To facilitate meal planning, it’s immensely helpful to have a roster of recipes. You can always try something new when the mood moves you, but having a good number of standbys makes planning easier. Simply pick a few from your list each week, then pick different ones the following week, and so on. With enough meals in your roster, you can avoid repeating a recipe too often.
As an example, here is my recipe roster for supper/dinner. I’ve aimed for a good variety of main dishes, including vegetarian options, fish, a fair amount of chicken, and some beef and pork. I’ve also included sides and vegetables. For each day I select one of each: main, side, and vegetable. Done and done.
(V)= vegetarian (VO)=vegetarian option
I’ve included some recipes here along with some standard main dish components you can add to your rotation using whatever recipe/variation you prefer. This is a long list broken down as follows: categories for each protein in meals cooked fresh, i.e. the night they are being served, then ideas for leftovers, make-ahead, and store-bought meals.
- Chickpea Pasta (V)
- Red Lentil Coconut Curry (V)
- Spiced Lentil Soup (V)–More of a stew, this soup is quite hearty.
- Baked Chicken Breast
- Baked Curry Chicken Fingers
- Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever–My kids have kind of gone off these, but I always enjoyed them. The red enchilada sauce is really good.
- Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce
- Oven Baked “Fried” Chicken
- Quick Ramen Noodle Stir Fry (VO)–I use ground chicken and swap chicken stock for the beef stock. You could probably use vegan ground meat substitutes too for a vegetarian option, but I have not tried that.
- Roast/BBQ whole chicken, turkey breast, with a plan for leftovers. See below for some ideas.
Pork, Beef & Fish
- BBQ ribs
- Broiled/baked/BBQ trout, salmon, or whatever fish you prefer.
- Garlic Butter Shrimp–I don’t eat seafood but my family likes this recipe.
- Mashed Potato, Cheese & Bacon Quesadillas
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- Roast beef or pork roast, with a plan for leftovers. See below for ideas.
- Sausage and sauerkraut–Pan fry sausage rounds and sauerkraut in your preferred portions, then serve over spaetzle, rice, or whatever starch you prefer.
- Tofu Chorizo (V)
- Vegan Crispy Korean BBQ Tofu (V)
- Tofu Wraps with Lime and Cilantro (V)
- Hot & Sour Soup (V)–Could be a main or a starter, depending on what you serve with it.
Ideas for leftover meat, for example, from a roast.
- Fajitas–We use this Carlsbad Cravings recipe with either poultry or beef. The Chipotle Lime Crema is a big hit in our house, using either sour cream or plain Greek yogurt as a base.
- Stir-fry with leftover chicken/turkey/beef/pork–Try the ramen noodle version above or Broccoli & Udon Stir-Fry.
- Beef Brisket Street Tacos–Intended for leftover beef but it might work with other meats. I did not use the avocado cream but my family thought these were good without it.
- Sub/sandwich with leftover chicken/turkey/beef/pork –Slice the meat and add your favourite toppings. Easy peasy. Use bread or any kind of large roll (Italian, Ciabatta, Portuguese etc.)
These are meals that use up vegetables past their prime and any bits of leftover protein you might have in your fridge. The great thing about fridge cleaners is their adaptability. You can use the same basic idea with whatever different vegetables and protein you have on hand.
- Homemade pizza. (VO) Use store-bought dough and canned pizza sauce to make things easier, or make your own from scratch if you have time. You can add all kinds of vegetables, cheese, and chopped meat to a pizza. We like feta on our pizza and often use up peppers, tomatoes, and red onions that have been sitting in our fridge a bit too long.
- Omelette, frittata, or quiche. (VO) You can put just about anything into egg dishes like these. I particularly like mushrooms, most kinds of cheese, peppers, and greens. If you want to try quiche, a store-bought pie crust makes it faster. Serve a salad on the side for a more complete meal. For omelette tips and recipes, check out this page: Basic Omelette. The same site has tips for frittatas here: Basic Frittata Recipe.
