Late Summer Meal Plan

Hello, hello! I think almost every one of my blog posts in the past seven years could begin with, “It has been a while since I posted.” With that behind us, welcome to last week’s meal plan at my house. Even when there’s no time to get it on the internet, I still feed my family. This is a week with time to share. Huzzah.

My recent meal plans have focused more on simplicity than in previous years. Even though my kids are growing up and entertaining themselves better, I haven’t had the desire to plunge back into super complex recipes. Sometimes I’ll throw in a more extensive recipe, but it’s rare.

I wanted to offer more than a few recipes, so here’s the deal… I’m going to give you my meal plan for the week, followed by a brief explanation of what I did, a link to each recipe, and the grocery list of everything in the meal. Here’s what I would do with the grocery list/ingredient info. If you’re using three of the recipes, copy and paste the ingredients into an email to yourself. Then delete the ingredients you have in your pantry or fridge. Ta da–grocery list!!! You might have 10 better ways to do that, so please let me know how you gather your grocery list.

Pesto Tortellini with Broccoli

From: The Kitchn

Servings: 4-6 as written

Time: 25 minutes (max)

Notes: Okay, I’m big into leftovers, so I doubled the recipe. I also chose to roast the broccoli instead of blanche it. I LOVE roasted broccoli. Honestly, it’s probably a more cohesive dish as the recipe is written. And it gets one less large dish dirty. So you get to decide what’s more important… roasted broccoli or a cohesive pasta dish. If you want to go my route, follow the recipe, but cook your broccoli as Cookie and Kate suggests here.

Grocery list (for the 4-6 serving version):

Kosher salt
1 pound broccoli
about 20 oz. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
3 tablespoons basil pesto, plus more as needed
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Ultimate Zucchini Bread

From: Smitten Kitchen

Servings: 8-10

Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (plus cooling time)

Notes: I usually choose to bake something not essential to the weekly menu on a leftovers day. It makes it a lighter than average cooking day, and I still get tasty treats throughout the week. Are you surprised that I doubled the recipe? Who wants to make 1 loaf of zucchini bread when they could make 2 loaves in just a minute or two of extra time?! One is now in our stomachs, and the other is in the freezer for a rainy day. Everything else was done according to the recipe. I love Smitten Kitchen.

Grocery List (for 1 loaf):

2 cups (13 ounces or 370 grams) grated, packed zucchini
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (160 ml) of a neutral oil such as safflower, olive oil, or melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) raw or turbinado sugar

Roast Veggie Farro Bowls

From: Small But Valuable

Servings: 8-ish

Time: 30-45 minutes


Once in a rare while, I cook without a recipe. This is one of those non-recipe recipes. We had “squmpkins” in the veggie garden (some hybrid of pumpkins and either spaghetti squash, acorn squash, or summer squash), and I wanted to use them with a butternut squash. Here’s what I did…

  1. Make as much farro as you would like according to package directions. Quinoa, rice, or pearled barley would be good substitutes. I made 8 servings, because I like leftovers.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (or a different temperature, if you are roasting something other than pumpkin and butternut squash).
  3. Chop veggies you have around–butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, broccoli, whatever you think sounds good here. I cut the squmpkins like I might cut an acorn squash (in case you find yourself in possession of squmpkins, too)–into wedges about 3/4″ thick. Then I peeled and chopped butternut squash into 3/4″ cubes. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the veggies to distribute those additions evenly. Spread all of your veggies on a baking sheet in one even layer, making sure they have room so they don’t steam instead of roast. Check on the veggies around 10 minutes (again, different for different veggies), flipping them over to get some nice brown on more than one side. The butternut squash and squmkin took about 18-20 minutes to roast.
  4. Meanwhile make a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Pour about 1/2 a cup of olive oil into a jar, add about 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and a bit of salt and pepper. You can adjust this to be as strong or mild as you like. I prefer a more vinegary vinaigrette, so make it your own.
  5. Serve farro, adding roasted veggies on top. Sprinkle pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) and feta cheese over the farro base. Pour vinaigrette on top for extra flavor and moisture.

Grocery List:

1 butternut squash
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup pepitas
4 oz. feta cheese
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Greek Tuna Salad with Hummus and Bread

From: The Kitchn

Servings: 2-4

Time: 15-20 minutes

Notes: Once again, I doubled the recipe. This recipe requires no actual heat (except for warming up the bread). I love a homemade meal that doesn’t require much fuss. I served this with hummus and naan. Naan? Yeah, it isn’t technically the right thing to serve with Greek tuna salad. Toasted high quality something or other or a good pita bread would be more traditional. I really love naan though. It’s so fluffy and wonderful. Use whatever bread product you want. Even pita chips. Live your dreams.

Grocery List (for 2-4 servings):

2 (5-ounce) cans oil-packed tuna
1/2 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumbers
1/4 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Naan or bread of your choice

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

From: The Kitchn

Servings: 6-ish

Time: about 30 minutes

Notes: We liked these so much that we made them two weeks in a row. I also forgot to get a picture twice in a row. The chicken technique does help them cook really well. Even the 5- and 6-year-olds in the house recognized that this was a superior way to cook chicken breasts. Also, if you have a charcoal grill, remember to factor in the time it takes to get the grill warmed up. Making the bacon in the oven ahead of time cuts down on mess and cook time at crunch time. Don’t be scared by the long ingredient list. There are lots of spices you possibly already own.

Grocery List:

1/3 cup + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 pounds total)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 slices Colby Jack cheese
6 brioche buns or your choice of hamburger buns
1 large beefsteak tomato
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 green leaf lettuce leaves
12 slices cooked bacon

Salmon Nicoise Salad

From: lots of sources, primarily Molly Yeh, also adjusted heavily to be more Small But Valuable

Servings: 4-8 servings (double the Molly recipe at least)

Time: 45-ish minutes

Notes: This is becoming “True Crimes: Cooking Edition.” I don’t use a recipe for this anymore. The key components of nicoise salad are as follows: boiled eggs, cherry or grape tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, and either canned tuna, smoked salmon, or baked salmon. This week, my version included roasted potatoes, green beans, and salmon. Add a balsamic vinaigrette on top and garnish with kalamata olives and capers. I arrange the main ingredients in stripes, because I think it’s pretty, and so do my kids. This is probably in my top 10 favorite meals. I do not include lettuce or onions, even though Molly’s recipe does include those. The first recipe I used for nicoise salad didn’t include those, and here we are years later. The grocery list is for a modified version of Molly’s recipe.

Grocery List (for double the Molly version):

2 pounds rainbow fingerling potatoes, quartered
2/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1.5 lb. green beans (I sometimes use frozen ones and microwave them to make this quicker… this time I used fresh green beans and roasted them at the same time as the potatoes)
8 large eggs
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
6-ish oz. smoked salmon fillets, or salmon to bake, or 4 cans tuna in oil
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 cup nicoise or kalamata olives


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