Meal Planning Tool Kit Series: What's For Dinner?

July 31, 2020

Mix & Match Meal Options

Spinach Pesto Pasta image

Dinner is up first, here are some ways to keep your sanity in the kitchen/dorm, when thinking about making meals that are easy and satisfying!!


Dinner Meal Planning Tips: 

Plan at least 2-3 dinners per week, then expand on that.  Create a rotation of different cuisines you like; Italian, Asian, French, South American, Indian, Mediterranean or Fish/Seafood, Poultry, Beef, Pork, Vegetarian. 


Pick one item from each category, add herbs, spices or a sauce and voila, you have a meal! 

Grain Protein Vegetable
Rice (brown, wild, white) Poultry (chicken, turkey, ground chicken or turkey)

Green beans

Pasta (whole wheat, white, rice, quinoa, edamame, spaghetti squash etc) Pork Chops, Pork tenderloin Asparagus
Potato (Sweet potato, white, purple, red) Beef (steak, ground) Broccoli
Barley Fish or Shellfish Cauliflower
Quinoa Lamb Summer Squash/Zucchini 
Bulgar Nuts, seeds, nut butter Mushrooms
Squash (Acorn, Butternut) Beans (pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo, hummus etc) Greens (kale, collard, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, cabbage)
Corn Tofu Sugar snap peas, Snow Peas
Peas Seitan Tomatoes
Bread/Rolls Meat substitute Carrots

PRO TIP: Roasting Veggies 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degree oven 

  1. Place veggie on sheet pan lined with parchment paper 

  1. Drizzle with oil of choice and seasoning (or just salt and pepper) 

  1. Roast for 15-20 minutes depending on the veggie (potatoes take longer than broccoli)  

  1. Make sure items are close in size so they cook evenly  


Herb and Spice Combinations for different types of cuisine: 

Italian:  Garlic, onion, basil oregano 

Asian:  Ginger, five spice, garlic, scallions 

French:  Tarragon, mustard, chive, chervil, shallot 

South American:  chili peppers, lime juice, garlic, cilantro 

Indian:  Ground nutmeg, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, curry 

Mediterranean: Oregano, thyme, pepper, coriander, onion, garlic 


Sauces and Flavoring Agents: 

  • Balsamic Vinegar 

  • Cilantro and lime juice 

  • Flavored Oils: olive, sesame seed    

  • Salad Dressings: ranch, green goddess 

  • Tzatziki sauce 

  • Marinara sauce

  • Jarred Pesto 

  • Hummus  

    • Hummus sauce idea: 2 tablespoons hummus mixed with juice from ½ a lemon and a little water until smooth 

  • Rubs & Marinades: bbq sauce, teriyaki sauce 

  • Salsas: Chunky mixtures of vegetables and/or fruits and flavor ingredients 

  • Relishes: pickled items like pickled onions, ginger or veggies            


Some Examples:  

Rice + shredded chicken (store bought rotisserie) + roasted cauliflower + green goddess dressing 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes + canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained) + roasted broccoli + Hummus Sauce (see above) 

Cooked pasta noodles + beef slices + mushrooms and bell pepper slices + teriyaki sauce 

Whole grain cooked pasta + canned white beans (drained) + Spinach + Pesto Sauce


This is another example of what we like to call component cooking.  Got some ideas of your own or questions? We would love to hear from you!! Email us at to submit your questions or share what works for you!!!