It’s October! Suddenly it’s really starting to feel like fall and we’re more than ready with a meal plan menu that features the best of fall comfort foods.
There are so many things to love about the fall season – football, our favorite TV shows, pumpkin spice everything, cozy sweaters, the beauty of fall foliage – and we are ready to embrace cooler temperatures outside and warmer meals inside.
This week’s meal plan menu is all about fall comfort foods with warming spices and hearty dishes. We start out with a nourishing vegetarian stew that features toasted spices, sweet potatoes, turnips, leeks, garlic, chard, and beans. On Tuesday we have the epitome of fall in one meal – glazed pork chops with brown butter gnocchi served with a spinach and apple salad. On Wednesday we have a fajita salad that takes your average taco salad to the next level with spiced shrimp sauteed with bell peppers and shallots. And Thursday we end the week with a bang – Beef Stroganoff. Our Cook Smarts community asked, and we think we came up with a recipe that is both weeknight-friendly and a touch healthier.
As the seasons change and the temps begin to cool off outside, let your kitchen be the place that brings warmth, comfort, and joy to you and your family. Each weeknight meal can be something special and lovely, without being overly fussy or fancy. So set the table, invite a neighbor or a coworker over, and dig into some fall comfort foods that are sure to warm you from the inside out.
“It wasn’t until I started using Cook Smarts that we started to feel like we were getting back to a normal life after our daughter was born. Now, even with both kids running around, I can find enough time to put together flavorful, healthy meals.”
– Sonali P. (Member since Apr 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
- Sage – This savory herb is great for fall comfort foods. Raw sage has an intense flavor, so our recipes call for frying them lightly to mellow them out but still bring a unique, warm flavor to the dishes.
- Sour cream – It can never get used up in one meal, so we came up with two ways to use this condiment to reduce food waste – one night whisked into a creamy vinaigrette and the next night stirred into noodles.
- Spices – It takes time to build up your spice pantry, but paprika, coriander, and cumin are 3 spices you’ll constantly reach for when you cook with us. This week, all 3 make an appearance in a few meals to add warmth and depth of flavor.
- If you know you’ll be heading into a busy week, make Monday’s stew over the weekend, and dinner will be ready to go on Monday. (The stew reheats really well!)
- If you have leftover stew but not enough for the whole family, bulk it up by serving it over rice, and top it off with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
- Saute some onions and peppers and add leftover beef stroganoff. Serve on a your favorite toasted bread like a hoagie roll, ciabatta, or sourdough for a delicious twist on a steak sandwich.
On the Menu
We start the week with a hearty vegetarian stew that’s full of toasted warm spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice. Our secret for making this stew satisfying and filling without using meat? We use a variety of textures and flavors from seasonally fresh veggies like sweet potatoes, turnips, leeks, and chard, as well as a combo of lentils and garbanzo beans. The result is a stew that’s full of fiber and protein to warm you up from the inside out. Served with a squeeze of lemon juice to make all the flavors pop, a dollop of yogurt, and a slice of pita bread, it’s a major win for a Monday night!
To make this stew Paleo-friendly, we use chicken thighs in place of the lentils and garbanzo beans, baba ganoush in place of the yogurt, and sliced almonds for a bit of crunch and contrast. Pick-up your favorite GF pita bread to make this meal gluten-free, and vegetarians don’t need to make any substitutions to the original recipe.
Tuesday’s dinner is a celebration of the perfect cozy night-in. Pork chops are seared in a skillet and a homemade Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette is poured over them as they cook to create a perfectly balanced glaze. Pillowy gnocchi is tossed with fragrant sage and nutty brown butter for the ultimate side dish. (What’s the fuss over brown butter, you ask? Oh you’ll see – browning the butter allows it to become a little nutty and more buttery – if that’s even possible.) This fall-inspired meal is made complete with a spinach apple salad. Why save special meals only for the weekends or special occasions? We say celebrate the everyday – and invite a neighbor or coworker over to share this lovely meal.
Vegetarians will love all the cozy fall flavors in Brown Butter Gnocchi with Walnuts and Sage. Our Paleo friends can enjoy the richness of brown butter on parsnips in place of gnocchi. To make this dish gluten-free, simply pick up GF gnocchi or substitute your pasta of choice.
WEDNESDAY | Shrimp Fajita Salad with Creamy Paprika Dressing
We love a good taco salad and this fajita variation has been a hit with our Cook Smarts community since 2015 – and for good reason! Inspired by Chipotle’s fajita salad, our recipe uses shrimp seasoned with garlic, paprika, coriander, and cumin then sauteed with shallots and bell peppers. We toss this saute with a homemade Creamy Paprika Dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, corn, and the result is the perfect balance of flavors, colors, and textures. Our favorite part is topping off the salad with crushed tortilla chips – we think you’ll love it too!
This recipe is super versatile! Feel free to sub in a different protein or use up any other veggies you have on hand. For example, our vegetarian recipe uses tofu and queso fresco in place of shrimp. To make this salad gluten-free, simply use your favorite GF tortilla chip. Paleo members make minor changes to the original recipe by omitting the sour cream in the dressing and corn in the salad. Pepitas are used in place of tortilla chips for the perfect crunch to top off this amazing salad.
We listen to our Cook Smarts community and Beef Stroganoff has been in demand! So here’s what we’ve got – a rich combination of beef and creamy sauce flavored with butter, sage, paprika, coriander, garlic, white wine, beef stock, and sour cream (of course!). Served over egg noodles with a side of roasted broccolini, this dish is everything you want in fall comfort food.
Vegetarians won’t be jealous at all because we have a veggie-friendly recipe that uses lentils and mushrooms in place of the beef – hooray! Our gluten-free friends simply need to use GF flour and noodles in the recipe. Even those following a Paleo diet can dig into beef stroganoff by making a few modifications to the sauce and serving it over cauliflower rice in place of the noodles.