- Soups are great for using up vegetables like carrots, onions, and celery. Here is a good turkey soup cooked with leftover bones that could also be done with chicken: Mom’s Turkey Soup. For a basic vegetable broth, here is a recipe that uses vegetable scraps and skins: Easy 1-Pot Vegetable Broth. Add pasta to this soup to make it a little more hearty or use it as the basis for any kind of vegetable soup or stew.
- Again, a stir-fry is good, including the ones I mentioned earlier: Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry or Broccoli & Udon Stir-Fry. You can double the sauce if you are adding extra ingredients. Add-ins that work well include mushrooms, onion, snow peas, sweet peppers, carrots, edamame, cooked chicken or pork, or tofu.
Make Ahead & Freeze in Meal-Size Portions
Make ahead, thaw, heat, and serve. It’s amazing the sense of relief you get from knowing you can pull a meal-sized portion of something delicious from the freezer and have supper ready in minutes.
- Chili Chicken–A bit involved, so a good one to make ahead. There are many recipes online for this kind of dish, but I’ve always loved this recipe: Chili Chicken with Mango Slaw. The slaw is so good!
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork or Chicken
- Trinidad Chicken Roti
In my meal plans, I always like to include options for when I don’t feel like cooking, like, for example, most Fridays.
- Cabbage rolls or stuffed pasta.
- Fresh or frozen burgers–chicken, turkey, beef, or vegetarian.
- Frozen breaded chicken or turkey nuggets or fingers–See my idea for “elevating” them with cilantro sauce.
- Sushi (VO)–Pair with edamame for a more complete meal.
- Easy Roasted Sweet Potatoes (with Fajita Seasoning)
- Baked Potato Wedges
- Chuck Hughes’ Baked French Fries
- Cheese Biscuits
- Easy Pasta Salad–We use store-bought Greek feta dressing to make this super quick and easy.
- Healthy Greek Freekeh Salad–I’ve made this with farro too, trying to increase the amount of whole grains we eat.
- Quick Bean Salad
Sometimes a plain starch is all you need with a meal. Choose one of the options below, cook according to package directions, and pair with any number of dishes from broiled fish to curries, stir fries, and any of the make-ahead meals listed above. Or find a pilaf recipe you like to add more flavour to a basic side dish.
- Basmati rice
- Brown rice
- Mashed potatoes
- Ramen noodles–Skip the seasoning packet to cut the salt and toss cooked ramen into a stir fry.
- Spaetzle–A German noodle that works well with stroganoff or sausage and sauerkraut.
- Udon noodles
Vegetables–Quick & Easy
I don’t know about anyone else, but if I’m spending a good amount of time on my main and side dishes, I want the vegetable to be super easy. We cycle through these options week after week, occasionally changing up the raw vegetable options in the crudites. Of course there are many more options available–squash, cauliflower, rutabaga, sweet potatoes–but I’ve erred on the side of keeping things simple.
- Broccoli Stir Fry with Ginger and Garlic–a mainstay for us but I skip the first step and just use jarred toasted sesame seeds, available at most grocery store sushi counters.
- Coleslaw–I buy packaged slaw mix (washing it thoroughly first) and use either of these recipes for dressing: Love & Lemons or the slaw that accompanies these Vegetarian Sloppy Joes, which are also really good.
- Corn on the cob–Definitely seasonal but always a welcome addition to our table.
- Crudites–carrot and celery sticks, sweet pepper slices, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices or whatever vegetables you prefer. Serve with dip if you like.
- Edamame–This is technically a soybean so it could be a side or a vegetable, depending on your point of view.
- Garden salad–Use whatever vegetables you have on hand; include spinach or kale for more nutrition.
- Garlic Parmesan Green Beans–A really delicious way to serve green beans.
- Grated beets and carrots–That’s the whole recipe: grate an equal amount of carrot and beet, toss, then serve. (It’s one of my husband’s creations.)
- Green beans, steamed. As the name suggests, just plain, steamed green beans. Steamed broccoli is another option.
- Jicama slaw. This is more of a summer dish but it is so tasty and refreshing. The tofu dish in this recipe is also very good.
- Kale Salad–Kale is pretty divisive, but I love this salad.
- Ultimate Caesar Salad–We love the dressing in this recipe.