers).
For the turkey burgers: To mixture, add 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Heat a shallow pan over medium heat, coat with olive oil. Make a test patty, cook and taste before continuing. Adjust seasoning if needed. Form remaining mixture into 2 patties, wrap individually in plastic and freeze for use later in the week.
For the meatballs: To mixture, add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil, ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated parm, salt, and crushed red pepper and mix until combined. Make a test patty, cook and taste before continuing. Adjust seasoning if needed. Roll the mixture into meatballs of desired size. Cook over medium heat, turning on all sides until browned and cooked through.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ¾ of diced onion and sauté until softened, then add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, salt, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, and a pinch of sugar. Cover and simmer over low heat. Add meatballs and allow to simmer for 30 min.
Bring large pot of water to rapid boil. Add salt - don't be stingy, this should taste like seawater. Add desired amount of rigatoni and cook until al dente, about 1-2 min less than package instructions. Toss with grated parm and ½ the sauce. Add meatballs and enjoy!
*Extra sauce can be frozen and used later in the week for the Margarita pizza.
Day 2 - Grilled Chicken & Spinach Salad w/ Green Goddess Dressing
Place ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breast in bowl or plastic bag and add 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of Dijon mustard, ½ lemon squeezed, chopped basil, minced garlic, and salt & pepper. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and add chicken. Brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes on each side. Let rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
Meanwhile, prepare salad. Toss fresh spinach (reserve about ½ cup for the stuffed chicken later in the week) with plum tomato wedges, and sliced red onion. Prepare the green goddess dressing. Top salad with sliced grilled chicken and prepared dressing.
Day 3 - Turkey Patty Melts w/ Sweet Potato "Fries"
Defrost prepared turkey patties from Day 1.
Preheat oven to 450 deg. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into ¼ inch fries. In mixing bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Top with sliced scallions.
Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium heat and coat with olive oil and butter. Add 1 medium onion sliced, and cook until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. In another grill pan, add olive oil and cook defrosted turkey burgers until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Spread 4 slices of rye with butter and add to pan. Top 2 slices with sliced gruyère (reserve ½ of block for stuffed chicken later in the week). Add caramelized onions, turkey patties, and top with other slice of rye. Grill until bread is golden and cheese is melted. Serve with sweet potato fries and desired condiments.
Day 4 - Gruyère & Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts w/ Herbed Couscous
Prepare couscous according to instructions. Top with sliced scallions.
Place ½ chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound until ¼ inch thickness. Top each chicken breast with a slight smear of butter, fresh spinach leaves, and sliced gruyere cheese. Fold in half and secure with toothpick. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add chicken and sauté until browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Add minced shallot and cook until translucent, then add minced garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Add ½ cup dry white wine and scrape up bits. Allow to reduce by half and add ½ cup chicken broth. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer until reduced by ½ again. Finish the sauce by whisking in 1 tbsp butter. Serve over chicken and prepared couscous.
Day 5 - Margherita Pizza
Defrost tomato sauce from Day 1. Purée in food processor for smooth consistency.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Coat sheet pan or pizza sheet with olive oil and roll out store-bought pizza dough. For a crisper crust, pre-bake the dough without toppings for 4-5 minutes. Spread sauce evenly over the dough and sprinkle with a handful of grated parm and sliced fresh mozzarella. Top with fresh basil and sliced plum tomatoes. Bake until crust is golden and cheese has melted, another 7-9 minutes. Serve with remaining bottle of white wine (or more - hey, it's the end of the work week!) for maximum enjoyment.