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5-Day Meal Plan: Early summer flavors in your bowl

Milagros is a writer, recipe editor, and recipe developer. Her passion for food began at a young age and her hunger to learn and grow has never simmered. She knows everything that she does about the industry from working with amazing ...

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls

After work, it’s always much easier to head inside a Chipotle Mexican Grill and grab a burrito bowl or head to Whole Foods and fill up a plastic container with salad, veggies and a protein. But I know for me, sometimes at the end of the meal, I’m still unsatisfied. There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal. And while it’s sometimes a pain to be in the kitchen when the weather gets warmer, we’ve simplified things for you.

More: A grain you may not know: Bulgur

Luckily for you, you can make five amazing meals for the entire week and use most of your ingredients more than once. In this week’s meal plan, you’ll have a summer bowl every night this week, filled with veggies, grains and fish — it’ll taste delicious, keep you satisfied and cost less than what you would spend on prepared food at Whole Foods in a week. I know you like the sound of that.

For this meal plan, we’ve decided to explore a few grains that might not normally land on your dinner table, like red rice and bulgur wheat. And we’re spicing things up with a little sumac. I know bulgur wheat, red rice and sumac may sound a tad bit intimidating, but they really don’t have to be.

Bulgur is a great grain to use if you want to try something a little different. The texture, when cooked, is very similar to quinoa, so sub out quinoa in recipes, and give bulgur wheat a try. Red rice is another unusual grain, but it cooks the same as brown or white rice would. You can find red rice blends that include white and brown rice in them, so you can start out with a blend if you don't want to dive right into the unfamiliar.

If you’re not feeling the sumac, we’re fine with that too. You can just omit it in the spinach bowl and use brown rice instead of red rice in the dishes that call for it — it’s that simple. You can add your own twists and spices to any of these recipes. My motto is simply, eat what you want to eat.

The goal of this meal plan is to eat healthier where and when you can as well as save money on dinner. With these five recipes, you’ll be doing just that.

More: Healthy eating habits for busy families

Meal plan for week of June 6

  • Baby spinach bowl with bulgur wheat and grilled chicken
  • Asian salmon bowl with baby spinach and red rice
  • Bulgur wheat-white bean bowl with cod and hummus
  • Grilled chicken hummus bowl with basil and radishes
  • Spring red rice bowl with radishes, asparagus and peas

Meal plan grocery list: 

  • Bulgur wheat
  • 2 vegetable stocks
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • Sumac
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 bulbs garlic
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans
  • 1 tomato
  • Watercress
  • 4 Alaskan cod fillets
  • Parsley
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages hummus
  • Spring green lettuce mix
  • Basil
  • Radishes
  • Red rice or red rice mix (mixture of red, white and brown rice)
  • Dijon mustard
  • 4 Alaskan salmon fillets
  • Cilantro
  • Soy sauce
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

If you’re making dinner for yourself, you can make one serving of red rice and one serving of bulgur wheat, and use it for multiple days — both reheat well. It’ll cut down on cooking time so you can do more of what you want to do — relax.

Baby spinach bowl with bulgur wheat and grilled chicken recipe

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls
Image: Milagros Cruz

If you're looking for a healthy and simple alternative to quinoa, try bulgur. It's similar in taste and texture. If you're not too familiar with it, this is the perfect recipe to try it out. This recipe includes sumac, which is a Middle Eastern spice that you also might not be familiar with. It's red in color but has lemon notes throughout. You could even season your chicken with a little sumac if you're feeling bold.

Serves 4

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 31 minutes | Total time: 33 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus more for garnish
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Rinse the bulgur wheat in a strainer.
  2. To a saucepan over high heat, add 5 minced garlic cloves and the rinsed grain.
  3. Toast the grain by stirring frequently until fragrant and the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Bring the bulgur wheat to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook on low for 15 minutes. Once the bulgur is done cooking, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff the bulgur wheat with a fork when you're ready to serve.
  7. While the bulgur wheat is cooking, make the chicken and baby spinach.
  8. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
  9. To a grill pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken breasts, and cook for about 4 minutes on each side until browned and cooked though. Set aside. Once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken on the bias.
  10. To a small sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the remaining minced garlic cloves and the baby spinach. Season with salt, pepper and sumac.
  11. Sauté until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  12. To assemble the bowl, add the bulgur wheat to the bottom of the bowl, and top with the baby spinach and sliced chicken.
  13. Garnish with lemon zest.

Asian salmon bowl with baby spinach and red rice recipe

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls
Image: Milagros Cruz

More: Cilantro-lime rice burrito bowls

Red rice is a little unusual, but it works perfectly with this Asian salmon bowl recipe. I used a rice mix filled with white, brown and red rice, but feel free to use plain red rice or another rice mix for this recipe. I think red rice adds texture you don't find in any other grain. Give it a try, I know you want to...

