Genius Meal Planning Tips and Recipes


Genius Meal Planning Tips and Recipes

Thursday, September 26, 2019

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Scrolling through Instagram or flipping through TV channels you'll find a world of ideas on how to eat a different meal for each of the 365 days of the year. Why, then, are most of us cooking the same thing? Simple: information overload. Processing those ideas into actionable details on changing up your food life takes organisation, and time. Here are our best tips to make meal planning a key part of your life.


Create Your Own Cookbook

Save the recipes that inspire you all in one place. Create a file on your computer for everything from Thursday Food to Instagram and organise by type.



Check in with your family on the kinds of recipes they would like you to explore. It makes a world of difference when you are cooking something that you know they like.


Use a Calendar

Organise what you want to cook over a two-week span, eventually levelling up to a month of meals.


Theme It

Select a theme for each day of the week and then create variations on that inspiration. So Friday night is pasta night, for example: do pasta every which way you can. Saturday soup can be expanded to adding new ingredients to your standards, like this Pickled Chicken Neck Pumpkin Soup.


Make a Shopping List

Success in meal planning depends on how well you master grocery shopping. Be thorough in making a list, but be sure to first check your pantry so you don't end up buying things you already have. Make room on your list for the full suite of products from The Best Dressed Chicken, Hamilton's Smokehouse and Reggae Jammin' as these add flexibility and range to your meal planning.


Do Double Duty with Leftovers

Always think of the next day; today's Maple Roast Chicken can become chicken salad sandwiches tomorrow. Make sure you have good storage containers to manage your leftovers and eliminate waste.


Ready, set..

Prepare as much as you can. Chop seasonings and store in glass containers. Wash lettuce and store with layers of paper towel. Season your chicken and store in the refrigerator. Cook rice for reheating later. As much as you can, get the time-consuming details out of the way so when you are ready to cook it's smooth.


Ice, Ice, Baby

Use the freezer like never before. Cook double batches of soups and stews and freeze half for later use.


Now that you are armed with these key tips, incorporate these meals in your dinner rotation and get ready for the applause!


The Best Dressed Chicken Chilli


3 The Best Dressed Chicken Deboned Breasts, cut into thirds

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp ground cumin

5 c low-sodium chicken broth

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 c frozen corn

1/2 c sour cream

Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish

1/4 c shredded Monterey Jack

1/4 c crushed tortilla chips



In a large pot, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and jalapeño and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add chicken, and broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 12 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through.

Transfer chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Return to pot and add white beans and corn. Bring to a simmer and let cook, 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.

Ladle chilli into bowls and garnish with cilantro, cheese, and chips before serving.


Reggae Jammin' Jerk Chicken Sausage and Vegetables


12 Reggae Jammin' Jerk Chicken Sausages

3/4 cup guava jam

½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot

3 tablespoons water

3 garlic cloves, minced

Dash hot pepper sauce, optional

4 medium sweet red peppers

1 medium eggplant

3 small zucchini

2 small yellow summer squash



Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the jam, soy sauce, gingerroot, water and garlic in a blender; if desired, add pepper sauce. Cover and process until blended.

Cut peppers lengthwise in half; remove seeds. Cut eggplant lengthwise into ½-in thick slices. Cut zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into quarters. Place all vegetables in a large bowl; drizzle with ½ cup of the sauce and toss to coat.

Place vegetables on a greased grill rack. Roast in oven grill, covered, over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until tender and lightly charred, turning once. Cool slightly. Reduce grill temperature to medium-low heat

Place sausages on a baking sheet and into the oven for eight minutes. turning occasionally. Remove from oven; toss with remaining sauce. Serve with vegetables.


Hamilton's Smokehouse Smoked Sausage and Basil Pesto Pasta


1 lb sweet Hamilton's Smokehouse Smoked Sausage, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp fennel seeds

1 small red onion, sliced

1 lb penne pasta

2 tbsp basil pesto

1 cup pasta water



Heat water for the pasta in a large stockpot.

Heat up oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute. Brown it until it loses the raw red colour and starts browning, creating brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Toss in fennel seeds and sliced onion and sauté for several minutes until the onion turns translucent. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box.

Lower the heat on the skillet and let the sausage cook on low heat (stirring occasionally) until the pasta is ready.

