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.
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!
A while back, I posted a super tasty enchilada recipe. Now that I am practicing healthier eating habits, I wanted to revamp that recipe to be lighter. I used whole wheat tortillas, fat free sour cream, fat free soup, and reduced fat cheese and they tasted just as great as the original!
Before I get into the main part of the recipe, I want to talk about a basic technique that I use all the time. A lot of my recipes call for "cooked, shredded chicken". You could acquire that in a number of different ways (and in fact, shredding a rotisserie chicken is one of the easiest) but I want to show you my favorite method. I like to poach big batches of chicken at a time (especially when I see a bulk pack on sale), shred it, and freeze it so that I always have some on hand.
To do this, place boneless skinless chicken in the bottom of a large pot. Toss a quartered onion, carrots (no need to peel), celery, garlic, peppercorns, a bay leaf, and herbs over the top. I like to use thyme and this year I grew some myself! Cover with water (just the chicken, the veg can be floating), bring to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to low so that the water is barely at a simmer. Partially cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat completely, and allow chicken to sit in the hot water for another 15-20 minutes. Doing it this way prevents is from being overcooked and keeps it moist and tender.
Oh boy, you guys are in for a treat with this one! Creamy, cheesy enchiladas stuffed with shredded chicken, spinach, corn, and chiles; served up with some Mexican rice and refried beans - to die for! I love sour cream enchiladas - they are one of the first dishes (other than nachos and quesadillas) that I started eating when I began to get over my fear that all Mexican food was spicy.