(Family Features) As you and your family embark on a mission to create delicious, nutritious meals all while saving money, it’s key to remember meal planning is essential for success. From tracking a list of ingredients you’ll need to noting your loved ones’ favorite foods, there are some easy steps you can take to make dinners at home enjoyable and budget friendly.
Getting on track with your own plan can start with these tips from Healthy Family Project’s Mission for Nutrition, which aims to help families find weekly meal success with an internationally inspired e-cookbook including grocery lists, recipe ideas and cooking hacks.
Work together. Before heading to the store or heating up the oven, sit down with your loved ones and make a list of easy-to-make recipes you all enjoy. Each time you discover a new favorite, add it to the list so you’ll have a reference guide when it’s time to plan a week’s worth of meals.
Stick to a schedule. Set a day and time each week your family can meet and plan out dinners. This also offers an opportunity to bring to light any newfound favorites or fresh ideas while bringing everyone to the same room for quality time together.
Plan time-saving processes. Think ahead while planning meals and consider the equipment you’ll need. Saving time while cooking can be as easy as sticking to recipes that call for hands-off appliances like a slow cooker or pressure cooker and using a food processor rather than a knife and cutting board.
Schedule a “leftovers night.” When you prep dinners that call for crossover ingredients, it’s easier to turn one meal into two. For example, buying sweet onions and chicken breast to make Chicken Apple Enchiladas means you’ll have those ingredients on hand for Greek Chicken Bowls later in the week.
Make a list. Once you’ve decided on recipes for the week, create a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. While you’re at the store, stick to your plan and avoid impulse buys to help stay on track while getting in and out quicker.
Find more recipes and meal planning tips by downloading the free e-cookbook at healthyfamilyproject.com/mission-for-nutrition and join the conversation by following #missionfornutrition on social media.
Chicken Apple Enchiladas
Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project's Mission for Nutrition
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 Envy or Jazz apple, diced
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 8 flour tortillas
- 6 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- cilantro (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In skillet, cook onions until translucent. Add jalapeno and apple; saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add cooked chicken and mix well. Remove from heat.
- Lay out tortillas and sprinkle cheese on each. Add chicken mixture and roll. Place in baking dish and cover with enchilada sauce.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until heated throughout.
Greek Chicken Bowls
Recipe courtesy of Healthy Family Project's Mission for Nutrition
- 1 cup cooked white or brown rice
- 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
- 1 RealSweet onion, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cucumber, cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup black olives
- 1 tablespoon feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons tzatziki sauce
- Place cooked rice and chicken in bowls.
- Top each bowl with sweet onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and black olives. Sprinkle each with feta cheese. Drizzle each with tzatziki sauce.
Source: Healthy Family Project
(Family Features) Eating the same thing every day can make lunch seem so “blah.” Now’s the perfect time to break out of the lunch rut and add some excitement to your meals.
Thinking outside the traditional lunchbox is easy with the right ingredients. Perk up your noontime noshing with fresh, seasonal ingredients coupled with kitchen pantry classics, like California Ripe Olives, which add a unique flavor and bold, distinctive color to any dish.
California farmers grow more than 95 percent of the ripe olives consumed in the United States. From planting, pruning, harvesting and processing, they make sure that the highest quality olives come from their farms to your table – one can at a time.
Adding olives to any lunch can help bring California sunshine to each and every bite. Try some of these portable and packable recipes to add excitement to lunch on-the-go and find more at calolive.org.
Greek Salad in Jars
Courtesy of Simply Recipes
Makes: 4 salads
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste (optional)
- pinch of black pepper, plus additional, to taste (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 pint-size canning jars with lids
- 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 large English cucumber, sliced
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup California black ripe olives
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- 4 small handfuls fresh baby spinach or other dark, leafy greens
- 4 pita bread rounds, halved (optional)
- To prepare dressing: In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano and honey.
- Gradually whisk in oil. Taste. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Divide dressing between four pint jars.
- To assemble salads: Divide onion between four jars. Divide tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olives and feta cheese between jars. Pack remaining space with spinach, compressing leaves slightly.
- Secure lids and refrigerate up to two days.
- To serve: Empty salads into bowls and toss with dressing. Serve with pita bread.
Note: Store and transport salads upright so dressing stays on bottom.
Smoked California Ripe Olives can produce a crave-worthy culinary surprise and become one of your favorite flavor discoveries. There are a few easy ways to make your own smoked olives, including preparing them on the grill with these quick steps:
- Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Drain well.
- Pierce a foil pan several times with a small, sharp knife and spread wood chips in a single layer in the pan. Set directly on hot coals or metal bars on a gas grill. Close the lid and set heat to high only under the pan of chips.
- When chips are smoking, place drained California Ripe Olives in a grill basket on grill with the burners off. Close the lid and smoke for 30 minutes.
Maple Olive Cheesecake Bites
Makes: 16-20 mini cheesecakes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped California Ripe Olives
- Heat oven to 325° F and coat 16-20-cup mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
- In small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1 tablespoon sugar. Place equal amounts into each mini muffin cup then press firmly into bottom of each cup. Working with one cup at a time, press small piece of plastic wrap onto surface and press crust firmly into mini muffin cups.
- In large bowl of electric mixer, beat cream cheese, maple syrup and remaining sugar until smooth; beat in flour and vanilla on low speed. Add egg and beat until just combined; stir in olives.
- Spoon equal amounts into each cup. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until filling feels set.
- Let cool completely then run small, thin knife around edge of each to remove from pan.
Black and White Pizza
Makes: 1 pizza
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for pizza crust
- 1 cup onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons roasted garlic, minced
- 4 ounces small baby bella mushrooms, chopped flour
- 1 package prepared pizza dough
- 1 cup prepared Alfredo sauce
- 1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 can (6 ounces) extra-large California Black Ripe Olives, drained and cut in wedges
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Heat oven to 450° F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes, or until onions are soft. Reserve.
- Roll pizza dough into thin oval on lightly floured surface. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil then spread evenly with Alfredo sauce.
- Top with mushroom mixture, cheeses, chicken and rosemary. Sprinkle olives over pizza.
- Bake 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned around edges.
- Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Source: California Olive Committee
Sun-Dried Tomato Salad Dressing
- 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained or rehydrate if dry
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons Kikkoman Rice Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Kikkoman Thai Style Chili Sauce
- 4 cups rotini pasta, cooked
- 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and seeded
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup green bell pepper strips
- 1 4-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 3.8-ounce can black olives, sliced and drained
- 3/4 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped dill weed
- For dressing, whisk together sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, capers, garlic and rice vinegar. Set aside.
- For salad, whisk together 1 cup salad dressing and chili sauce, set aside. In large bowl, combine pasta and remaining ingredients, tossing to combine. Serve with salad dressing.