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Healthy Family Dinners: Prep Once, Feast All Week

Simple prep on Sunday jump-starts delicious meals all week long.

By Julie Miltenberger

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Week 1: Plan Ahead

By prepping food on Sunday, you'll be set to feed your family all week long.

The Menu

Sunday
Double-Duty Pot Roast

Monday
Shrimp Marinara

Tuesday
Curried Beef and Biscuits

Wednesday
Baked Penne

Thursday
Chicken Fajitas

Friday
Hoisin-Glazed Pork, Bok Choy, and Snap Peas

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Week 1: The Shopping List

Meat/Seafood

1 bottom round pot roast (4 lbs)
1/2 cup chopped ham
4 chicken cutlets (4 oz each)
4 boneless pork chops
1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp

Produce

2 large yellow onions
1 large sweet onion
1 bulb garlic
1 bunch celery
1 large carrot
1 bunch basil
1 large baking potato
1 sweet red pepper
2 green bell peppers
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 lime
1 bunch bok choy
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1 small red cabbage
1 lb green beans
1 apple

Dairy

1 pkg grated Parmesan
1 pkg (12 oz) refrigerated biscuits
1 pkg (8 oz) shredded reduced-fat mozzarella
6 eggs
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Grocery

1 quart beef broth
1 can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 pkg (12 oz) whole-grain noodles
2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 1/2 oz) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 pkg (13 1/4 oz) whole wheat penne
1 jar McCormick Perfect Pinch Mexican seasoning
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 pkg Minute Rice Multigrain Medley

Freezer

1 pkg (10 oz) green peas

From the Pantry

Olive and canola oil, nonstick spray
Dried thyme
Low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
Cornstarch
Dried oregano
Red pepper flakes
Ground cumin
Garam masala
Ground ginger
Bread crumbs
Hoisin sauce
Light soy sauce

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Sunday's Meal: Double-Duty Pot Roast

Makes: 6 servings, plus leftovers

Prep: 15 minutes

Slow Cook: 6 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW

Cook: 1 minute

Quick side dish: Red Cabbage and Apples

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Monday's Meal: Shrimp Marinara

Makes: 6 servings

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 34 minutes

Quick side dish: Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

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Tuesday's Meal: Curried Beef and Biscuits

Makes: 6 servings

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 16 minutes

Bake: 30 minutes

Test kitchen tip: To clean cast iron, rinse with hot water and scrub with coarse salt to remove burned-on bits. Lightly oil interior.

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Wednesday's Meal: Baked Penne

Makes: 6 servings

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: 45 minutes

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Thursday's Meal: Chicken Fajitas

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 20 minutes

Broil: 6 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

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Friday's Meal: Hoisin-Glazed Pork, Bok Choy and Snap Peas

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 11 minutes

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Week 2: Plan Ahead

By prepping food on Sunday, you'll be set to feed your family all week long.

The Menu

Sunday
Roasted Chicken with Italian Wheat Berry Salad

Monday
Cast-Iron Steak with Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Tuesday
Pear-and-Pecan-Stuffed Squash

Wednesday
Chicken, Apple and Spinach Empanadas

Thursday
Pork Scaloppine with Winter Squash

Friday
Lemony Shrimp Linguine

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Week 2: The Shopping List

Meat/Seafood

2 1/4 lbs bone-in chicken breasts
1 1/4 lbs flatiron or flank steak
1 1/4 lbs center-cut pork chops
1 1/2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp

Produce

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 bunch oregano
1 bunch basil
4 lemons
2 medium sweet onions
1 bulb garlic
1 head cauliflower
4 cups arugula
1 bunch parsley
4 delicata or acorn squash
1 pear
1 bunch sage
1 Gala apple
1 bag (9 oz) baby spinach
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms
2 large shallots
1 bulb fennel

Dairy

1/2 cup baby bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar

Grocery

1 1/2 cups wheat berries, such as Nature's Earthly Choice
1 jar Kalamata olives
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cups pecans
1 can (15.5 oz) butter beans
1 box (12 oz) whole wheat linguine

Freezer

1 bag (10 oz) frozen kale, such as Earthbound Farm
1 pkg (10 oz) empanada
dough wrappers, such as Goya discos
1 bag (12 oz) frozen corn

From the Pantry

Olive oil and canola oil
White balsamic vinegar
Dijon mustard
Milk
Eggs

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Sunday Prep

Roast cauliflower (for Monday).

