Welcome to the Better Dinner Institute

Prepare to feed your family really good food.

Weeks 35 & 36 – Late-August to early-September

I love this meal plan! It’s making the most of late-summer’s vegetables, without being too much work for you, my cooking friend. Plus, if you pay attention as you follow the instructions, you’ll learn a shortcut or too.

REMINDER: Please remember to claim your reward when you have done some prep for the week (if if it’s just getting groceries and cooking a pot of soup or rice). The rewards are carefully selected and some of them are not just good for you but good for the world too. 

I think my own family’s dinners have greatly improved since I started offering this meal planning service to others. We eat a more nutritious diet – among other things because I am more mindful of including dark leafy greens almost everywhere… – and I test out family-friendly versions of fun recipes from the world over. Fun!


  • Using canned beans? Remember to always drain and rinse. If using home-cooked, you’ll need 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans for each can listed in the recipes. I soak beans every Friday night, cook them Saturday morning, and include them in my prep on Sunday.
  • Two spicy dishes are included in this meal plan: the rancho scramble (and subsequent burritos), and the shitake tofu (shiitake tofu only in the family plan). The former is admittedly inspired by Chipotle’s sofritas. The latter reflects my favorite Chinese buffet item: mapo tofu. Unlike most recipes you’ve found on the meal plan so far, it uses medium tofu. In that sense, it is truly a “traditional” tofu dish as opposed to a dish using tofu as a meat substitute. I hope you will like it! Let me know how it turns out.
  • Pick your spice: For both spicy recipes, I suggest using some sort of chili pepper… but I don’t want to send you on a fool’s errand to fancy grocery stores looking for a rare type of pepper! I am sure you already have some options in your pantry, so be creative. Use a lot of caution when adding the peppers if cooking for children, or consider dividing the batch. If you prefer not to use the chilis at all, make sure to increase the amounts of other seasonings in those dishes.
  • Beets are the stars of this meal plan. They are just fabulous at this time of year. If you think you don’t like them, it’s time to give them another chance. Make sure they are brushed very well to remove every speck of dirt. Roasting them in a single, covered oven-friendly dish will save you from using a ton of foil. The long cooking time ensures that those skins get nice and loose, super easy to just rub off (once the beets have cooled enough to handle with bare hands).
  • Speaking of beets, for those cooking from the family plan, I hope you find some really nice fresh ones that come with the green tops to use in the beet curry (week 36). I recommend cutting the tops off when you bring the beets home and storing them separately in the fridge, perhaps in a plastic bag with a paper towel or small rag to absorb extra moisture. Rinse them well before using, as they tend to be muddy. Can’t find beets with nice tops? Go for Swiss chard instead.
  • Stubbornly disliking beets? We can still be friends. Use carrots instead for both the soup and curry. Or orange sweet potatoes (or yams).

Questions? Worries? Get help.