Week of Nostalgic Recipes | Meal Plan Menu (2/8/21)

Week of Nostalgic Recipes | Meal Plan Menu (2/8/21)

This week, we’re bringing back some of our best nostalgic recipes and community’s favorites. We’ll teach you how to make homemade Hamburger Helper, Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, and more!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • February 5, 2021


Japanese Chicken Curry with Rice

This week, we’re trying something new with this Japanese curry, which will be nostalgic to anyone who grew up eating Japanese cuisine. This community favorite even manages to somehow be cozy and familiar to those who have never tasted Japanese curry before. In this version, we use the inexpensive, store-bought Golden Curry mix to not only save time, but also bring you the tried-and-true flavors and seasonings that are found in so many Japanese pantries around the world. In just 35 minutes, the whole family can enjoy a rich and thick curry filled with tender chicken, soft potatoes, and vibrant carrots, which come together beautifully with grated apples for a dash of fresh sweetness to lift the whole dish.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Save time by making a double batch of rice (or cauliflower rice, if you’re cooking paleo) to use with this Japanese Chicken Curry recipe and Thursday’s Chinese Hot and Sour Soup with Vegetable Fried Rice recipe.
  • Our meal plan includes 2 cooking instruction options: Instant Pot and stovetop. Just select your preferred method when you sign up for our meal plan service!
  • Both Japanese curry and rice reheat and freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time for an easier Monday night and can also make extra to pop in the freezer for a future meal.

Diet Variation:

  • Gluten-Free: Replace the soy sauce with tamari and make your own Japanese curry roux instead of using a store-bought mix.
  • Paleo: Replace the soy sauce with coconut aminos, swap potatoes for rutabagas, make your own paleo-friendly Japanese curry roux, and serve with cauliflower rice.
  • Vegetarian: Swap the chicken for protein-packed edamame.


Adult Hamburger Helper with Balsamic Roasted Broccoli

Do you ever feel the craving for some Hamburger Helper but feel like it’s not healthy enough to make for your adult self or family . . . out of a box? Well, we have created a solution with our healthier spin on that 1970’s family classic. It’s surprisingly simple to make homemade Hamburger Helper – complete with the creamy pasta that’ll you remember from childhood – but better! With seasoned ground beef and balsamic broccoli on the side, our version will bring on the nostalgia while still letting you feel that I-roast-my-own-veggies sort of pride at the end of the meal. 

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Help your homemade Hamburger Helper come together even faster when you prep your spice mix, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, and cook your pasta up to 5 days ahead of time.

Diet Variation:

  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free fusilli, shells, or elbow pasta, and replace the flour with cornstarch for a thickener.
  • Paleo: Instead of having the seasoned hamburger on a bed of pasta, enjoy it in delicious zucchini boats!
  • Vegetarian: Make this creamy pasta with lentils for texture, flavor, and protein.

“I am SO GRATEFUL for Cook Smarts. It was my New Year’s Resolution for 2020 to cook new recipes, learn more techniques and open my family’s palettes a bit. Using your service has made this 100% achievable. We have a ton of new favorite recipes and I’ve used spices and ingredients I would have never tried before.”

– Jeanette M. (Member since Dec 2019)


Bacon Eggs Benedict with Sweet Potato Wedges

Breakfast for dinner is one of our favorite things, and this Bacon Eggs Benedict meal is no exception. While our popular recipe has been served with fresh fruit in the past, we are putting a cold-weather twist on this meal by serving up roasted sweet potatoes and smoky paprika aioli on the side instead. The result is a beautiful, restaurant-worthy brunch favorite that you will want to gobble down any time of day, any time of year.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Need a few tips on how to poach an egg? Our recipe has a direct link to our 50-second video tutorial on how to poach an egg!

Diet Variation:

  • Gluten-Free: Just pick up gluten-free English muffins at the store.
  • Paleo: Make our Bacon and Mushroom Saute with Poached Eggs and enjoy the same sides.
  • Vegetarian: Instead of bacon, our vegetarian recipe layers sauteed mushrooms and fresh arugula on the English muffin before topping with eggs.


Chinese Hot and Sour Soup with Vegetable Fried Rice

Soup is an integral part of Chinese cuisine and hot and sour soup has been loved and enjoyed for thousands of years. Chinese hot and sour soup has such a distinct flavor (and aroma!), so if you grew up in or around Chinese communities, the chances are that this soup will provide you with a deeply welcome nostalgic dinner moment. When we first introduced our version of the soup with bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu, our cooking community absolutely loved making this takeout favorite from home. And, with a tasty fried rice to go with it, this 40-minute meal is absolutely delightful.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand in your fried rice. We love to save time with frozen veggies, but fresh vegetables work just as well, too.

Diet Variation:

  • Gluten-Free: Swap out the soy sauce in the hot and sour soup and fried rice for tamari.
  • Paleo: Enjoy the same flavors with our Paleo Chinese Hot and Sour Soup with Pork and Cauliflower Fried Rice.
  • Vegetarian: This meal is already vegetarian and packs 20 grams of protein per serving!

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.

Sign up for a free trial


Try our award winning meal plan service for free


Our Podcast: Strategies to become a smarter cook

Share the love!

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

How can we help you in the kitchen?

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter


Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.