Make Cooking Easier | Meal Plan Menu

Make cooking easier with this week’s delicious dinner recipes that are ready in under 45 minutes, from start to finish!

  • By Jackie Sun
  • October 12, 2018

It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through October already, and in just a couple weeks, Halloween will be here. And then Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year – all the holidays! – will come rolling in right behind it. Time is flying by, which is why we’re here to help you make the most of your time by spending less of it in the kitchen. How, you ask?

Well, we put together a menu that has all the planning done for you – from what to eat, to what to buy at the grocery store, to what to prep ahead, we’ve got you covered. With a healthy meal plan that makes cooking easy and fast, you’ll have minutes to spare for putting together last-minute Halloween costumes or getting a head start on Christmas shopping.

Our meal plan this week is made up of delicious dinner recipes that take only 30 to 45 minutes to make. They’re also family-friendly weeknight dinners that will please all palates and have everyone around the kitchen table smacking their lips with satisfaction.

If you’re ready to save more time in the kitchen and make cooking easier, then check out this week’s healthy meal plan below and sign up here!

“I don’t even know how I managed dinnertime without Cook Smarts before. This meal planning program not only saves you money, but so much time! . . . The variety of cuisines is awesome, and you can totally customize your menu based on your family’s dietary needs / restrictions. It’s definitely something you’ve got to experience.”

– Anastasia P.  (Member since Oct 2014)

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

Meal Planning Smarts


  • Panko – This light and flaky Japanese breadcrumb is not just for making tempura. Adding a bit to burger patties (like we do this week) helps hold them together as well as seal in moisture. Panko also makes for a delicate crunchy topping on casseroles, like in this week’s Cassoulet recipe. So keep a box of panko in your pantry – it keeps for some time and can be used for a variety of meals!
  • Mint – A little can go a long way with this refreshing herb, which is why our meal plan uses it twice this week. Garnish chiffonaded mint on top of an Asian-inspired salad for some zing, then stir it into a homemade tzatziki sauce for a cool flavor. That way, none of your mint goes to waste!

make ahead:

  • Sauces can be made up to 5 days in advance, and making them ahead of time can really save you minutes in the kitchen during the weekdays. Using a bit of free time over the weekend to whisk together peanut dressing for Wednesday’s salad and tzatziki for Thursday’s burgers is the perfect way to breeze through cooking later in the week.


  • Pita pockets make for tasty, portable lunches. If you have any leftover pita breads, split them open and add leftover kale and chicken (from Wednesday’s salad) and leftover brie (from Monday’s sandwich) for a “gourmet” lunch that will be the envy of the office.
  • Stir-frying is a cooking method, so who says you can’t make a Greek stir-fry? Toss leftover chopped Greek burger patties and carrots (from Thursday), kale (from Wednesday), and lemony green beans (from Monday) to make a Greek-inspired stir-fry. Serve over rice or couscous and drizzle with leftover tzatziki!

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 | Turkey, Brie & Cranberry Melts with Lemony Green Beans

Thanksgiving may be here in less than 2 months, but we’re already getting into the holiday spirit! We just can’t resist the sweet and savory combo of turkey, brie, and cranberry sauce pressed together in a sandwich. It is the perfect embodiment of fall, especially when served with some lemony green beans. In just 30 minutes, you can have a unique, flavorful dinner that will inspire all the holiday feels.

Anyone opting for our gluten-free recipe will still enjoy this incredible grilled cheese, but with GF bread instead. Our Paleo recipe utilizes the same flavor profile with delicious pan-seared turkey cutlets with cranberry sauce spooned on top. For something even more unique, try our vegetarian recipe for Portobello, Brie & Cranberry Melts – the earthy mushrooms pair wonderfully with sweet cranberry sauce!

TUESDAY | Cassoulet with Italian Sausage & Baguette

Traditional French cassoulet typically includes white beans, sausages, duck or goose confit, and a specific cooking pot called a cassole to slow-cook the casserole, but we’ve come up with a budget-friendly, time-saving way for you to enjoy this on a weeknight! Our recipe calls for sausages only, as well as beans and veggies, all of which are budget-friendly ingredients. A Dutch oven or skillet easily does the trick of sauteing and simmering all the ingredients together in just 15 minutes. Topped with buttery panko breadcrumbs and served with a toasted baguette, this dinner looks and tastes like 3 hours spent in the kitchen, but really takes only 45 minutes!

This recipe remains the same for gluten-free folks, with an easy swap for GF breadcrumbs and baguette. Our Paleo cooks will enjoy a hearty Italian Sausage & Leek Soup to warm up their weeknights. And for our vegetarians, a Mushroom Cassoulet is the savory, meatless answer to this French-inspired dish (swapping sausage for yummy mushrooms!).

WEDNESDAY | Asian Kale Salad with Chicken, Asian Pears & Peanut Dressing

Kale salads are a great way to eat healthy and spend less time in the kitchen during cooler evenings. This Asian-inspired one is filled with a variety of flavors and textures that will wow all taste buds! Sweet, crisp Asian pears, crunchy celery and peanuts, tender chicken breasts, fragrant mint, and earthy kale are tossed together with a creamy, dreamy peanut dressing that you’ll fall head over heels for. (Many members of our cooking community certainly did!)

If you’re cooking gluten-free, make sure to substitute the soy sauce with Tamari. If you’re opting for the Paleo version of this recipe, you’ll be making a Sunflower Butter Dressing instead of peanut butter. And if you prefer to go meatless, replace chicken for golden, pan-seared tofu in our vegetarian recipe.

THURSDAY | Greek Burger Pita Pocket with Tzatziki & Carrot Sticks

Beef burger patties are endlessly versatile, which is why we’re bringing you a Greek-inspired burger this week! The patties are seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, and oregano – a tasty medley of Mediterranean herbs and spices. Then they are stuffed into pita pockets alongside fresh tomato slices, crisp Romaine lettuce leaves, and a good spoonful of tangy and refreshing tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce). Sliced carrot sticks make for a fun veggie side that brings this entire meal to only 35 minutes of prep and cook time.

The only change for our gluten-free recipe is to use GF pita bread instead of regular. Our Paleo recipe goes bun-less and tops the Greek-inspired beef patties on a green salad. The vegetarian version of this recipe calls for halloumi, a semi-hard brined cheese that can be seared without melting, in place of beef patties.

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 10/15/18 via Cook Smarts

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