What’s For Dinner?

With food prices rising rapidly, working families are often mindful of their grocery budget and crunched for time during school days.

Check out some of these inexpensive, tried and true recipes from our Community Educator Juan Juan! This 5-day meal plan has an Asian flair and includes recipes and a shopping list. Built around the idea of convenience and simplicity, these recipes use unconventional spices to liven the meals. You can do most of the cooking in one day and then spend only 15 minutes on each meal during the week.

Assuming this is for a family of 4, with 2 adults and 2 children that are moderate eaters, the total cost of this meal plan should be about $60, or roughly $12 per dinner for 5 days.

Scroll to the bottom for images great for downloading/printing.

Grocery List: (price may change due to market conditions)

Costco Bulk Items:

  • 10 lb Bulk boneless skinless chicken breasts (at Costco for $25)
  • 5 lb bag frozen stir fry vegetables (at Costco for $8.49)
  • 2-loaf pack country French bread (at Costco for $6)

Grocery Store:

  • 2 lb angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti $2.50
  • 3-4 medium size yukon gold potatoes $2
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 bunch of cilantros $1
  • 2 medium or 1 large apple $1.50/lb
  • 1 bunch of celery $2
  • 1 12-oz frozen peas (or pea/carrot mix) $1.50
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions $1
  • 1 small bottle of sesame oil @$5
  • 1 can coconut milk $2
  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce or 1 bunch of spinach $2
  • 1 lb black-eye peas $1.50
  • 6 oz of walnuts or almonds $3.00
  • 4-6 eggs $2

From the Pantry:

  • Rice
  • Curry powder
  • Craisins or raisins

Meal Plan

Day 1: Curry chicken with mixed veg over rice (about 2 ½ chicken breasts). Served with bread.

Day 2: Cold noodles topped with BBQ chicken (about 2 chicken breasts). Served with steamed vegetables.

Day 3: Stir fry chicken/veg served with rice (about 2 ½ chicken breasts).

Day 4: Turmeric chicken salad with apple, walnut, celery (about 2 chicken breasts). Served with bread.

Day 5:  Vegetable fried rice with leftover chicken and frozen peas. Served with leftover frozen vegetables.

Start the Curry Chicken for tonight’s dinner and prep the following for the rest of the week while that simmers:

  • Cut up about 3 chicken breasts for tonight’s curry recipe and BBQ or sauté the rest and refrigerate for meals the rest of the week (seasoned with Salt and pepper to taste)
  • Make cold noodles
  • Toast about 1 ½ cups of nuts
  • Cook Rice (enough for 2 dinners, instructions below)

Curry Chicken Recipe

  • Dice 3 chicken breasts into bite sizes, and dice 3-4 potatoes in about 1-inch chunks
  • In a large pot, sate in medium heat ¼ of a large or ½ of a medium onion until softened but not brown
  • Add chicken breast and sauté until lightly brown
  • Add 1 generous tablespoon of curry powder (or more depending on your taste), stir thoroughly
  • Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of turmeric (optional), stir thoroughly
  • Add 1 can of coconut milk, 2 ½ cans of water (more if you like it thinner) Optional: substitute one can of water with one can of chicken broth
  • Stir well
  • Bring all to a boil, add potato
  • cover and simmer for 30 minutes or when potatoes are 2/3 cooked
  • Add 1 lb frozen veg, bring to a boil and simmer for another 10 mins
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Let sit for 15 minutes before serving
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with bread

Tips: you can substitute all or part of chicken with tofu if you are vegan or just want to reduce meat. You can also use any kind of meat or seafood for this. I used venison in the picture shown.

