Big Flavor Dinners | Meal Plan Menu

Are you ready for a week of quick meals that are bursting with flavor? Check out our menu and meal prep tips to make each weeknight go smoother than ever.

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • September 20, 2019

Sauces and broths are one of our favorite ways to help you build flavor. They have the ability to blend savory, sweet, and spicy notes to a depth that other dry ingredients just can’t achieve. That’s why we chose to pack this week with sauces and a broth that will bring you the incredible flavors of China, Italy, Southeast Asia, and North America – all in 40 minutes or less of active cooking time!

To help you get a head start on your flavor game, we made sure to create weekend prep instructions for each recipe. That means that you can make your Sriracha mayo, balsamic vinaigrette, and sesame ginger sauce all up to 5 days ahead to save yourself time during the week. Keep reading to get our suggestions for efficiencies, leftovers, and things to make ahead.

“Since signing up with Cook Smarts, dinner has become a pleasurable experience again. My husband and I are enjoying the new dishes and flavors, eating more fruits and vegetables and, best of all, I’ve lost more than 20 pounds since joining. I am proud to have found my joy in the kitchen again and I owe it all to Cook Smarts.”

– Lisa F. (Member since Apr 2018)

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 | Sausage & Gnocchi Soup with Mushrooms & Kale

Have you ever had gnocchi before? If not, they are delicious Italian potato dumplings that, in this one-pot soup, add a wonderfully comforting contrast to the rest of this meal’s earthy ingredients. In just 40 minutes, you’ll be ready to enjoy a satisfying soup loaded with pillowy gnocchi, flavorful sausage, savory parmesan cheese, and nutrient-rich mushrooms, tomatoes, and kale!

This soup is easy to enjoy on Meatless Mondays by simply swapping the sausage for protein-packed kidney beans. You can also prepare it gluten-free by getting GF gnocchi or substituting any GF pasta (you get extra points if you choose a fun pasta shape!). To make a Paleo-friendly version, just use cauliflower gnocchi (found in the freezer section of many grocery stores) or use fresh or frozen cauliflower florets.

TUESDAY | Chicken Banh Mi with Sriracha Mayo & Pineapple Spears

We’re introducing weeknight-friendly shortcuts so you only have to spend 30 minutes of active cooking time in the kitchen! Bagged coleslaw mix takes the spot of traditional pickled vegetables, making this delicious Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich come together quickly. This colorful dinner truly layers the flavor with marinated chicken, Sriracha mayo, and spicy jalapeños. And don’t forget a side of fresh pineapple spears for a sweet finish to your meal!

You can make this tasty sandwich vegetarian by marinating tofu and gluten-free by picking up GF rolls and Tamari. To enjoy these great flavors Paleo-style, try our Asian Chicken Salad with marinated chicken, sweet pineapple, crunchy cashews, and our spicy aminos vinaigrette.

WEDNESDAY | Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Salad with Sweet & Spicy Pecans

To really enjoy autumn, we know that delicious fall produce is key. This salad features 2 of our seasonal favorites – delicata squash and Brussels sprouts. Roasting them in our maple balsamic vinaigrette brings out the natural sweetness that will make you fall in love with these vegetables. (Yes, pun intended.) Once you mix in savory lentils, rich goat cheese, and sweet and spicy pecans, you’ll be wanting to make this satisfying salad for dinner every day until winter.

This vegetarian and gluten-free salad can also be enjoyed Paleo with our Balsamic Steak and Roasted Vegetable Salad (don’t worry, this recipe still includes the yummy spiced pecans!).

THURSDAY | Sesame Ginger Chicken Lo Mein with Broccoli & Cashews

These sweet and savory noodles will change the way you look at lo mein. This dish is packed with far more flavor than the standard take-out version, and since it only takes 30 minutes from start to finish, you can have a healthier home-cooked dinner in less time than going out or waiting for food delivery! Between the pleasant texture of coleslaw mix, subtle heat of freshly grated ginger, and light crunch of cashews and sesame seeds, you’ll never want to settle for take-out again.

To make this dish gluten-free, all you have to do is use GF noodles and substitute Tamari for soy sauce. To enjoy the same great flavors on the Paleo diet, make our Sesame Ginger Paleo Stir-Fry that avoids those grains (and over ¾ of the carbs!). If you are eating vegetarian, we have a fun version for you to try – Chickpea Lo Mein with the same delicious sesame ginger sauce. If garbanzo beans in lo mein sounds a little odd to you, test it out and be prepared to be surprised!

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 Tips

Make Aheads:

  • If you want Monday to come around a little easier this week, all you have to do is make the Gnocchi Soup ahead of time. Just wait to add the gnocchi until right before serving and sit down to a great Monday night dinner in seconds.
  • As we mentioned earlier, you can get a jumpstart to your week by mixing up your sauces – Sriracha mayo, balsamic vinaigrette, and sesame ginger sauce – up to 5 days ahead of time.
  • You can also get Wednesday’s sweet and spicy pecans a-roasting 5 days early, all while you multitask with prep for your veggies – delicata squash, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bell peppers, and garlic – at the same time!


  • Cilantro adds a fresh and bright flavor to both our Banh Mi and Lo Mein this week, so pick up a big bundle at the store.
  • Fresh ginger brings a little spicy element to Wednesday’s pecans and Thursday’s stir-fry. If you’re a big fan of ginger, feel free to increase the amount you add to either dish for an extra punch of flavor.
  • Coleslaw mix is a great shortcut for fast cooking, and one bag is perfect for two different meals! That’s why we use a bag of crunchy slaw for both our Banh Mi and Lo Mein this week.


  • Kale Caesar Salad is a unique twist on traditional Caesar Salad, and you can make it super easily by using Monday’s leftover kale and Tuesday’s leftover sandwich rolls (just cube and toast for croutons)!
  • You can make a delectable autumn pasta dish by chopping up leftover roasted squash and Brussels sprouts and adding them to a carbonara like this one.

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Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 9/23/19 via Cook Smarts


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