Easy and Nutritious Meals: One Week Meal Plan for the Health Beginner

Thinking Outside the Box

We are a mother and daughter who both grew up cooking and enjoying homemade, healthy meals. Lately we’ve noticed many meal subscription advertisements cropping up on television and online. These subscription services provide a box full of, admittedly, healthy and fresh pre-prepared ingredients along with a recipe to cook a healthy and delicious meal. No grocery shopping, vegetable chopping, nor measuring, and a perfect nutrition balance to boot… all for only $50 to $130 a box (each box provides one to three meals). Nothing against these companies, but our great-grandmothers would be rolling in their graves over this. Somehow people have lost touch with the art and duty of cooking. They would rather spend four times as much money to avoid the hassle than implement a few skills to nourish themselves and their families, and provide posterity with sustainable knowledge.

That is why we have compiled a list of our favorite go-to meals, with the recipes and a grocery list. These meals are nutritious, delicious, simple to make, and very affordable. We are hoping to inspire people to start cooking again, by making it incredibly easy on them. The benefits of cooking at home are countless: proper nutrition providing longer and better quality lives; financial gain opening up a world of opportunity; local shopping supporting the community; time spent cooking together strengthening familial bonds, and many more. We hope this guide helps you.

The Plan

Day 1

Lunch: Homemade pizza

Dinner: One pan chicken and veggies

Day 2

Lunch: Tacos

Dinner: Crockpot barbecue chicken and baked potato wedges

Day 3

Lunch: Turkey wraps and fresh veggies

Dinner: Whole wheat spaghetti (or spaghetti squash) with homemade sauce

Day 4

Lunch: Chicken Salad

Dinner: Smoked salmon and asparagus

Day  5

Lunch: Homemade mac n’ cheese

Dinner: Crockpot salsa chicken over brown rice

Day 6

Lunch: Crockpot pulled pork and sweet potato fries

Dinner: Salad bar

Day 7

Lunch: Tuna salad

Dinner: Chicken and veggie stir fry over brown rice

Breakfast

Oatmeal bake

Overnight oats

Smoothies

Egg bake

Healthy desserts

Pumpkin bars

Banana bread

Greek fro-yo

Dark chocolate

The Recipes

Day 1

Homemade pizza

Ingredients:

  • 12” whole wheat pizza crust
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce (can substitute no-salt-added sauce for healthier option)
  • ½ t. garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove, crushed)
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • Your choice of toppings (suggestions: grilled chicken, cheese, peppers, mushrooms, onions)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or sprinkle with goat cheese)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Mix tomato sauce, garlic, and italian seasoning together and spread on crust
  3. Add toppings and cheese
  4. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown

One pan chicken and vegetables

Recipe adapted from skinnytaste. Suggested other veggies: potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, parsnips.

http://www.skinnytaste.com/balsamic-chicken-with-roasted/

Ingredients:

  • 8 (4 oz each) boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 10 medium asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in half
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onions, chopped in large chunks
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced in half long, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 5 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano or thyme
  • 2 leaves fresh sage, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Season chicken with pepper. Spray 2 large baking sheets with oil.
  3. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl using your hands to mix well then arrange everything onto the prepared baking sheets spread out in a single layer.
  4. The vegetables should not touch the chicken or it will steam instead of roast.
  5. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are roasted and tender.

Day 2

Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 envelope Mrs. Dash taco seasoning (or other low sodium/preservative free brand)
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Desired toppings, such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped onion, avocado slices, salsa, sour cream

Instructions:

  1. Cook ground turkey in skillet over medium heat until brown
  2. Add seasoning to ground turkey
  3. Pile everything into a tortilla and enjoy

Crockpot barbecue chicken and baked potato wedges

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c barbecue sauce (we recommend Annie’s Naturals)
  • 4 medium baked potatoes
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 t paprika
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 2 t onion powder

Instructions

  1. Coat raw chicken with barbecue sauce
  2. Place in crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  4. Cut potatoes into wedges
  5. Mix olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, and onion powder together
  6. Coat potatoes with olive oil mixture
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes, flip potatoes over, and bake another 15-20 minutes