Cold Angel Hair Pasta Noodle Recipe

  • Boil 2 lb of Angel Hair pasta or thin spaghetti al dente, rinse with cold water and drain
  • Add 1/3 c sugar, 2-3 TBP soy sauce,1/3 cup and 1 TBSP olive oil, 1 tsp salt, ½ of 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper and handful of chopped cilantro
  • Toss thoroughly. Taste for the right taste of sweet/salty you are looking for while you mix. Add sugar/salt and olive oil as desired. (The amount of sugar/salt/oil listed here is ONLY a starting point, tweak according to personal taste)
  • Add several generous splashes of sesame oil
  • Serve immediately or chill overnight, add pre-cooked chicken (2 breasts) and serve with steamed vegetable

I created this recipe 28 years ago and it has always been a crowdpleaser. The star of the dish is the sesame oil!

How to Cook Rice without a Rice Cooker or Instant Pot

Using a rice cooker or instant pot is fast and clean. But if you don’t have either one of these, you can cook rice easily on your stove top as well.

  • Soak 1 ½ cups black-eye peas in warm water 30 min before cooking
  • Wash and rinse about 6 cups of rice (you are cooking for 2 dinners)
    • Tip: Use the water to water your houseplants. It’s nutritional!
  • In a large pot, combine black-eye peas and rice, add enough water so that the first joint (or knuckle) of your index finger is submerged in water from top of the rice
  • Bring to a gentle boil and give it a good thorough stir
  • Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until done (about 15 min)
    • I regularly mix beans or brown rice with my white rice. In this recipe, I am using black-eye peas to augment the protein and fiber of the meal.

Turmeric Apple walnut Chicken Salad Recipe:

  • Section out about 2 to 2 ½ pre-cooked chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
  • Add 1 ½ cup diced celery, 1 large, diced apple, (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious are great) 1 cup or more toasted nuts, ½ cup craisins
  • Add 2 tsp curry powder (optional), 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste, mix well
  • Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of yogurt (depending on how thick you like it)
  • Mix thoroughly and serve on a bed of Romaine lettuce or spinach, with bread.

Note: Neither Turmeric nor curry powder is essential to this delightful dish. But I use Turmeric whenever I can because of its health benefit. I use yogurt and a lot of toasted nuts to increase protein in this dish. It is a very versatile dish because you can easily tweak the amount of ingredients.

Stirfry Chicken with mixed vegetables

  • In a large pan, sauté ½ of an onion with 2 TBSP or ¼ cup of cooking oil until soft
  • Add about 2-3 pre-cooked sliced chicken breasts, stir
  • Add 1- 1 ½ lb of frozen mixed vegetables, cook until vegetables are cooked through
  • Add ½ cup or more of peanuts into mix if you want
  • Season with your favorite seasoning, soy sauce, or just salt/pepper
  • Serve over hot rice

Vegetable Egg Fried Rice with Chicken

Fried Rice is a clever way to make cold leftover rice palatable. Therefore, good cold left-over rice makes good fried rice. Freshly cooked or warm rice will not work as well.

  • Beat 4-6 eggs, add 2 tsp soy sauce to mix
  • In a medium pan, in medium heat, warm 1 TBSP cooking oil until slightly smoking
  • Spread egg mix and cook in medium heat until brown, turn to other side and repeat (like you are cooking a pancake)
  • Break up the egg “pancake” into small bite size and set aside
  • Dice ½ onion or 3-4 cloves garlic and brown in a large pan in ¼ cooking oil or coconut oil
  • Add 1 -2 diced celery stalks, stir
  • Fold in cold leftover rice (however much you have leftover)
  • Break up rice chunks thoroughly and stir
  • Add 1 pack frozen peas (or pea/carrot mix)
  • If you have any cooked chicken left and you haven’t been clucking or growing feathers by now, dice them and add them to rice
  • Stir and make sure all rice is cooked and hot to taste
  • Add 2 TBSP soy sauce and salt to taste and mix thoroughly
  • Serve with steamed left-over mixed vegetables

TIP: I like to use coconut oil for this because it perfumes the rice.

Download and save or print the recipe cards below so you can use them again in the future!