We get it. Meal planning is overwhelming, especially when it’s nice outside. It’s easy to throw in the towel: “I’ve had enough! We’re having cereal or take out the rest of the week!”
That’s why we’ve done the work for you. Today we want to share a week’s worth of our favorite, healthy dinners that will also make your budget happy. Which one looks the best to you?
Our Favorite Healthy & Delicious Summer Meal Ideas:
Monday: Steak Salad
In our minds, this light and delicious salad is the epitome of summer. It’s quick and easy, and you can use any cut of steak. (We prefer sirloin tips.) The best part? You can completely revise this recipe to use whatever vegetables, dressings, or other toppings (i.e., seeds, nuts, or fruits like strawberries and apples) you already have in the house!
Tuesday: Sautéed Veggies with Rice and Beans
Black beans are one of those power foods that pack a punch of protein and nutrition, and we all know how important veggies are. That’s why we love making a sautéed veggie recipe like this one, and then adding black beans into the skillet 1-2 minutes before the veggies are ready. Meanwhile, cook up your favorite kind of rice (of course brown rice gives you the most nutritional bang for your buck — er, for your calorie). Then ladle your rice into a bowl, cover it with the bean and veggie mixture, and top it with shredded cheddar cheese. Voilà!
Wednesday: Garlic Butter Steelhead Trout
There’s been so much talk in health communities about the importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and how they’re not only important for the brain, but they also might help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. And guess what? The professionals are saying fish is the best source of said Omega-3s! So why not add some fish into your summer diet? (Unless you’re allergic or vegetarian/vegan, of course.) This recipe is a new favorite because it won over those of us who don’t typically enjoy fish. Plus, it’s SO EASY. We recommend a side of rice or baked potatoes. That being said, here you can find several great recipes for sides that go well with fish.
Thursday: Farmer’s Salad with Beet Vinaigrette
Our opinion? This is an amazing summer idea, but we would skip numbers two and four in the recipe, and instead use pre-made dressing and croutons to make it a little simpler. We also would pick up a couple of fresh beets, shred them, and sauté them for a few minutes until they’re soft and warm, then adding them on top of this salad. With the addition of beets, you’ll get that B vitamin folate alongside vitamin C goodness, and it tastes so…YUM!
Friday: Chicken Fajitas
Time to get your salsa on! This recipe combines some vegetable nutrition with the protein of chicken and the flavor you find just over the border. Tip: Our favorite kind of meat for fajitas is boneless, skinless chicken thighs — so we’d just swap those out the chicken breasts and use thighs instead.
Saturday: Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Few things say summer like pesto! And of course this recipes gives you the vitamins and fiber of broccoli, with the protein of cannellini beans. Tip: If you want to make this recipe even easier, just buy pre-made pesto. We like the Aldi version, which tastes delicious and is quite inexpensive.
Sunday: Curried Chicken Pitas
We love that this summery recipe includes cantaloupe for its unique flavor and antioxidants. Once again, you can use any kind of chicken — it doesn’t have to be chicken breast. So when you make your chicken fajitas earlier in the week, you can set aside a little extra meat for this recipe.
Lastly, here are a few of our favorite budget-saving tips for meal planning:
- Never be afraid to substitute food items you already have in your kitchen in place of the spices and ingredients listed in the recipe. We love to Google, “What’s a substitute for ___?” and see if we already have a replacement at home.
- Beans are your best friend. They’re cheap, easy, and carry low-calorie protein and fiber. Any time you need protein in a meal, consider using beans.
- You want to get a variety of foods (and especially proteins; aka, meats and/or beans) each week. That’s why we’ve split up our meals to alternate between beans and meats. However, when you’re able to share an ingredient over two or three meals, it really cuts down on your overall cost. For example, in our meal plan, you can share veggies over recipes two and four, lettuce greens over recipes one and five, and sour cream over recipes two and seven.