There’s nothing like fast, healthy meals to get you through the busy summer, and our new meal plan menu has just that!
As we head into August, we know there are only a few more weeks before summer activities wind down and a new school year starts. To give you some extra time for adding another movie, zoo trip, or pool party into your week, we have several fast dinners lined up for you. We’ll help you make the most out of your remaining summer evenings!
This week we have 3 words for you: fast, flavorful, and refreshing.
When it comes to dinner, it doesn’t get much better than having a delicious meal on the table in 35 minutes. It takes longer to drive to your favorite takeout place and back! But, we don’t only give you fast dinner recipes and a grocery list, we also tell you how to reduce cooking time with our make-ahead tips and tricks that let you prep on the weekend so you can spend less time in the kitchen on weeknights. Keep reading for just a few of our helpful meal prep ideas, ingredient tips, and suggestions for easy meals from leftovers!
Another element of our meal plan this week is flavor. It’s common for “fast” and “easy” meals to not have much to brag about in the taste department. Luckily for you, we love rich, bold, and unique flavors! This week we let seasoning blends, herbs, and aromatics take the lead in our Za’atar Lamb Meatballs and Latin Spiced Chicken.
With the heat of summer at its peak, we figured that a couple cooling dishes would be a welcomed guest at your dinner table this week. Our recipes will bring down the heat, with crisp zucchini noodles, BLT wrap, and salads that feature cucumbers, watermelon, and mint. Heat and humidity are nothing against our refreshing dishes!
“We, as a family, have really enjoyed letting Cook Smarts do all the planning for us. Most dishes are quick and delicious and deliver a wide variety of flavors. Let Jess help you cook!“
— Kerri D. (Member since May 2013)
All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps.
Meal Planning Smarts
- Mint is a fresh herb that creates a refreshing sensation on your tongue. This week we help you combat the summer heat with mint cucumbers and a mint and watermelon salad / smoothie!
- Monday’s original and vegetarian recipes use store-bought puff pastry to make an easy tart. You can find this in the freezer section of many grocery stores. If you can’t find puff pastry or prefer a meal that is lighter in calories, check out our gluten-free recipe and paleo version of that meal (described below).
- Feta is a white brined cheese that has a distinct tangy flavor and soft-creamy or crumbly-dry texture, depending on its age. Since we use feta in 2 dishes this week, go ahead and get a sizable container when you go grocery shopping. Then if you have some feta left from earlier in the week, crumble it into Thursday’s watermelon salad and any other salads in the coming week!
- If you form your lamb meatballs (or vegetarian halloumi skewers) ahead of time, Tuesday’s dinner will be ready super fast. Our Turkish-style meatball tutorial video will show you exactly how!
- The garlic oil, Latin spice blend, and creamy BLT wrap sauce can all be made up to 5 days ahead. This will ensure your dinner gets on the table fast every night this week!
- It’s easy to chop leftover Latin chicken and use it as the protein in great fusion tacos or burrito bowls!
- Making extra zucchini noodles takes hardly any time and can be the base for a light lunch topped with pesto, rotisserie chicken, and cheese.
On the Menu
Store-bought puff pastry makes a quick and easy foundation for these savory summer tarts. Tomatoes, feta, and herbs give this entree a fresh boldness while flavored cucumbers on the side bring a cool finish. This great meal takes only 25 minutes of active cooking and 15 minutes baking in the oven!
Our original recipe is naturally vegetarian but we have a Gluten-Free Pan-Seared Salmon and Cherry Tomato recipe for our GF members and a similar Paleo recipe.
These Turkish-style meatballs have a blissful Middle Eastern mix of spices and are cooked in a unique oblong shape on skewers. Watch our helpful video to see how! To balance the meat with grains and veggies, you can enjoy colorful couscous and seasoned zucchini noodles on the side.
Our vegetarian recipe uses mushrooms and halloumi on the kebabs since this cheese holds up beautifully in high heat. Our gluten-free recipe replaces couscous with quinoa while our Paleo recipe swaps it out for a grilled vegetable side salad.
A simple spice mix can add big flavor to a meal, especially in the case of this Latin-inspired spiced chicken! Alongside these bold flavors we pair grilled (or raw, if you prefer) romaine lettuce, corn kernels, avocados, and pepitas that are tossed in a homemade vinaigrette. This delicious dinner comes together in 35 minutes or less!
This recipe is already gluten-free and can be made Paleo by simply omitting corn. For our meat-free members, we have a great Latin Spiced Tofu and Mashed Avocado vegetarian recipe!
THURSDAY | BLT Wraps + Watermelon Salad with Mint
This week, a classic bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich gets a new twist when tossed in creamy dressing and rolled into a wrap. This fast yet satisfying dinner has a side salad of watermelon and mint that may be the most refreshing thing you taste all summer! Prefer a fresh smoothie over a salad? Check out our Paleo version for the recipe!
Our gluten-free version simply uses GF wraps while our vegetarian wrap recipe turns a BLT into an HLT (hummus-lettuce-tomato) for a positively delicious combo. Our Paleo version doesn’t only have a great smoothie, it also includes a Paleo BLT Chopped Salad recipe that is both light and filling.