Resolving to plan ahead

If one of your new year’s resolutions is to be healthier, to lose weight or to become more financially stable, meal planning can help. 

Resolving to plan ahead

Southwest Chicken Casserole

Serves 6 to 8
Southwest Chicken Casserole

Ingredients

4 cups cooked rice
1 ½ pounds chicken breast, seasoned, cooked and shredded
2 10-ounce cans cream of chicken soup
10-ounce can Rotel
1 ½ cups frozen corn
3 cups shredded Colby-jack cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the rice into an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, soup, Rotel, corn and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Spread the mixture over the rice. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. If desired, serve with tortilla chips.




Caprese Quinoa Casserole

Serves 4 to 6
Caprese Quinoa Casserole

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken broth (or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups water)
1 pound chicken breast, seasoned, cooked and diced
2 cups marinara sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
5 or 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. To a medium saucepan over medium- high heat, add the oil and the rinsed quinoa. Stir the quinoa to coat with the oil. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring every minute, until the quinoa starts to toast. Add the chicken broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, place a lid on the pan and turn heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes and turn off the burner. Allow the pot to stand with the lid on for 5 more minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, marinara sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and the tomatoes. Stir in the quinoa. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot. Garnish with the chopped basil before serving.




Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

Serves 6 to 8
Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (or substitute ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar (or substitute cider vinegar)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
½ cup cold water
1 ½ pounds chicken breast, seasoned, cooked and diced
4 cups cooked brown rice
24 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed 3 ½ cup cashews or peanuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and whisk into the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, rice and vegetables. Add the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with nuts before serving.



Meal Planning Tips

Here are a few tips to help you begin meal planning.

Tip #1

Compile a master list of your/your family’s favorite meals.

Tip #2

Decide how many days of the week you need to prepare meals. If you haven’t been in the habit of meal planning, start with one or two meals and build from there.

Tip #3

Assign meals to days. You may want to check store ads to see what’s on sale as you make your meal plan. Some people have a weekly recipe rotation; others do theme days like Italian and Mexican. Every couple weeks, try a new recipe to add to your rotation.

Tip #4

Make a shopping list. “Shop” first in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Then, head to the store.

Tip #5

Post the meal plan for your family to see it. 

Tip #6

Optional: prep ingredients for the week ahead. For example, with for the casserole recipes featured here, you could bake the chicken and cook the rice and quinoa ahead of time. Or even prepare the entire casserole, cover and refrigerate; then bake before eating. OKL Article End