Transform weeknight dinners this week by packing in lots of flavor with easy sauces, marinades, and dressings!
This week our meal plan menu will show you how to take simple, humble ingredients that are a blank canvas – tortillas, grains, and salad – and transform them into spectacular dinners. The secret is in the sauces, marinades, and dressings! With this week’s meal plan, you’ll discover how minimal prep and seasonally fresh herbs and produce can completely transform a meal.
You’ll love the layers of flavors in our Mushroom and Corn Quesadillas, Chimichurri Shrimp Saute with Creamy Polenta, Beef Kebab Grain Bowls, and Honey Dijon Chicken Salad. All of the week’s ingredients are used efficiently so you get the most bang for your grocery buck.
Keep reading below to learn more about simple homemade meals that deliver big bursts of fresh flavor!
“[I have learned from Cook Smarts’ meal plans that] simple home-cooking doesn’t have to be light on flavor. I’ve really learned a lot about making homemade sauces and spice mixes. My marinade game is stronger than ever.”
– Kim J. (Member since March 2016)
All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps.
On the Menu
Tortillas are like a meal planner’s blank canvas – there’s so much you can do with tortillas to create a delicious and quick weeknight dinner! Tonight we put a fun twist on quesadillas with a sweet and savory mushroom and corn filling. Top the crisp quesadillas with creamy homemade guacamole flavored with fresh shallots, lime juice, and cilantro for a bit of indulgence in every bite. Serve with a baby spinach and tomato salad on the side.
Corn tortillas tested better in this recipe, making it a wonderful gluten-free and vegetarian meal, although flour tortillas would work well, too! If you prefer to go sans-tortilla, try our Paleo recipe for Mexican-Spiced Ground Turkey and Mushrooms.
Cooking Tip: If you are feeding a crowd, cook multiple quesadillas at one time by using a pancake griddle or grill pan. If you find you need to work in batches, slide the (uncut) quesadillas on to a baking sheet and keep in a warm 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
Have you tried creamy polenta before? It hails from Northern Italy and is a delicious comfort food made from stone ground yellow corn. We dress up this polenta dish with sauteed zucchini, blackened tomatoes, and shrimp all topped with a savory herb chimichurri sauce that will have you scraping the bottom of your bowl to get every last bite!
This satisfying meal is gluten-free and easily made vegetarian by using your favorite vegan sausage in place of the shrimp. Our Paleo members will serve the shrimp saute over zucchini noodles.
For our mid-week pick-me-up we are bringing back a Cook Smarts community favorite – marinated beef kebabs with more of the fresh, herby chimichurri sauce all served over hearty barley. It’s the kind of meal that’s perfect cooked on the outdoor grill or indoors on the stovetop (if you’d like to save prep time) and it will keep you going strong ‘til the weekend.
For a Paleo grain-free bowl, serve the beef kebabs over a refreshing, herby chimichurri avocado cucumber salad. Substitute Tamari for soy sauce and this meal is gluten-free. Vegetarians will love the chimichurri yogurt sauce in our meatless recipe for Spiced Chickpea Grain Bowl.
This salad brings together everything we love about an entree salad – a burst of flavors, colors, and textures in every bite! To make this salad filling and satisfying, we add leftover barley for texture and bite, sauteed chicken simmered in honey dijon vinaigrette, sweet summer plums, crunchy green beans, a dash of blue cheese, and a sprinkle of toasted walnuts. Make it your go-to salad this summer!
Substitutions are easy to make in entree salads. Our gluten-free members can use quinoa in place of barley, while Paleo members can use bacon. For a speedy recipe that’s also vegetarian, try our Honey Dijon Lentil Salad.
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
- To save time this week, make a double batch of chimichurri sauce for Tuesday and Wednesday’s meals, and both meals will come together quickly when it comes time to cook. Our Cook Smarts community always has glowing reviews of this sauce and we think you will, too!
- Barley is a firm grain that holds its shape and has a bit of tender chew when cooked. We use it in the Beef Kebab Grain Bowls on Wednesday and as a topping in Thursday’s Honey Dijon Chicken Salad. Look for “pearl barley” which needs to be simmered for about 40 minutes or “hulled barley” which will take closer to an hour. Trader Joe’s and a few other companies make quick-cook barley which cooks in only 10 minutes, so that makes a great substitute if you’re short on time.
- Creamy polenta is a comforting delight made from ground cornmeal. Look for polenta at the grocery store where you might find ingredients to make cornbread or near the grits and other grains. You can also check in the bulk section of the grocery store. If you are short on time this week, try premade polenta in a tube, typically found in the pasta aisle. Simply slice into circles and saute in a bit of olive oil. (We do not recommend using instant polenta.)
- Wrap leftover cooked shrimp in corn tortillas and top with chimichurri sauce (and other favorite toppings!) for a delightful street taco.
- Top leftover creamy polenta with a poached egg and tomatoes for a decadent bistro-style brunch.
- Use leftover sauteed mushrooms, barley, and cheese to make a tasty, savory filling for stuffed peppers.