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Sunday's Meal: Roasted Chicken with Italian Wheat Berry Salad

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Roast: 30 minutes
Let Stand: 5 minutes

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Monday's Meal: Cast-Iron Steak with Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 23 minutes
Let Rest: 5 minutes

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Tuesday's Meal: Pear-and-Pecan-Stuffed Squash

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Roast: 30 minutes
Microwave: 1 minute
Broil: 3 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

Ingredient note: Squash is packed with antioxidant carotenoids. Your clue? Its bright orange hue.

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Wednesday's Meal: Chicken, Apple and Spinach Empanadas

Makes: 5 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredient note: Folate, found in leafy greens like spinach and kale, may offer a way to fight cardiovascular disease.

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Thursday's Meal: Pork Scaloppine with Winter Squash

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 22 minutes

Ingredient note: Mushrooms are rich in potassium, which has been known to regulate blood pressure.

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Friday's Meal: Lemony Shrimp Linguine

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 13 minutes

Ingredient note: Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that aids in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

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Week 3: Plan Ahead

By prepping food on Sunday, you'll be set to feed your family all week long.

The Menu

Sunday
Chili-Rubbed Roast Pork with Spaghetti Squash

Monday
Lemon-Herb Chicken with Quinoa

Tuesday
Baked Cilantro Tilapia

Wednesday
Greek Chicken-Quinoa Salad

Thursday
Pork and Veggie Burritos

Friday
Thai Fish Soup

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Week 3: The Shopping List

Meat/Seafood

2 lbs boneless pork roast
8 boneless, skinless
chicken breasts
8 frozen tilapia filets

Veggies/Fruits

1 (3 3/4 lb) spaghetti squash
2 shallots
1 bulb garlic
3 lemons
2 pints grape tomatoes
1 bag (6 oz) arugula
1/2 lb snow peas
3 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1 English cucumber
1 large red onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 bunch dill
1 pkg fresh oregano
1 small piece ginger root
1 pkg (12 oz) Steam Fresh frozen mixed vegetables
4 baking potatoes

Dairy

1/4 cup reduced-fat feta

Miscellaneous

1 cup brown rice
4 (10-inch) multigrain wraps
3/4 cup light coconut milk
4 cups reduced-sodium

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Sunday Prep

Sunday Prep

  • Cook quinoa (for Monday and Wednesday).
  • Make chicken marinade (for Monday).
  • Cook brown rice (for Tuesday and Friday).
  • Make curry broth (for Friday).
  • Roast pork and squash (for Sunday).

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Video: How to Cook Quinoa
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Sunday's Meal: Chili-Rubbed Roast Pork with Spaghetti Squash

Makes: 4 servings plus leftovers for Thursday
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Roast: 1 1/2 hours
Let Stand: 10 minutes

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Video: How to Cook Brown Rice
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Monday's Meal: Lemon-Herb Chicken with Quinoa

Makes: 4 servings, plus leftovers for Wednesday
Prep: 10 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes
Roast: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Microwave: 3 minutes

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Tuesday's Meal: Baked Cilantro Tilapia with Brown Rice and Snow Peas

Makes: 4 servings, plus leftovers for Friday
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 12 minutes
Microwave: 9 minutes

Side Dish Idea: Quick Slaw  Toss one 16-ounce bag coleslaw mix with 3 tablespoons lime juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. (Adds 126 cal and 10 g fat.)

