Weekly Meal Planning
Weekly Meal Planning
Meal planning has come a long way since Mom’s tried-and-true Meatloaf Monday, Pork Chop Tuesday weekly routine. By incorporating smart strategies like batch cooking and leftover reinvention, and stocking your pantry wisely with bold spices and seasonings, you can create two weeks of easy, full-flavored organic meals that never feel predictable.
Making a meal plan goes beyond just filling in squares on a calendar. A good plan will reflect your household’s flavor preferences, utilize pantry contents artfully, and provide the makings of equally satisfying lunches or reengineered leftover meals later in the week. And you’ll know they are meals you can feel good about when you build your plan around Simply Organic spices, simmer sauces and seasoning mixes.
Meal planning lets you shop less frequently while creating organic meals that are full of flavor all week long. Many cooks find meal planning is a real money saver, as it’s easier to stay within a food budget when you aren’t tempted to order takeout or pick up prepared food at the last minute. And, if you make the process collaborative, it’s also a good way to get buy-in from other family members, resulting in fewer mealtime battles. All good reasons to make meal planning a bi-weekly priority. Here are our essential tips for successful meal planning:
Start with Flavor
The most workable meal plans are those that put flavor first, so let your favorite organic spices and seasonings be your guide. As you sit down with your calendar, think of the tastes that really excite you. If Southwest flavors are your jam, slot in a weekly Mexican meal, rotating between tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, or chili. You can also use those flavors to enliven old standbys like sheet-pan dinners and roasts. If Fridays have typically been a night to order in, schedule a “Make Your Own Takeout” night instead, using Simply Organic Simmer Sauces to stir up your own Pad Thai or a spicy Indian-inspired curry. When you start with flavor rather than a specific recipe or protein, your meal plans practically write themselves while allowing you to vary the ingredients week to week.
Plan for Leftovers
When you’re making your meal plan, think about using leftovers to jumpstart later meals. Let Monday’s Southwest sheet-pan chicken give you a head start on Wednesday’s chicken tortilla soup or enchiladas; turn leftovers from Tuesday’s General Tso’s glazed salmon into a nourishing protein bowl or an elegant salad for lunch on Thursday. Capitalize on this rollover technique for both dinners and lunches, and you’ll automatically ensure you’re eating healthy, wholesome organic meals much more often.
Designate one or more nights a week for a recurring themed dinner. Maybe your theme is a sandwich night or “Breakfast for Dinner” with Korean BBQ sliders or chicken chilaquiles at the center of the plate. As long as it’s fairly open-ended and flavor-forward, it won’t get tired, and you won’t feel like you're reinventing the wheel every time you step into the kitchen. Better still, you’ll be creating a family activity that everyone looks forward to.
Schedule Pantry Meals, Don’t Resort to Them
Slotting an organic pantry meal or two into your bi-weekly meal plan is a good way to give yourself a bit of flexibility while minimizing food waste. Simply Organic simmer sauces and spices let you transform odds and ends plus a few essential staple items into meals that feel deliberate, not desperate! Pull out tortillas and a pouch of Simply Organic Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce and then go to town with any proteins and veggies you have on hand. Stir together cooked vegetables with a can of chickpeas and Simply Organic Korma Simmer Sauce, and you have a nearly instant one-dish meal — and a clean refrigerator!
Embrace Batch Cooking
Once your meal plan is blocked out, scan the week’s menus and see if there are tasks you can tackle ahead of time. Batch-cooking key mealtime building blocks is a weeknight game-changer. For many cooks, Sunday afternoon or evening works well as a prep day, but you can also simply double or even triple the quantities of the ingredients you are already planning to cook and store some for future use. After all, it takes essentially the same amount of time to trim and steam two heads of broccoli as one, and making three cups of brown rice is as easy as cooking two.
Cook up a big pot of dried beans; roast a chicken and shred and store the leftovers; brown off twice as much ground beef as you need for your meat sauce and freeze a portion for impromptu tacos or loaded nachos another night. You’ll be glad you’ve got those handy components to mix and match with the potent, pure flavors of Simply Organic sauces and seasonings in an endless variety of organic stir fries, grain bowls and curries. If your goal is to keep weeknight meal preparation to 30 minutes or less, knocking off some of the more time-consuming elements will leave you more time to focus on creating great flavors.
Stock the Pantry Well
Lastly, make a shopping list that reflects your meal plan, checking the contents of your pantry for any items that need replenishing. Don’t forget to account for condiments, side dishes and garnishes you’ll need in the coming weeks — you’ll defeat the purpose of all that planning if you need to make a last-minute market dash for chopped peanuts for the Pad Thai or a fresh lime for the tacos. And of course, make sure you have all the Simply Organic spices, seasoning mixes and sauces you’ll need to lift your meals to new heights of flavor all week long.
Now relax and have fun in the kitchen. You’ve got this!
