Bye Bye Dinner Rut | Meal Plan Menu

Our meal plan menu of the week will help you get out of your dinner rut with a variety of meals that will take you on a culinary adventure around the world.

  • By Jackie Sun
  • February 2, 2018

Sometimes it can be really easy to make the same meals over and over again. Seared chicken breast one night, spaghetti the next, a vegetable soup the night after . . . then you repeat, and repeat again. Sometimes you keep repeating for years and soon dinnertime is just repetitive and boring.

Sure, you can browse on Pinterest and Google for delicious dinner recipes, but that in itself takes so much time.

Have you ever been stuck in a dinner rut?

We know how frustrating it can be, which is why we’re here for you! We love coming up with the dinner plans just for you, so you can save time in the kitchen and never fall into a dinner rut again.

Our meal plans are filled with a variety of dinners every single week to keep dinnertime interesting and fun for the whole family, and this week is no exception.

The meal plan menu for this week is full of dinners that you’ll find at your favorite restaurants but are really simple to make – fish en papillote is the fanciest (and easiest) dinner to make at home; a quick Japanese-inspired sauce will make you feel as if you are dining out at a teppenyaki restaurant; a healthy version of fettuccine alfredo allows you to indulge in this Italian classic; and lastly, take a trip to England for a taste of an Indian-inspired soup.

Yes, you can enjoy a culinary adventure all in a week’s time with our diverse menu options! Scroll to read more about each of the dishes on our meal plan this week and pick up some of our favorite meal planning and leftover tips while you’re at it.

If you’re ready to make dinnertime a delicious success, join our cooking community here:

“Before Cook Smarts, I made the same few meals all the time. Now my family gets to try such a fun variety of meals!”

– Heather H. (Member since Jan 2017)

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

Meal Planning Tips


  • Cooking a double batch of rice at one time saves a lot of time in the kitchen. You can even use it in two different meals for more variety. This week, we serve rice with a Japanese stir-fry, then stir the leftovers into an Indian soup.
  • Fettuccine Alfredo is loved for its creamy, rich flavors. We add some cream in this dish to give it some authenticity, but don’t let the rest of the cream go to waste! Add it to Thursday’s soup as well for more creaminess and flavor.


  • Rice can be cooked up to 5 days ahead, so if you have a bit of time over the weekend, get that going.
  • You can also make the Yakitori Stir-Fry ahead of time as well, since it reheats easily and can save you some time in the beginning of the work / school week.


  • The leftover Fennel & Tomato Saute that goes with our Fish en Papillote dinner can be used as a flavorful sauce for pasta. Add a can of crushed tomatoes to make more sauce, and top with a runny fried egg for added protein.
  • If you have leftover fish, turn them into fancy fish sandwiches or wraps by adding some lettuce, tomatoes, and homemade tartar sauce.

On the Menu

MONDAY | Lemon White Fish en Papillote with Couscous + Fennel & Tomato Saute

Cooking fish “en papillote” (in parchment) sounds fancy and looks even fancier, but it’s really easy to do! This cooking technique helps the fish to stay succulent and absorb the flavors of the other ingredients it’s cooked with. In other words, clean and bright flavors with very little effort. Serve with some fluffy couscous and a light Fennel & Tomato Saute, and you’ll feel like you’re dining out at a gourmet restaurant!

Gluten-free folks will be substituting couscous for quinoa, while paleo folks will be serving their fish and veggies over a warm baked sweet potato. Vegetarians, on the other hand, will be enjoying a Mediterranean-inspired Fennel, White Bean & Tomato Saute over couscous.

TUESDAY | Chicken Yakitori Stir-Fry with Broccoli & Rice

Typical yakitori sauce has salty-sweet flavors that goes perfectly with grilled proteins. We add a bit of kick with fresh ginger in our recipe, and turn this classic skewered chicken dish into a convenient and easy stir-fry. Because we love to #eatmoreveggies, we’re bulking up this dinner with broccoli, celery, and coleslaw mix (one of our favorite cooking shortcuts).

Our paleo meal plan uses cauliflower rice instead of rice, and our vegetarian meal plan calls for tofu instead of chicken.

WEDNESDAY | Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus & Peas

Fettuccine Alfredo is a dish that many of our members in our cooking community have requested, so we’re excited to create our take on this classic recipe. Lighter than what you’ll find in most restaurants, we still use a bit of heavy cream to add that authentic creaminess and flavor. Asparagus and peas give the dish some color and crunch, as we prepare for the coming of spring!

Our paleo members will be enjoying a Cajun-inspired Shrimp, Bell Pepper & Zucchini Saute paired with a tart and crisp side salad. Vegetarians will still be able to savor this creamy pasta dish without the meat; we bulk up the meal with a simple spinach side salad.

THURSDAY | Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken & Leftover Rice

Mulligatawny is an English mild curry soup with Indian origins. The combination of classic chicken soup ingredients with an Indian spice mix and a hint of sweet-tart flavor that comes (surprisingly!) from apples might sound strange, but the result is truly delicious. The unique flavors come together for a comforting and warming dish that will quickly become a new favorite.

This soup calls for rice to be stirred in at the end, so paleo folks will be adding leftover cauliflower rice from Tuesday instead. Vegetarians will get their protein boost from chickpeas instead of chicken.

Weekly Meal Plan Menu | Week of 2/5/18 via @cooksmarts

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