Community Favorites | Meal Plan Menu

Enjoy this week’s menu of community favorites and a new recipe by special request from our members!

  • By Jess Dang
  • March 1, 2019

We are still a few weeks away from the start of spring, and chances are, it’s still looking a lot like winter. Which means you might be fighting dinnertime boredom right now . . . Chicken noodle soup for the fifth week in a row? Even your tried-and-true chili recipe is starting to wear you down. Luckily, this week, we have a variety of scrumptious and unique recipes to get you out of the dinnertime rut!

What could be more comforting than the cheesy melty goodness of Croque Madame? Or a big bowl of hearty Beef and Barley Soup? Or the savory seasonings in Jambalaya? Or rich and creamy Chicken Divan? This week’s meal plan menu features Cook Smarts community favorites and a new recipe by request – so you know everything’s going to be absolutely delicious this week!

We keep the nostalgia in these timeless dishes and put a Cook Smarts twist by making each recipe weeknight- and budget-friendly. Best of all, we provide meal planning tips such as streamlining your grocery shopping to help you use each ingredient efficiently.

“Using Cook Smarts (and having a list of favorites to choose from) has been so helpful in eliminating the previous boredom we were having with our cooking routine!”

–  Hadley S. (Member since Jan 2014)

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

On the Menu

MONDAY | Croque Madame on English Muffins + Green Salad with Celery & Apples

Start the week with our spin on a delicious French bistro classic – Croque Madame – a Cook Smarts community favorite! We take English muffins and toast them under the broiler. Layers of savory Black forest ham and nutty Gruyere cheese (a match made in heaven!) are added on top, and everything is popped under the broiler until golden. Topped with a fried egg, this simple and super satisfying sandwich is worthy of a fork! A crisp green salad with sweet apples and crunchy celery rounds out this filling yet healthy meal.

To make a gluten-free Croque Madame, pick-up your favorite GF English muffins at the grocery store. Our vegetarian community members will love this English Muffin Hummus Melt, which simply replaces the ham and mayo / mustard sauce with hummus. If you follow a Paleo diet, you’ll love our protein-packed recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Sausage.

Give this recipe a try and see why everything’s better with a fried egg – even Mondays!

TUESDAY | Chicken Divan with Broccoli & Pasta

Chicken Divan is a classic chicken and broccoli casserole dish – delicious, comforting, and timeless. Our Cook Smarts community members requested we create a recipe for our meal plan service and here is our delicious answer! Seared chicken breast and broccoli are baked in a light and creamy sauce flavored with shallots, garlic, and nutty Gruyere cheese. Topped with cheesy seasoned panko breadcrumbs and served over pasta, this is the dinner that everyone wants to gobble up on a weeknight!

Our gluten-free members can enjoy this dish by using GF pasta, flour, and breadcrumbs. Chicken with Lemon Pan Sauce is our Paleo variation of this recipe. Vegetarians will be making something different, but just as tasty – Curried Broccoli Lentil Wraps.

WEDNESDAY | Beef & Barley Soup with Baguette

Have you tried our Beef and Barley Soup yet? It was the top rated meal in 2017 and for good reason! We transform simple, everyday ingredients such as carrots, celery, onions, thyme, and beef stew meat into comfort in a bowl. The flavors develop from simmering on the stove for about an hour, so if you know that you’ll be short on time, go ahead and make this hearty soup earlier in the week and reheat the night you plan to serve it (or join the Facebook Instant Pot group started by our community members to learn how others made this recipe in their Instant Pot).

Paleo members will swap out the barley and use mushrooms and bell peppers in its place. Vegetarians will replace the beef with mushrooms in our recipe for Mushroom and Barley Soup. We suggest using quinoa in place of the barley for a gluten-free Beef and Quinoa Soup.

THURSDAY | Jambalaya with Sausage, Shrimp & Rice

To round out the week, we’ve got another community favorite – Jambalaya. It’s a one-pot dish with sausage, shrimp, rice, and Cajun seasoning. The layers of flavor in this dish include the “holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers, and celery, which infuse the dish with flavor and texture. Combined with the zesty spices of Cajun seasoning, dried thyme, and oregano, every bite will have your taste buds dancing with delight!  

This dish is already gluten-free, but go ahead and double check that your hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, and sausages are gluten-free-friendly. Vegetarians won’t miss a beat with our vegetarian Jambalaya that uses vegan sausage and zucchini. Paleo members will serve our Paleo-friendly Jambalaya over cauliflower rice.

Jambalaya freezes well, so double the recipe to stock your freezer for future dinners and check out our freezer guide for more tips and ideas.

Smart meal planning ideas come with every weekly menu. The smarts listed below are only a portion of the meal prep tips we include to help you make the most of your ingredients and your time. Join our community to get the full benefits of our meal plan service every day!

Meal Planning Smarts

Make aheads:

  • Our Beef and Barley soup takes about 60 minutes of inactive time to simmer on the stove, and it’s definitely worth the wait! But if you know you’ll be pressed for time this week, this soup can easily be made ahead and reheat before serving.

ingredient notes:

  • Oh how we love Gruyere cheese! It’s rich, nutty, and a little bit goes a long way in our recipes this week. We broil this cheese for our Croque Madame sandwiches on Monday and stir it into Chicken Divan on Tuesday to create an irresistible sauce for chicken and broccoli. Look for this cheese near the specialty cheeses or the deli of your grocery store.
  • Don’t forget the garnishes – they bring the flavors together! We use green onions in several dinners for a fresh pop of flavor. Yogurt adds velvety creaminess to hearty dishes such as Beef and Barley Soup and Jambalaya.


  • Pizza is a genius way to use leftover ingredients this week! Top your favorite pizza dough (store-bought dough works great!) with leftover ham, bell peppers, onions, and grated Gruyere cheese. Check out our pizza guide for more ideas!
  • Toss together a quick fried rice with leftover broccoli, carrots, rice, and eggs, and you won’t have to worry about odds and ends hanging out in the fridge longer than necessary!  

We do more than create meal plans. We create memories around the dinner table.

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Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 3/4/19 via Cook Smarts


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