Day 3

Turkey wraps and fresh vegetables

Ingredients:

  • Deli fresh shaved turkey (we discourage the packaged kind, which comes with tons of preservatives and sodium)
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Cheese if desired: mozzarella and swiss contain the lowest sodium
  • Condiments: mustard and hummus are the healthiest choices
  • Vegetables for toppings as desired: lettuce, spinach, onion, peppers, etc.
  • Baby or whole carrots
  • Bell pepper strips
  • Raw broccoli
  • Raw cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Hummus or dill dip if desired

Instructions:

  1. Construct turkey wraps
  2. Add veggie sides to plate
  3. Enjoy!

Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti or 1 medium spaghetti squash http://damndelicious.net/2016/04/26/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash/print/
  • Diced tomatoes– 6 medium fresh or 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes with no salt added
  • 6 oz. tomato paste if using canned tomatoes
  • 2 t Garlic powder or 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 T or more if desired Italian Seasoning
  • Meatballs (optional)
    • 1 ½ lbs. Hamburger
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 large diced onion
    • 1 T parmesan cheese
    • 1 c Panko
    • 1 t pepper
    • 2 t garlic powder
    • 1 T italian seasoning
  • Fresh grated parmesan

Instructions:

  1. Boil spaghetti as instructed on box, or bake spaghetti squash
  2. In a skillet, simmer tomatoes, garlic, and italian seasoning 15-20 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency
  3. If making meatballs, mix all meatball ingredients and roll into balls. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Add to sauce.
  4. Pour sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle with parmesan as desired.

Day 4

Chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T cumin
  • ½ paprika
  • ½ c sliced almonds
  • ½ dried cranberries or sliced grapes

Instructions:

  1. To prepare chicken, bring a large pot of water to a boil then add all raw chicken
  2. Boil 15 to 20 minutes, until internal temperature of chicken reaches 170 degrees F
  3. Once chicken has cooled, dice or shred
  4. Mix together all ingredients
  5. Enjoy alone or as a sandwich on whole grain bread

Smoked salmon and garlic asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 1 t pepper
  • 3 T liquid smoke (we recommend Colgin brand to avoid additives)
  • 2 bunches asparagus, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic or 3 t garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Place salmon, skin side down, on greased baking pan
  2. Sprinkle salmon with brown sugar and pepper
  3. Drizzle with liquid smoke
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours
  5. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until flaky
  6. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-low heat
  7. Add asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes
  8. Add garlic or garlic powder and continue to cook until softened, 15 to 20 minutes

Day 5

Homemade mac and cheese

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni (about 1 ½ cups uncooked)
  • 3 T. butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups lowfat or skim milk
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350°F.  Spray a 1 ½ quart casserole dish with cooking spray.  
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
  3. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  
  4. Stir in flour until smooth.  
  5. Add milk; cook and stir constantly until thickened.
  6. Add cheese; stir until melted.  
  7. Stir macaroni into cheese sauce.
  8. Pour into casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  

Crockpot salsa chicken over brown rice

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 16 oz jar salsa (we recommend the Green Mountain Gringo brand for low sodium and no preservatives)
  • Brown rice

Instructions:

  1. Add raw chicken and entire jar of salsa into crockpot
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours
  3. Cook brown rice as instructed on box/bag
  4. Serve salsa chicken over rice or make tacos or taco salad

Day 6

Pulled pork and sweet potato fries

Pulled pork recipe is adapted from The Splendid Table

www.splendidtable.org/recipes/ultimate-cheater-pulled-pork

Can be served as sandwiches or stand alone

Sweet potatoes recipe is adapted from POPSUGAR Fitness http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthy-Sweet-Potato-Fries-34184453

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ -3 pound boneless Boston butt pork roast or boneless country-style pork ribs
  • 2 T. paprika
  • 1 T. black pepper
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. dry mustard
  • ½ cup bottled smoke
  • Barbecue sauce of your choice
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)
  • 2 large garnet yams or sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions:

  1. Cut the pork butt into medium (2- to 3-inch) chunks (the ribs don’t need to be cut up).  
  2. Use cooking spray to coat slow cooker (or use a slow cooker liner for cleanup convenience).
  3. In a small bowl, combine paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and mustard.  Sprinkle this mixture over the meat and rub it in, coating the pieces evenly.  
  4. Pour the bottled smoke over the meat.  Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender and reaches an internal temperature of 190 F.
  5. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Let rest until cool enough to handle.
  6. Pull the meat into strands. It should shred very easily.
  7. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.  
  8. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  9. Toss cut sweet potatoes in olive oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne. Make sure every wedge is evenly coated.
  10. Roast cut-side down for 30 minutes, turning once.

