Fast Dinners | Meal Plan Menu

It’s back-to-school season! With this week’s meal plan menu, you can prepare dinners that are easy, fast, and healthy for the whole family.

  • By Jess Dang
  • August 10, 2018

It’s that time of year again when summer vacations are winding down and suddenly our to-do list is a mile long. There are errands to run, appointments to get to, and maybe one last fun summer outing. Whether you are getting ready for back-to-school or simply looking for more of a routine, we are here to help you prepare quick and easy dinners that go from prep to dinner table extra fast.

Just because they’re quick doesn’t mean these back-to-school dinners can’t be fresh and healthy. Our meal plan menu this week features best of the season tomatoes and avocados, summer salads, and noodle dishes chock full of fresh veggies.

There’s no need for drive-thru dinners or take-out when you have our recipes at your fingertips. Our weekly meal plan service comes with a complete grocery list that you can access from your smartphone, tablet, or home computer.  (Save the paper and pens for school supplies!) Once you are at the grocery store, you can click through the list and check off everything as you go. To save even more time, you can send the weekly grocery list to your Instacart.    

We will also show you how to maximize your time this week with tips for meal prep that can be done several days in advance, and how to use leftovers that are perfect for lunchboxes.

“Everything is SO easy with Cook Smarts that I’m much more likely to make a healthy meal than just cop out and order a pizza!”

– Brian P.  (Member since Dec 2014)

All meals come with gluten-free, Paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps.

Meal Planning Smarts


  • We recommend using a higher quality block of cheddar cheese in the salad and pasta this week for extra flavor and better melting qualities. (Pre-shredded cheese often includes preservatives that can prevent it from turning creamy as it melts.)
  • A great Paleo substitute for regular noodles are kelp / yam noodles. They have a somewhat crunchy texture that makes them fun to eat, and you can find them in the produce or specialty foods section. Or, feel free to use spiralized zucchini “noodles” instead!

Dinnertime Shortcuts:

  • Shredded rotisserie chicken is one of our favorite shortcuts for a quick week of meals. Buy one chicken and shred the meat to use in two meals (8 servings!) this week.  
  • Want to save on dishes? When boiling Tuesday’s pasta, add chopped broccoli at the last minute of cooking so that both pasta and broccoli finish cooking at the same time. No need to use a separate pot for cooking broccoli!

leftovers for lunch:

  • Toss extra rotisserie chicken with some barbecue sauce and fill in rolls. Or try these easy Rotisserie Chicken & Rice Burritos and get more ideas for healthy school lunches!
  • Use leftover (or make extra) creamy herb dressing for dipping vegetables or pita chips as a fun lunchtime side or snack this week.
  • Hard boiled eggs are a great protein-filled snack to have on hand or pop in lunches for the week, so make a few extra eggs for the week when prepping for Wednesday’s salad. (Hard boiled eggs can be made up to 5 days in advance).

On the Menu

MONDAY | Avocado & Tomato Toast + Romaine, Cheddar & Chickpea Salad

Avocado toast is a trend that’s here to stay, not only because avocados are packed full of healthy fats but because avocado toast is so delicious and easy to prepare. Kids, babysitters, or the novice cook can help prepare this meal, so get them involved to help you save time this week!  

Creamy avocado is mixed with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, topped with fresh tomato slices, and served on toasted sandwich bread. A refreshing side salad of crispy romaine lettuce, cucumbers, chickpeas, and tangy cheddar cheese rounds out this satisfying meal.

This recipe is vegetarian-friendly and can easily be made gluten-free by using your favorite GF bread. Our Paleo variation is a mouth-watering Fried Egg Breakfast Stacker. (Which anyone can enjoy for breakfast later in the week, as well!)

TUESDAY | Cheddar Shells with Rotisserie Chicken & Broccoli

There’s something about cheesy pasta that just screams comfort food and we know this dish will be a welcome addition to your busy week. And good news – this family-favorite dinner cooks up quickly and you don’t need to turn on the oven!

We take all the goodness of a warm, cheesy pasta and kick up the nutrition a notch by adding broccoli and chopped rotisserie chicken. Garlic, Dijon mustard, and nutmeg are added to increase the flavor of the dish in subtle ways.

To make this meal gluten-free, simply use any GF pasta and GF flour you prefer. Paleo members will love this Chicken and Broccoli Saute with Bacon and vegetarians can enjoy all the comforts of cheesy pasta with Latin-Spiced Cheddar Shells.

WEDNESDAY | Summer Deli Cobb Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

This twist on Cobb salad has been a Cook Smarts favorite over the years because it’s fresh, healthy, packed full of protein and veggies, and it’s easy to put together to boot! Keep the dressing on the side so everyone can add as much dressing to their liking, and any undressed leftover salad could be made into a wrap for lunch the following day.

This recipe is already gluten-free, but if you’d like to make this salad meatless, you can leave out the deli meat and add homemade toasted bread cubes and pistachios for a hearty crunch. The Paleo variation on this recipe substitutes pepitas for the corn and tahini for the yogurt in the herb dressing.

THURSDAY | Chicken Soba Noodles

An easy homemade brown sauce coats the soba noodles and vegetables in this quick weeknight dish, which comes together in a flash thanks to pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. This dish can easily be made in large batches and is great for lunch, too.

Quick-cooking soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which isn’t wheat at all, so they are a great gluten-free noodle. (Just make sure to read the ingredient list, as some soba noodles may contain wheat.) Our gluten-free members will use Tamari in place of soy sauce. Our Paleo version uses kelp or yam noodles. Tofu replaces the chicken in this recipe for vegetarians.

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 8/13/18 via Cook Smarts

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