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Wednesday's Meal: Greek Chicken-Quinoa Salad

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Let Stand: 10 minutes
Microwave: 4 minutes

Side Dish Idea: Herb Cheese Pita  Blend 2 tablespoons softened butter with 1/4 cup reduced-fat feta and 2 tablespoons chopped dill. Spread on a pita; bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes; cut into quarters. (Adds 109 cal and 7 g fat.)

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Thursday's Meal: Pork and Veggie Burritos

Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Microwave: 4 minutes

Move curry broth to fridge to defrost for Friday.

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Friday's Meal: Thai Fish Soup

Makes: 4 servings (about 7 cups)
Cook: 10 minutes
Microwave: 3 minutes

Side Dish Idea: Vegetable Dumplings  Pick up prepared dumplings from the freezer section of your grocery store. Steam or pan-fry 8 as per package directions. (Adds 100 cal and 2 g fat.)

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Week 4: Plan Ahead

By prepping food on Sunday, you'll be set to feed your family all week long.

The Menu

Sunday
Chicken Meatloaf, Whipped Potatoes and Roasted Butternut Squash

Monday
Butternut Squash Risotto

Tuesday
Flank Steak, Broccoli and Green Bean Stir-Fry

Wednesday
Chicken Gyros

Thursday
Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops and Potato Pancakes

Friday
Scallops Fra Diavolo

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Week 4: The Shopping List

Meat/Seafood

1 pkg (20.8 oz) ground turkey
1 lb ground chicken
1 lb pork sausage
12 thin-sliced chicken breast halves
12 thin slices Genoa salami
1 1/2 lbs frozen shrimp

Veggies/Fruits

3 sweet peppers
6 oz bag spinach
12 portobello mushroom caps
2 large onions
2 lbs carrots
1/2 lb green beans
1 1/2 cups pearled couscous
1 pkg sun-dried tomatoes
1 box frozen peas

Dairy

15 oz fat-free ricotta
8 oz shredded cheddar-Jack
5 oz shredded Asiago
3 oz feta cheese
5 large eggs

Bakery/Miscellaneous

1 bunch scallions
1 bunch parsley
1 lime
1 1/3 cups brown rice
1 1/4 cups quinoa
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts
6 large tortillas
1 lb rigatoni
1 can low-sodium black beans
1 can diced tomatoes

From the Pantry

3 cloves garlic
1 pkg oregano
1 jar salsa
1 jar marinara sauce

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Sunday Prep

  • Make 2 meatloaves. Refrigerate one for Wednesday.
  • Prepare potatoes. Use half to make 6 potato pancakes for Thursday.
  • Roast 2 butternut squash. Refrigerate half for risotto on Monday.
  • Chop 3 onions (for meatloaves and risotto).
  • Shred Fontina cheese (for risotto).
  • Slice 1/2 onion (for stir-fry).
  • Cut broccoli into florets (for stir-fry).
  • Slice 1 red pepper and 1 green bell pepper (for fra diavolo).

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Sunday's Meal: Chicken Meatloaf

Makes: 6 servings plus leftovers
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes

Whipped Potatoes

Makes: 6 servings plus leftovers
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

Simple Roasted Butternut Squash

Makes: 6 servings plus leftovers
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes

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Monday's Meal: Fall Butternut Squash Risotto

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 27 minutes

Time-Saving Tip: Buying peeled, diced squash from the produce aisle saves time.

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Tuesday's Meal: Flank Steak, Broccoli and Green Bean Stir-Fry

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes

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Wednesday's Meal: Chicken Gyros

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Microwave: 2 minutes

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Thursday's Meal: Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops and Potato Pancakes

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Refrigerate: 1 hour
Cook: 10 minutes
Broil: 7 minutes

Cooking tips: If subbing broccoli rabe, reduce cooking time to three minutes. For an extra-crispy crust, don't move cakes while frying.

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Friday's Meal: Scallops Fra Diavolo

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Shopping tips: Can't find a jar of fra diavolo? Try a spicy marinara instead.

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