Salad bar

Ingredients (suggested):

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Sliced almonds
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Grated mozzarella or swiss cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Vinaigrette (balsamic, red wine, etc) dressing
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Grated carrots
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Grilled chicken
  • Sliced ham
  • Sliced turkey 

Instructions:

  1. You know what to do.

Day 7

Tuna salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans 12 oz. tuna in water
  • 1 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • ½ c chopped red onion
  • Olive oil and hummus (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Drain tuna
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients
  3. If desired, add up to 1 T olive oil for texture and hummus to taste
  4. Enjoy alone, on whole grain or multi-seed crackers, or as a sandwich on whole grain bread

Chicken stir fry over brown rice

Adapted from allrecipes.com

If you can find Ying’s brand stir-fry sauce, it is an easy alternative  www.yingskitchen.com/Sauce_Stirfry.htm

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into pieces; 1 large green bell pepper, cut into squares; 1 zucchini, cut into rounds and quartered; 3 cloves garlic, minced. *Easy substitute: 2 bags frozen stir fry vegetables.
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Mix chicken and soy sauce in a bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat; cook and stir broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer vegetables and sauce to a large bowl and wipe skillet clean.
  5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat; cook and stir chicken until meat is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in vegetables; continue to cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes more. Sprinkle with green onions.
  7. Cook brown rice as instructed on box/bag
  8. Serve stir fry over rice

Breakfast

Oatmeal bake

Adapted from yummly.com http://www.yummly.co/#recipe/Apple-Pie-Baked-Oatmeal-1629383

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 3 T flax seeds
  • 2 T flour (whole wheat encouraged)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • cinnamon (to taste)
  • allspice (to taste)
  • Stevia or sugar (to taste)
  • 1/2 cups applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 apples (small)
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F and grease 1 small baking pan
  2. Dice apples into small cubes
  3. Combine oats, flax seed, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and stevia.
  4. Add egg, unsweetened applesauce, sautéed apples, and water until mixture is thick but wet enough to pour out of the bowl into the pan
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes
  6. Let cool and serve

Overnight oats

Google this term and you will find literally hundreds of results; there’s bound to be something you like. Here is a link with 50 recipes. Personally recommended suggestions include the carrot cake and brownie batter, and here is a very simple vanilla recipe, #38 on the list. http://www.eatthis.com/overnight-oat-recipes-for-weight-loss

Ingredients:

  • ½ Cup Oats
  • 1 Tbs Flax
  • ½ Cup water
  • ⅔ Cup French Vanilla or Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Walnut Pieces

Instructions:

  1. In the bottom of a mason jar or a container add oats and flax, then pour water over the oats, and cover with vanilla yogurt. No need to stir. Refrigerate overnight (8-12 hours).
  2. In the morning top with Brown Sugar and Walnut pieces and enjoy!

Smoothies

This is another breakfast idea that can be Googled to produce tailored results. A good basis to a healthy breakfast smoothie is a liquid such as water or milk, a fiber such as fruit, spinach, flaxseed, or chia seed, and a protein such as protein powder or a nut butter. Add ice and blend. Smoothies have a lot of wiggle room so have fun playing around with what you like!