Don’t worry if these tactics feel a little unfamiliar at first, especially if it usually takes a growling stomach to remind you to start thinking about dinner. Relying on batch-cooking, rollover meals, and cooking from the pantry will become second nature once you see how much they simplify the nightly task of making a wholesome, flavor-forward organic meal. Follow these tips Monday through Friday and your weekly meal plan routine will feel less predictable and more manageable at the same time. And, you’ll have the double satisfaction of knowing that the high-impact flavors that bring everyone to the table are grounded in the shared values that make Simply Organic products your first choice for flavor in the kitchen.
THE MEAL PLAN
Here is a week’s worth of easy, delicious organic dinners and a handful of rollover lunches (or quick dinners) to get you started. We’ve even included a shopping list!
Monday: Chicken Burrito Bowls
Start the week with build-your-own burrito bowls. Make a double batch of rice and simmer a few pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in Mild Taco Simmer Sauce. Shred the meat, then use half of the rice for the bowls and top them with some of the saucy chicken. Lay out the rest of the toppings for your family to choose from. Toppings such as store-bought salsa, sliced avocado, coleslaw mix, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped scallions or cilantro, and hot sauce are all fair game. Select three or four of the most crowd-pleasing toppings and let everyone assemble their own bowls.
Tuesday: Indian-Spiced Spinach Shakshuka
Tonight, start with Korma Simmer Sauce and use it in an unexpected way. Sauté frozen spinach that’s been thawed, or wilt and sauté fresh spinach, whichever is easiest. Then stir in some of the simmer sauce and a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk, or a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Remove half of this fragrant, Indian-inspired take on creamed spinach to a storage container to use for a rollover lunch and turn the rest into dinner. Crack a handful of eggs into the skillet and let the mixture simmer on the stove until the eggs are just set. Serve it with naan, pita, or your favorite flatbread.
Wednesday: Korean BBQ Ragu
Use your favorite meatball recipe in an unexpected way Wednesday night. Prepare the meatballs according to instructions (or reach for frozen meatballs, if you’re really strapped for time), then bake or fry them but don’t toss them in the usual marinara. Instead, simmer them in garlic and ginger-rich Korean Style BBQ Simmer Sauce. Remove half of the meatballs in their sauce to a storage container to use for a rollover lunch, then serve the remaining meatballs and sauce over spaghetti or penne.
Thursday: Creamy Masala Sweet Potato Soup
Let Simply Organic Simmer Sauce help spice up a simple vegetable soup. Peel and chop two large sweet potatoes. Dice an onion. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion. Add the sweet potatoes, a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, and enough vegetable broth to cover. Let the mixture simmer until the potatoes are tender, then blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with roasted chickpeas, Greek yogurt, and chopped cilantro for garnishing, and naan for dipping.
Friday: Thai Fried Rice (Pad Thai Simmer Sauce)
End the week with Fried Rice Friday. This themed dinner is the ultimate way to clean out the fridge after a week of successful dinners. Start with the leftover rice you batched on Monday night and give it new life by pan-frying it in a skillet and stirring in Pad Thai Simmer Sauce. Toss in whatever odds and ends you might have in the refrigerator, freezer, or dry pantry. Produce that’s almost past its prime, such as sad-looking spinach or soft carrots, can be chopped and added. Frozen peas or corn are good choices, too. Add an egg or two or leftover cooked meat for protein, or use your favorite plant-based protein. Lay out garnishes like sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, and Sriracha, if you have them, along with chopped scallions or cilantro for everyone to add to their plates.
3 No-Fuss, Rollover Lunches or Dinners
Lunch 1: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Use leftover chicken from Monday night to get a jump-start on an easy soup. Combine chicken broth with canned diced tomatoes and beans, such as kidney, pinto, or black, then stir in the rest of the taco-spiced shredded chicken. You have more topping options here, too. Crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions or cilantro, and lime wedges are just a handful of great choices.
Lunch 2: Korean Meatball Sliders
Remember those meatballs you saved Wednesday night? Use them to make quick meatball sliders! Top toasted slider buns with warmed meatballs and finish the two-bite sandwiches off with a bit of coleslaw mix and thinly sliced cucumbers for crunch.
Lunch 3: Spicy Creamed Spinach Hand Pies
You also saved some creamed spinach. Use it to make grab-and-go hand pies with the help of store-bought pie dough or puff pastry dough. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, then cut it into smaller rectangles, add a generous spoonful of creamed spinach to each, fold the dough over the filling, and crimp to seal. Bake the hand pies until puffed and golden brown.
Your Shopping List
Produce: Avocado, coleslaw mix, tomato, scallions or cilantro, spinach (if not using frozen), garlic or onions (for your preferred meatball recipe), cucumber, limes
Meat: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, ground beef or turkey (for your preferred meatball recipe
Refrigerated: Shredded cheddar cheese, heavy cream or coconut milk, eggs
Other: White or brown long-grain rice, salsa, frozen spinach (if not using fresh), naan or other flatbread, breadcrumbs (for your choice of meatball recipe), dried spaghetti or penne pasta, canned or boxed tomato soup, sliced sandwich bread, chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, canned beans (kidney, pinto, or black beans), tortilla chips, slider buns, pie dough or puff pastry dough
You're all set! Enjoy!