Before draining the pasta, dip out 1-2 cups of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta.

Dissolve 1 tbsp of basil pesto in ½ cup of pasta water and slowly stir into the sausage mix. Stir well and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the skillet into the sauce. Add the remaining basil pesto to the skillet and combine well. Slowly pour in another ½ cup of pasta water and let the sauce thicken. Toss in the drained pasta and salt for taste. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water, if needed.

Sprinkle in cheese, basil leaves or fennel seeds and serve hot.


The Best Dressed Chicken with Maple Syrup


1 (3½-pound) The Best Dressed Chicken, whole

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 to 3 rosemary sprigs, plus 2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup



Heat the oven to 375° F. Pat the chicken dry and season it well with salt and pepper, both inside and out. Place the chicken breast-side up in a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet and stuff the rosemary sprigs into the bird's cavity.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the chopped rosemary and the maple syrup, and cook together until the rosemary is fragrant and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon all of the mixture over the chicken, making sure it is evenly covered.

Roast the chicken, basting with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the chicken is glossy and golden brown and registers 165°F with an instant thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste an additional time, if desired. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Whisk remaining juice and pass at the table.


The Best Dressed Chicken Thighs with Spinach and Carrots


2½ pounds The Best Dressed Chicken Thighs (6 or 7 thighs)

2 garlic cloves, finely grated or mashed to a paste

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

1½ teaspoons ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (6 or 7 thighs)

1 bunch scallions, trimmed

3 medium carrots (about 6 ounces)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2/3 cup chicken stock

½ cup good dry white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

5 ounces baby spinach

1 cup chopped fresh dill

Fresh lemon juice, for serving



Heat oven to 425° F and position a rack in the centre. In a small bowl, stir together garlic, salt, coriander and pepper. Rub all over chicken, then set aside to rest at room temperature while you prepare vegetables.

Thinly slice the scallions. Peel carrots, and cut into 1/2- inch pieces (about 1 cup).

Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high. When hot, add 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, place chicken skin-side down in skillet. Cook, without moving, until skin has browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken, skin-side up, to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-high and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, along with scallions, rosemary sprig and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened and lightly browned, 3 minutes, then stir in stock, wine and carrots. Bring liquid to a simmer. Cover pan and cook, five minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the chicken all over with the mustard. Nestle chicken into skillet skin-side up.

Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and transfer chicken to a plate.

If pan juices are watery, bring to a simmer over high heat and cook until thickened. Pluck out the rosemary sprig and discard. Stir spinach, dill and a pinch of salt into pan, tossing to coat with pan juices and wilt greens. Spoon spinach, carrots, and pan juices over the chicken, drizzle with lemon juice, and serve.


The Best Dressed Chicken Soup


1 lb The Best Dressed Chicken Pickled Neck

3 litres chicken stock or water

2 stalks corn broken in half (optional)

1 lb yellow yam, medium-diced

2 turnips, sliced

2 green Scotch bonnet peppers

1 tsp fresh ginger

4 bay leaves

½ tsp all spice powder

3 garlic cloves, mashed

2 lbs pumpkin, medium-diced, skin on

Dumpling dough (pre-kneaded)

6 sprigs thyme

2 stalks scallion, sliced diagonally

1 tbsp salt, to taste

1 packet Jamaican Chicken Noodle or Cock Soup Mix

½ lb carrots, sliced diagonally

3 stalks celery, diced (optional)

½ lb cho cho/christophine, cut up into 1-cm pieces



Place pickled chicken neck, chicken stock, corn, turnips, Scotch bonnet, yam, garlic, ginger, allspice, bay leaves, chicken soup mix, and turnips to pot and bring to a boil.

Boil for 20 minutes until pumpkin is cooked.

Remove all the pumpkin, turnip and ginger from the pot along with enough of the stock to cover them and blend until completely smooth.

Pour back puree mixture into pot.

Add carrots, cho-cho, celery and the other ingredients to the pot.

Add dumplings or “spinners”.

Simmer for ½ hour until the vegetables in the soup are al dente (soft but not mushy), the dumplings are floating, and the soup is reduced a little to a velvety consistency.

Add salt to taste, if necessary.

Serve while hot!

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