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 38 minutes | Total time: 43 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red rice or red rice mix (red, white and brown rice)
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 Alaskan salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the red rice in a strainer.
  3. To a saucepan over high heat, add 5 minced garlic cloves and the rinsed grain.
  4. Toast the grain by stirring frequently until fragrant and the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  6. Bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook on low for 15 minutes. Once the rice is done cooking, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork when you're ready to serve.
  8. While the rice is cooking, make the salmon and baby spinach.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add the salmon to a nonstick baking sheet, and pour the Dijon mixture over it.
  11. Bake the salmon for 10 minutes, until cooked through.
  12. To a small sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves and the baby spinach. Sauté the spinach for 2 – 3 minutes, until wilted.
  13. To assemble the bowl, add the red rice to the bottom, and top with the salmon fillet and spinach.

Bulgur wheat-white bean bowl with Alaskan cod and hummus recipe

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls
Image: Milagros Cruz

This is a super-simple recipe that can land on your table in under 35 minutes. You can use any white fish at the market. Cod and halibut work well for this recipe. Sear it on the stovetop, and serve it with a simple bean salad and bulgur. For this recipe I use watercress, but micrograins or raw baby spinach (if you have any left over) work as well. Take the ingredients you have on hand, and make your perfect Alaskan cod bowl.

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 29 minutes | Total time: 34 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 a tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced and zested, divided (plus more zest for garnish)
  • 4 Alaskan cod fillets
  • 4 ounces watercress
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the bulgur wheat in a strainer.
  2. To a saucepan over high heat, add 5 minced garlic cloves and the rinsed grain.
  3. Toast the grain by stirring frequently until fragrant and the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Bring the bulgur wheat to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook on low for 15 minutes. Once the bulgur is done cooking, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff the bulgur wheat with a fork when you're ready to serve.
  7. While the bulgur wheat is cooking, make the cod, and prep the beans.
  8. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans. In a bowl, combine the beans with the parsley and chopped tomatoes. Season the beans with salt, pepper, lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to combine, and set aside.
  9. Season the cod with salt, pepper, 1 minced garlic clove and lemon zest.
  10. To a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the cod fillets, and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned and cooked through.
  11. To assemble the bowl, add the bulgur wheat to the bottom of the bowl, and top with the cannellini beans, the cod and a dollop of hummus and the watercress. Garnish with lemon zest.

Grilled chicken hummus bowl with basil and radishes recipe

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls
Image: Milagros Cruz

More: The secret to dreamy, creamy hummus is your slow cooker

This recipe requires no grain at all, and you'll have dinner in your hands in 10 minutes tops. Season your chicken with salt, pepper and lemon zest, throw it on the grill, and assemble your salad. It's that easy. For this recipe I season my greens with salt, pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A lemon vinaigrette would also work really well for this dish. Your options are endless.

Serves 2

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 8 minutes | Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 cups spring green lettuce mix
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
  2. To a grill pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken breasts, and cook for about 4 minutes on each side until browned and cooked though. Set aside.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken on the bias.
  4. To a large bowl, add the spring green lettuce mix. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. To assemble the bowl, add the spring green lettuce mix to the bottom of the bowl, and top with the hummus, sliced radishes, basil and grilled chicken.

Spring red rice bowl with radishes, asparagus and peas recipe

You’ll feel satisfied after eating one of these grain- and veggie-filled bowls
Image: Milagros Cruz

For this recipe I went to the market and picked out my favorite summer veggies: radishes, asparagus and peas. You can do the same; make a batch of red rice (or bulgur or quinoa), and serve it with your favorite blanched veggies. You can customize this recipe any way you want. This is a super-healthy bowl that's filled with ingredients you want to eat.

Serves: 3 – 4

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Total time: 32 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red rice or red rice mix (red, white and brown rice)
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Rinse the red rice in a strainer.
  2. To a saucepan over high heat, add the garlic and the rinsed grain.
  3. Toast the grain by stirring frequently until fragrant and the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
  5. Bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook on low for 15 minutes. Once the rice is done cooking, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff the rice with a fork when you're ready to serve.
  7. While the rice is cooking, make the spring vegetables.
  8. To a pot of boiling salted water over high heat, add the asparagus and peas. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, until the veggies are tender and cooked through. Drain.
  9. To assemble the bowl, add the rice to the bottom of the bowl, and top with asparagus and peas. Garnish with chopped parsley and thinly sliced radishes.

More: 5-Day Meal Plan: Asian-inspired meals better than takeout

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