I work with clients a lot on simply getting dinner on the table most nights of the week. That ever looming question, “What’s for dinner?”, can create unneeded stress if we don’t have a plan in place. So, that’s what we work on, getting a system going for meal planning simple, tasty meals to take the stress and worry out of the equation.
One tip that I share often is to create theme nights throughout the week to make planning meals easier…because that’s the goal right? We want to make the process as easy and painless as possible. The idea is to have certain nights have a theme so it takes some of the thought out of figuring it all out.
I plan meals 3-4 days at a time making a list in the notes section of my phone. My list will look something like this (without the themes in parentheses):
- Sunday – Chicken Parm (Pasta night)
- Monday – Arizona Skillet (Meatless Monday)
- Tuesday – Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas (Taco Tuesday)
- Wednesday – Breakfast for Dinner
Then by Thursday we usually need some staple items and then I can plan for the next few days, Thursday through Saturday. It doesn’t work out perfectly like this every week, but I find that if I can stick to this way of planning, getting dinner on the table is just a simpler process.
Here are some examples of theme nights to choose from:
- Meatless Monday
- Pasta night
- Instant Pot night
- CrockPot/Make-Ahead night
- Taco Tuesday (my favorite!)
- Try-It Thursday (try a new recipe)
- Breakfast for Dinner
- One Pot/Pan Wednesday (the SkinnyTaste One and Done Cookbook is a great resource – all one pot/pan/dish meals)
- Kid’s Choice/Cook night (a great way to kids involved in the process)
- YOYO (You’re On Your Own) night (this might be leftovers or a sandwich with some veggies or a salad with some leftover chicken or other protein – also a great way to create autonomy for kids and other family members to create meals)
- Soup & Salad night
- Pizza night
- Frittata night
- Stir-Fry night
- Spaghetti night
- Asian Cuisine night
Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas
These are the enchiladas I mention above that we have been working into the rotation on Taco Tuesday to give us some variety from regular tacos, which we love, but variety is good too. I adapted this recipe from a site I love, Gimme Some Oven. My whole family loves this one and it has become a staple. I can get 9 enchiladas out of the mixture, so it makes quite a bit. It is even better for leftovers for lunch or another dinner later in the week. The enchilada sauce is REALLY yummy, way better than store bought, and so easy to put together. These aren’t super spicy, but the spice comes from the chili powder in the sauce and the green chiles in the enchiladas, so you can adjust those and use less if you don’t love things quite as spicy.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, peeled and diced (I use frozen chopped onions from Publix – one less thing to chop)
- 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled and shredded or diced into small 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 8-9 (8 inch)whole wheat tortillas
- 2 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
- 1 batch red enchilada sauce
- optional toppings: fresh cilantro, chopped red onions, diced avocado, chopped tomato, and/or sour cream,
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your enchilada sauce (see recipe below).
- In large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced chicken and green chiles, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the mixture for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add in the beans and stir until evenly combined. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line including: tortillas, enchilada sauce, chicken mixture, and cheese. Lay out a tortilla, and spread 1-2 tablespoons of sauce over the surface of the tortilla. Add a generous spoonful of the chicken mixture in a line down the center of the tortilla, then sprinkle with a little cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- Assemble the remaining enchiladas. Then spread any remaining sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas, followed by extra cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, until the enchiladas are cooked through and the tortillas are slightly crispy on the outside.
- Serve the enchiladas garnished with lots of toppings along with a side salad.
- Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3-4 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cups lower sodium chicken broth
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
Add this one to your regular rotation! I promise you won’t regret it. Enjoy!