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.
Melissa of Smells Like Brownies has been doing a CSA this year, so for one of our weekly vegetarian lunches we decided to use up some of the beets and lettuce she had received. This super delicious and filling salad involves sweet roasted beets, fragrant toasted walnuts, and creamy goat cheese. Simple and fresh - this is a great way to enjoy beets!
Warm Beet and Chèvre Salad
from Smells Like Brownies
3/4 lb beets (about 3 medium)
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
1 tbsp honey
salt and black pepper
1 wheat baguette, cut into 1/4″ slices
1 medium head lettuce, such as Bibb or Boston
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
4–6 oz goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap the beets tightly in foil and roast them for 1–1.5 hours, or until they are soft enough to pierce through the thickest part with a butter knife. Unwrap the beets and let them cool 10–15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Lightly brush the baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Set the slices on a cookie sheet and broil in the oven for 3 minutes.
Rinse and tear up the lettuce. Sprinkle the toasted, chopped nuts and oregano over the greens.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub the skins off the flesh. Cut the beets into slices or wedges and sprinkle over the salad.
Top the salad with crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of the oil and vinegar dressing.
Halloumi is a salty, dense Greek cheese that is super amazing when grilled. My friend Melissa, from Smells Like Brownies, is a big fan so she was pretty excited when I showed her this recipe. Hearty quinoa mixed with lettuce and veggies and topped with warm cheese - delish!
We didn't end up having the cucumbers the original recipe called for, so we used tomatoes instead and they were great. I do really like cucumbers, though, so I would say to use both. The more veg, the better, right? The dressing includes red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, and scallion - yum!
We also discovered (by oiling one side and not the other of an electric grill) that the cheese gets better grill marks when the grill is not oiled. Don't worry, though, it won't stick!
This is a very satisfying (and light!) vegetarian lunch that is sure to make even meat eaters happy.
This salad is packed with a ton of flavor, and all the vegetables make sure that it is actually a healthy salad. For those who don't know - it is easy for a salad to get out of control with cheese and dressing and restaurant salads can have well over 1000 calories. This salad doesn't need a whole lot of dressing, b/c the ingredients have a lot of flavor. Also - Feta cheese is low-fat and it has a strong flavor, so you don't need to use much.