Welcome to the Better Dinner Institute

Prepare to feed your family really good food.

Is Spring here yet?

This is the time of year when “seasonal veggies” doesn’t mean much in the Northern Hemisphere. Leftover onions, carrots, potatoes and squashes from last Fall’s harvest are what it is. Well, let’s make the most of it! If you are graced with some local greens such as sturdy kale and colorful swiss chard, they’ll find their way nicely into this meal plan. (If you can’t find those locally, hopefully you have a well-stocked grocery store nearby.)

NOTES

  • The quality and flavor of your chili powder will make the difference between “OK” dinners and “WOW!” dishes in this meal plan. If you can find a nice, smoky chipotle powder, that’s amazing. I personally used some dried morita chilis that I ground into a fine powder. Whatever you do, make sure to test it before adding to the dish!! Some are mighty hot, others are very mild or even bland.
  • Just a reminder that beans and chickpeas should always be drained and rinsed if using canned… unless the recipe specifies otherwise, as is the case for this plan’s black bean soup. (Keep one of the two cans’ liquid.) If you like to cook your beans from scratch, remember that 1 can = 1 1/2 cups cooked beans/chickpeas.
  • If you do not have a food processor, you can mix the burgers by hand… but some people find that too chunky. If that bothers you, replace half of the brown rice (or rolled oats for the mini plan) with oat flour, or breadcrumbs.
  • Family plan only: I am wandering in the wonderful land of BISCUITS… on a weeknight! Sadly, biscuits are not exactly a make-ahead item. If you do not have the time, just enjoy the Chickpea pot with brown rice (make extra!) and call it the day. Or with a big green salad. Or, if you have phyllo pastry in the freezer, take it out in the morning; at dinner time, cut a couple dozen strips from it. Toss them in a tablespoon of oil and spread on top of your pot before placing in the oven. (That’s Isa Chandra’s technique in Isa Does It. Delish!) Or just make the biscuits! It takes 10 minutes, really. (Maybe 12 if you need extra time to wipe off the extra flour.) There isn’t a fat-free option for the biscuits, sorry.
  • Mini plan: I highly recommend just prepping everything (except the sweet potato fries) in one big prep session. There is a lot of overlap between the ingredients so I doubt it will take you more than 3 hours in total, including cleaning up. Then you can freeze part of the meals (except the quinoa salad) for the second week. What do you think?

Questions? Worries? Get help.