A friend of mine asked if I could put together a week of meals that are healthy, easy, and cost effective for a single working mother. I thought that sounded like a great idea! But I definitely underestimated how much work it would be. It's hard to make food for just two people without having a ton of leftovers - so to get a different meal in each night, I had to figure out how to use ingredients in multiple dishes. And I wanted to make sure that they were healthy, had a bit of variety, and took 30 minutes or less to put together. It's a tall order, but I think I managed. Each recipe is sized for two adults, and there is a shopping list included at the bottom of the post.
First up - Broiled Salmon with Mustard Butter and Boiled Potatoes and Green Beans. This meal is healthy, easy, and comes together in under 30 minutes. I am so in love with this mustard butter (that I discovered making this recipe), I make it all the time now. There are no grains in this dinner, and as far as starchy potatoes go, baby red-skinned are relatively low on the glycemic index. Plus - by cooking more salmon and vegetables than you need, you will already have the ingredients you need for dinner the next night. This meal comes first because fish needs to be cooked the same night that it is purchased for best quality.
The salmon is going to be one of the more expensive proteins for the week, but it is worth it because it is so good for you (not to mention delicious). Gotta get those Omega-3's! However, I do not recommend buying farm-raised Atlantic salmon as it is full of chemicals and pollutants. Instead, I recommend buying wild Alaskan or farmed Norwegian. The Norwegian salmon is pretty great and I can get it here in NoVA for around $15/lb, and coho goes for $13/lb (versus $29/lb for king salmon, yikes!). If you absolutely cannot swing Alaskan or Norwegian salmon, buy another type of fish instead (cod, halibut, or tilapia would be good).
For our second dinner, we use the extra ingredients from the previous night, plus a few more, to make Salmon Nicoise Salad. The only thing you have to cook for this dinner is hard boiled eggs, and you can do those in advance if you like. Boil more than you need, because we will use some in another dish. Like the previous night, this meal is grain-free and loaded with healthy fats. You can see how big one serving is in this photo - I ate the whole thing, Jasper only ate half of his. So if this is too much food for you, plan to set aside half of it for lunch the next day. It should travel well, just keep the dressing separate.
This is actually the most expensive meal of the week (if it is making 2 servings, and not 4), so the kind of greens you use will matter. I used mache or lamb's lettuce, which I think is really delicious. But there are definitely cheaper lettuces/greens out there. A note on olives - nicoise olives are traditional, but expensive, so feel free to sub kalamatas, which taste very similar. You could even buy jarred kalamatas to save even more.
This vegetarian/vegan meal that I made with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies is perfect for summer. It is light and fresh (but still filling), takes advantage of summer produce, and is packed with protein.
All you have to do is combine the ingredients - corn, tomato, avocado, bell pepper, scallions, jalapeno, black beans, cooked quinoa.
Then toss with a dressing of lime, olive oil, honey, and cumin.
Top with some fresh cilantro (or parsley if you, like me, are not a fan) and your perfect summer lunch awaits! You can serve it warm, cold, or room temp - doesn't matter. The ingredient list is also totally flexible, go with whatever ratio of quinoa to veg you like, take out the stuff you don't like, add in something you do, make it yours.
Back again with another vegetarian lunch team-up with Smells Like Brownies. This healthy enchiladas are made with whole wheat tortillas and packed with tons of veggies. There is plenty of protein from black beans, but you could always add some shredded chicken if you want. The sauce couldn't be easier - it's just a jar of salsa! Fresh, bright, and super filling - these are awesome and sure to please the whole family.
Step 1 - place a mixture of black beans, spinach, corn, and cheese onto a tortilla. We added in some diced zucchini, too!