Fall Dinner Ideas | Meal Plan Menu (9/20/21)

Fall Dinner Ideas | Meal Plan Menu (9/20/21)

Welcome fall this week with seasonal flavors including fig on ricotta toast, a warm lasagna soup recipe, a quinoa bowl recipe with roasted root veggies and chickpeas, and an oven-baked chicken breast recipe.

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • September 17, 2021


Lasagna Soup

We love baked lasagna, but on a weeknight it’s a good bet we’re not going to have the time to put together such a complicated dish. Enter this lasagna soup recipe! This soup boasts similar flavors and ingredients, and is a Cook Smarts member favorite for both its taste and ease. You’ll sauté classic lasagna veggies with sausage, add in tomatoes and spices, and bring it all to a simmer until it comes together in a delicious and fragrant way. Add broken lasagna noodles and simmer them until they’re al dente. A dollop of ricotta and a sprinkle of Parmesan is all you need to finish off these delicious bowls of soup!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • You’ll use ricotta in this meal as well as for Wednesday’s Ricotta Toast
  • Leftover lasagna soup freezes well; just make sure to freeze the cooked noodles separately from the soup! That way, the noodles will not overcook and get soggy when you reheat.

Diet Variation:

  • Use gluten-free lasagna noodles in the gluten-free variation on this meal. 
  • Make an Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup with mushrooms and spinach in the paleo version of the meal. 
  • Use lentils instead of sausage if you’re cooking the vegetarian variation for a satisfying protein-packed meal.


Harvest Bowl with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas

Step into fall with this quinoa bowl recipe that feels decidedly warmer than what we’ve been featuring all summer. Roasted sweet potatoes and beets accompany lightly crispy chickpeas over a bed of quinoa and arugula. Goat cheese and sunflower seeds add interest in the form of flavor and texture variety, and it’s finished with a drizzle of creamy balsamic yogurt sauce. Your body will thank you for this well-balanced meal that comes in at roughly one-quarter of your daily requirements for fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and protein, AND is high in fiber!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Make a double batch of quinoa today to save time when making Thursday’s oven-baked chicken breast recipe. 
  • Prep everything for this meal ahead of time, and it’ll be super quick to assemble when you’re ready to eat.
  • Use leftover quinoa and roasted sweet potatoes in a breakfast burrito with eggs and cheese.

Diet Variation:

  • No changes are needed for the gluten-free or vegetarian versions of this meal. 
  • Turn the bowl into a salad in the paleo version, subbing balsamic vinaigrette for the yogurt sauce. Skip the beans and goat cheese, and add eggs and avocado.

“I spent a year working with a nutritionist to try to organize my eating and menu planning. Then I found Cook Smarts, and menu planning has been so much easier that we are cooking more often and eating better food.”

—Kate M. (Member since Dec 2019)


Ricotta Toast with Prosciutto and Figs

Thick-cut, hearty bakery bread gets brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven, then topped with ricotta, crispy prosciutto, fresh figs, a drizzle of honey, and fresh-cracked black pepper. The ricotta toast is served alongside roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts, which get roasted with the prosciutto on top to flavor them and give the crispy texture that goes so well alongside the softer textures that make up much of this meal. It’s an elegant take on toast that’s filling, satisfying, and works well for dinner, lunch, or brunch.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • If you can’t find fresh figs, substitute sliced red grapes. 

Diet Variation:

  • Use gluten-free bread for a fully gluten-free meal. 
  • Serve the Brussels sprouts alongside Seared Pork Chops in Fig Sauce in the paleo version. 
  • Use walnuts instead of prosciutto to add crunch to the vegetarian variation of the meal. 


Baked Sesame Soy Chicken Breasts with Carrots, Broccoli, and Quinoa

Our oven-baked chicken breast recipe is anything but plain and boring! Turn baked chicken breasts into something delicious and noteworthy with a sesame soy vinaigrette that doubles as a marinade. You’ll sear the chicken breasts and sprinkle with sesame seeds before baking them to ensure they get golden brown. Broccoli and carrots are sautéed simply and served alongside the chicken over quinoa; the whole thing is drizzled with the rest of the sesame soy vinaigrette as well as some hot sauce, if you’d like, to take the dish to the next level. If you made the quinoa earlier in the week, this meal comes together quickly.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Leftover chicken and veggies can be chopped and used on salads.

Diet Variation:

  • Use tamari instead of regular soy sauce in the gluten-free version of this meal. 
  • Use cauliflower rice instead of quinoa in the paleo version, and use coconut aminos and honey in the vinaigrette in place of the soy sauce and brown sugar.
  • Vegetarians will enjoy a tofu version of this simple but flavorful recipe.

All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps. Join our weekly meal plan service to get the grocery list, dinner steps, and more cooking tips for these 4 simple dinners.

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