Easy Week Before Thanksgiving | Meal Plan Menu

Before Thanksgiving arrives, our meal plan menu helps you manage your cooking time with a few of 2017’s best recipes!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • November 16, 2018

The last thing anyone wants to do is spend a lot of time cooking new recipes for dinner before even getting to Thanksgiving. That’s why we are bringing back 3 of 2017’s favorite meals that are quick, easy, and efficient! This way, you don’t have to resort to drive-through dinners, but also don’t have to learn any new recipes on an already cooking-heavy week.

Each of our recipes take less than 35 minutes of active prep / cook time, and both of Monday’s and Wednesday’s meals use slow-cooker carnitas so you can cook once for two different dinners. Also, since poultry is the star of Thursday evening, we make sure to give you variety with both of the pork and veggie dinners featured this week.

However, if you are looking for some Thanksgiving menu ideas, check out our free recipe book of fast Thanksgiving favorites here.

“We keep busy, but even with our busy schedules, we know that cooking meals for our family is important and is a priority.”

Erin and Matt K. (Members since August 2015)

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

Meal Planning Smarts

ingredient tips:

  • For our slow-cooked carnitas, you can use either pork shoulder or pork butt. Since these often come in larger cuts than the recipes call for, it’s a great idea to make extra since cooked, shredded pork freezes well.
  • When we tested Wednesday’s recipe, we found that frozen waffle fries (or sweet potato waffle fries!) worked wonderfully as a base because they hold up well under all the delicious toppings. However, if you’re in an experimenting mood, you can definitely try tater tots, other frozen fries, or tortilla chips as well.


  • When you know you’re going into a busy week, it’s always a good idea to prep over the weekend. In fact, the onions and garlic for this week’s meals can be sliced and diced up to 5 days before you use them. If you need these aromatics for your Thanksgiving recipes as well, do it all at once the weekend before and you’ll be thankful once Thursday rolls around!


  • Pork, carnitas, sliced veggies, and tortillas all freeze well, so you can keep any extras to save you time in the kitchen as the holidays get into full swing. Make sure you download our All-in-One Freezer Guide for more freezing smarts!
  • After a Thanksgiving feast, you may crave something healthy. Luckily, leftover carnitas go great with sautéed bell peppers and onions and served over quinoa for a hearty grain bowl.
  • If you’re making any stuffing for Thursday, use any leftover chard, mushrooms, garlic, and onions for a deliciously nutritious stuffing!

Tips for smarter meal planning come with every meal plan menu. The smarts above are only a portion of the tips we include to help you make the most of your ingredients and cook more efficiently. Join our community to get the full benefits of our meal plan service!

On the Menu

MONDAY | Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos with Mexican Side Salad

Spiced carnitas (Mexican pulled pork) combine with avocados, onions, and salsa for a quintessential taco that is totally addictive. With this recipe, you can feed a crowd by simply letting your slow cooker do the work for you! Serve these juicy tacos with a fun Mexican-inspired side salad that features a bright honey, lime, and red wine vinegar dressing.

Those on a gluten-free diet need only buy corn or GF tortillas for their tacos while vegetarians substitute the carnitas with spiced cauliflower. Those on the Paleo diet can enjoy all of the goodness of tacos in fresh lettuce cups with a side of spiced cauliflower.

TUESDAY | Creamy Chard & Mushroom Stroganoff with Egg Noodles

This vegetarian stroganoff with chard and mushrooms hits all the same creamy notes as its meat-based counterpart, but takes much less time to prepare. Served over satisfying egg noodles, this delicious dish is perfect for cool weather and is great for sharing!

This naturally vegetarian recipe is easy to make gluten-free with GF fusilli (consider trying Trader Joe’s GF egg noodles!). Our Paleo recipe version uses a chard and mushroom sauce over seared chicken with a side of spinach, cranberry, and pecan salad.

WEDNESDAY | Leftover Carnitas Waffle Fry “Nachos”

In this Cook Smarts community favorite, we use waffle fries instead of chips for an exciting new way to enjoy nachos! With leftover carnitas from Monday, these “nachos” come together fast and are a definite crowd-pleaser. Since it’s so easy to customize these with your favorite toppings, pile on whatever strikes your fancy and snap a few fun photos (because you know Instagram will be all over this!).

This fun recipe is already free of gluten and is easy to make Paleo by using sweet potato waffle fries and doing without the sour cream. Meanwhile, our vegetarian nachos pack in the protein with beans, lentils, and soyrizo.

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 11/19/18 via Cook Smarts

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