Bold and Fresh Flavors | Meal Plan Menu

This week’s meal plan menu uses spice blends and sauces to give easy weeknight dinners layers of bold, fresh flavor.

  • By Jess Dang
  • August 31, 2018

Even the most creative cooks can experience burnout in the kitchen during a busy week. In need of a quick, easy dinner, we find ourselves reaching for convenient, fuss-free items in our fridge or pantry – bland salad mixes with no vinaigrette, canned soup, boxed meals. A few lackluster nights of this, and it’s all too easy to start opting for take-out and cereal-for-dinner instead.

But who said that quick, easy dinners can’t be flavorful, healthy, and inspiring? (And a joy to cook and eat?) We start the week with bold chipotle guacamole burgers, flavored with fresh cilantro and chipotle. Tuesday’s soup incorporates a rich umami flavor that is deeply satisfying, without hours of simmering on the stove. On Wednesday we use a sweet and spicy honey adobo sauce on chicken wings and drumettes; we use this same sauce as a dressing on a classic taco salad with a twist for Thursday night.

This week we will show you how to cook easy weeknight dinners that have layers of flavor built into every dish. With our meal planning tips, grocery list, and weekend prep steps – you’ll be on your way to a week full of fresh, healthy dinners in no time.

“My mealtime routine has morphed from a frantic scramble to throw together something edible into a source of relaxation. Having a meal plan for the week has removed a huge source of stress from my life. I now go to the grocery store with a list in hand and I spend my Sunday afternoons prepping all of my ingredients for the week.”

– Toni K.  (Member since Sep 2013)

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

Meal Planning Smarts


  • Cilantro is an herb that adds fresh, lemony flavor. Since one bunch can go a long way, we use it across a few meals so that you can get more usage out of this bundle of herbs.
  • Chipotle peppers are usually found canned in adobo sauce, widely available in grocery stores. Use the smoky, spicy pepper in burger patties and reserve the adobo sauce to make a sauce / dressing this week.

make ahead:

  • Form the chipotle burgers ahead of time for a quick dinner on Monday night.
  • Save even more time in the kitchen by making Tuesday’s soup on the weekend. It reheats well and can be frozen for future meals (if you’re making a version that includes pasta, just wait to add the cooked pasta until right before serving).

leftovers for lunch (or anytime!):

  • Plan ahead and buy extra ground beef to make more burger patties. Leftover burgers can be chopped and used in Thursday’s taco salad instead of ground turkey.
  • Add any leftover vegetables from the week to Thursday’s salad – cooked vegetables will add flavor and raw vegetables will add crunch.
  • Take leftover beans and rice from Wednesday and salad fixings from Thursday and make a delicious Mexican-inspired rice bowl.

On the Menu

MONDAY | Chipotle Guacamole Burgers with Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato Fries

This burger is anything but ordinary! We start the week by playing with spice and flavor to take simple ground beef patties to the next level. Spices and fresh cilantro are mixed into the beef patties and the guacamole for extra layers of flavor. If you like spice, feel free to increase the chipotle peppers in the burgers or add hot sauce to the guacamole. We serve the burgers with a side of smoked paprika sweet potato fries to make this dinner extra special.

If you prefer to enjoy all the flavors and spice of this dinner without the meat, you’ll love our Grilled Chipotle Portobello Burgers that are marinated in a chipotle spiced marinade and topped with melty Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese. Our gluten-free members will use GF hamburger buns and to make this meal Paleo, serve the patties sans-bun and substitute Bragg’s or coconut aminos for the Worcestershire sauce.

TUESDAY | Vegetable Tortellini Soup with Zucchini, Mushrooms & Basil

Don’t underestimate the power of a simple, flavorful soup! This tomato-based soup has a rich umami flavor that’s layered into it, thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes that serve as a foundation to the broth and the addition of mushrooms. Together with vegetables, your favorite tortellini pasta, and fresh basil, this weeknight soup is guaranteed to result in empty bowls that beg to be refilled with seconds. (Tip: To make extra soup, be sure to increase the number of servings you’d like to make – just another way our recipes are totally customizable!)

To make this soup gluten-free, simply use a GF pasta (tortellini if you can find it), and vegetarians will add corn and any veggie-friendly tortellini to this soup. Our Paleo members will be slurping down a delicious Chicken and Vegetable Soup that uses chicken thighs in place of pasta.

WEDNESDAY | Chicken Wings with Honey-Adobo Sauce, Roasted Broccoli + Rice & Beans

Avoid the midweek meal burnout by making your own chicken wings and drumettes (so much better than a drive-thru!). Our chicken wings and drumettes get surprisingly crisp in the oven, largely thanks to a coating of baking powder, which helps to draw out any extra liquid in the skin. The chicken is finished with a sweet and spicy sauce and served with roasted broccoli and rice and beans on the side.

Our Paleo members will use arrowroot powder in place of baking powder and the chicken is served with a side of cumin cauliflower rice and roasted broccoli. For our vegetarians, golden seared tofu gets tossed with a sweet and spicy sauce that’s served with broccoli and rice and beans on the side. (New to cooking tofu? No problem! We’ll show you how with our tutorial videos that come with every meal plan recipe!) No substitutions are needed for our gluten-free friends.

THURSDAY | Taco Salad with Ground Turkey & Honey-Adobo Dressing

Who doesn’t love a taco salad? We kick it up a notch and add layers of flavor to a classic taco salad by using some of Wednesday’s honey-adobo dressing and a custom spice mix of cumin, coriander, paprika, and garlic powder to season the ground turkey. We’ll show you how to build the salad with crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, creamy avocados, savory olives, smooth cheese, and crunchy tortilla chips for flavor (and happiness!) in every bite.

This salad is easily made gluten-free by using GF tortilla chips. Vegetarians will use the spice mix on pinto beans and corn in place of the ground turkey. To make this meal Paleo, simply use pepitas in place of the tortilla chips. Taco salad is such a wholesome way to round out a week of home-cooked meals, and this one is easily customizable to please everyone’s dietary needs without sacrificing flavor.

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 9/3/18 via Cook Smarts

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