5-Day Meal Plan: Meatballs and the best way to eat summer produce

My name is Allison Robicelli, and I am a chef, cookbook author, food writer, entrepreneur and mother of two crazy boys. Even though I’m a pro in the kitchen, when you’re a modern woman juggling career and kids, dinnertime can be hard, because I would rather repeatedly slam each of my fingers in a car door than have to cook. Seriously, smash them up good and busted so I can never make dinner again.

Fortunately my professional skills have given me an edge in creating meals that are not only healthy and affordable but also specifically designed for me to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible during the workweek. With some advance planning and clever kitchen hacks, you too can make dinners that look so good that everyone on Instagram will believe you have your life completely under control.

More: 5-Day Meal Plan: We have ways of making you love pork chops

This week’s menu

  • Mediterranean stuffed zucchini
  • Quinoa and white garlic bean cakes over mixed greens
  • Turkish meatball pitas
  • Cilantro-lime risotto with shrimp and sautéed vegetables
  • Tomato and red pepper gazpacho with herbed pita chips

Shopping list

Zucchini squashes are everywhere this month — in the grocery store, at the farmers market, on restaurant menus and probably in your refrigerator. This is a great time to take advantage, because not only are they delicious, low-calorie and healthy (vitamin A!), but at this time of year, when they’re at their peak, they are cheap as all get-out.

We’re also going to be using some ground beef this week, which is a workhorse and more affordable than other cuts of beef. In a perfect world, I’d be able to buy grass-fed beef every time I was in the mood for it, but I can rarely afford the cost of it in my weekly budget. At any rate, ground beef not only stretches but can be as cheap as $5 a pound at warehouse clubs or discount groceries like Aldi. I can use it a few days, then balance it out by making vegetarian dishes the rest of the week, which actually lets me finish the week under budget.

We’ve also got some shrimp this week, which is optional if you don’t like shellfish. Always buy frozen. Why is a long story you have no time to read right now, but trust me, frozen is always the way to go. If you stock up when the bags are on sale, you’ll always have a five-minute dinner on hand. Plus, a few go a long way and will make you feel super fancy — just the sort of thing you need on a Thursday night.


  • 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 dozen eggs


  • 7 medium zucchini
  • 8 of the best-looking tomatoes you can find (farmers markets are great for those this time of year)
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 clamshell mixed salad greens
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 small package fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley


  • 1 large container plain Greek yogurt
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 container Parmesan cheese


  • 1 pound quinoa
  • Arborio risotto rice
  • 1 large can white beans
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • White wine or light beer
  • 1 box low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large can tomato purée
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Oregano
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Sea salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


  • 2 packages pita bread

Keep reading for 5 recipes your family will love.



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