Egg bake

Many variations can be made on this item as well; more veggies, no meat, no potatoes, a different kind of cheese, etc. This is one example of a hearty yet healthy egg bake recipe. It could also be made in a muffin tin so that you have a grab and go breakfast every day! http://twohealthykitchens.com/2014/04/10/farmers-market-overnight-breakfast-egg-casserole/

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1½ c diced sweet onion (from about half a large onion)
  • 8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (sometimes labeled “country style”)
  • 2 c shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 c diced green pepper (from about 1 small-medium pepper)
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (to equal about 1 – 1¼ c)
  • ½ c chopped green onions (from about 6 onions)
  • 12 eggs
  • 1¾ c non-fat milk
  • 1½ t dried parsley
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 t dried basil
  • ¼ t black pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook sausage, onions, mushrooms, and garlic until sausage is no longer pink and mushrooms have given off some of their liquid, about 10 minutes. Drain the liquid.
  2. In a 9×13 pan coated with cooking spray, layer potatoes (there is no need to thaw them), sausage mixture, 1 cup cheese, green peppers, tomatoes, and green onions.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, parsley, salt, basil, and pepper. Whisk thoroughly to combine, then add remaining 1 cup of cheese and whisk again. Pour egg mixture evenly over other ingredients in baking pan.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. Bake casserole, uncovered, for about 60-70 minutes, or until egg in middle is just set and edges are lightly golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Healthy desserts

Pumpkin bars

Adapted from Bodybuilding.com http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jamie-easons-livefit-recipes-pumpkin-protein-bars.html

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 4-oz. no sugar added applesauce
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground clove
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 15-oz. can raw pumpkin
  • 2 oat flour (raw oats ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein or 1/2 c flour
  • ½ c almond milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine first 11 ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the oat flour, whey protein, and almond milk, and mix until incorporated. Spread batter into the Pyrex dish and bake for 30 min.

Greek frozen yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 4 c any frozen fruit
  • ½ c Greek yogurt
  • 2 T honey

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and blend in a food processor or blender.
  2. Enjoy!

Dark chocolate

Fresh fruit

The Grocery List

This list includes everything you should need for all 14 of the lunch and dinner recipes.

Produce:

  1. 3 bunches asparagus
  2. 3 red bell peppers
  3. 2-8 tomatoes
  4. 2 large whole carrots
  5. 5 oz sliced mushrooms
  6. 1 head of lettuce
  7. 1 bag of spinach
  8. 1 avocado
  9. 1 bag of celery
  10. 1-2 heads of broccoli
  11. 1-2 heads of cauliflower
  12. 2 red onions
  13. 2 onions
  14. Garlic
  15. 4 medium baking potatoes
  16. 2 large sweet potatoes
  17. 1 medium spaghetti squash
  18. Other veggies as desired for pizza, turkey wraps, and salad

Refrigerated goods:

  1. Eggs
  2. Butter
  3. Skim milk
  4. 32 oz plain Greek yogurt
  5. Hummus

Meat:

  1. 8 chicken thighs
  2. 14 chicken breasts
  3. 1 lb ground turkey
  4. 1 ½ lb hamburger
  5. 4 salmon fillets
  6. 3 lb boneless pork
  7. Other meat for pizza and salad toppings

Cheese:

  1. Mozzarella and/or swiss, both sliced and grated
  2. Grated cheddar cheese
  3. Cottage cheese

Canned:

  1. 8 oz tomato sauce
  2. 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  3. 2 12 oz. tuna in water

Dry goods:

  1. 12” whole wheat pizza crust
  2. 1 box whole wheat spaghetti
  3. 1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
  4. 1 bag/box brown rice
  5. 1-2 bags whole wheat tortillas
  6. 1 bag whole wheat hamburger buns
  7. Cooking spray
  8. 1 bottle bbq sauce
  9. 1 bottle liquid smoke
  10. 1 bottle balsamic vinegar
  11. 1 bottle olive oil
  12. 1 bottle low sodium soy sauce
  13. Mustard
  14. 1 16 oz jar salsa
  15. 8 oz low sodium chicken broth
  16. 1 can Panko
  17. 1 bag dried cranberries
  18. 1 bag sliced almonds

Seasonings:

  1. Italian seasoning
  2. Pepper
  3. Rosemary
  4. Thyme
  5. Oregano
  6. Sage
  7. Paprika
  8. Onion powder
  9. Cumin
  10. Chili powder
  11. 1 envelope Mrs. Dash taco seasoning
  12. Cayenne
  13. Dry mustard
  14. Flour
  15. Brown sugar

 

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