Week of Healthy Meal Prep: September 17-21
Monday: Slow-Simmered Meat Sauce
Here's a way to get all-day-simmered flavor in a meat sauce that cooks hands-free (and therefore stress-free). We like the combination of hot Italian sausage and ground sirloin: The sausage lends richness to the sauce, while the sirloin keeps it lean overall. If you'd rather, you can use all ground sirloin—just bump up the herbs and red pepper as needed to replace the flavor the sausage would add. The mafaldine pasta called for is a flat noodle with ruffled edges, like little lasagna noodles; the shape is perfect for catching all the luscious sauce in its nooks and crannies. You can substitute whatever pasta you like for the mafaldine—anything from spaghetti to rotini.
Tuesday: Pizza with Olives, Aleppo Pepper, and Fresh Mozzarella
Less assertive and more nuanced than red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper makes a terrific pizza seasoning—a little spicy and a little fruity to complement the tangy sauce and rich cheese. Find it at spice stores, gourmet grocers, or Middle Eastern markets. A sprinkle of briny kalamata olives adds a touch of umami.
Wednesday: Cheesy Polenta Skillet
Thanks to its firm consistency, precooked polenta (usually sold in tube form) can be seared, toasted, or even layered and baked like a lasagna. We keep the slices on the thick side so they have a creamy texture when heated through. To make this week's meal even faster, use leftover meat sauce from Monday's dinner over polenta and bake as directed.
Thursday: Greek Spaghetti Squash Toss
Bounce back from a weekend of rich food with this vegetable-heavy dinner. Spaghetti squash is a great lower-calorie, lower-carb alternative to pasta. It’s a neutral tasting veggie that absorbs all the flavors of this simple skillet, so be sure to toss well to coat every strand. The end result is a veggie-based meal in a bowl that you can quickly throw together—a nice alternative to salads when you want to fill up on vegetables.
Friday: Kale, Apple, and Almond Chicken Salad
Let kale become you all-purpose green. It’s tender enough for salad and sturdy enough for wilting and blending, with zero prep. Crisp, sweet-tart apple varieties (Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady) add freshness and crunch—or a juicy, sweet contrast to seared or roasted meats. Vastly underrated skinless, boneless thighs are rich and moist, perfect for stewing, grilling, or searing. Herb, lemon, and garlic vinaigrette doubles as the marinade for the chicken. This is the salad you are going to want to eat every day.
Treat Yourself: Salted Caramel Apple Pie
A quick homemade caramel sauce that’s folded into fresh apple slices and baked in a whole-grain crust takes this classic holiday pie to the next level. A hint of salt in the sauce intensifies the apple flavor and balances the sweetness. Apples contain a natural thickener called pectin; grating some of the fruit will ensure a gooey, cohesive mixture once baked. Crisp, sweet Fuji apples bake beautifully and will contrast the salty caramel. You can also use Cripps Pink or Honeycrisp apples.