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A Waste-Free, Hassle-Free Week

A Waste-Free, Hassle-Free Week

During the busy holiday season, making homemade meals can seem like something out of a dream. Who has time for that? But with a little help of a meal plan, take-out and fast food could be a thing of the past. We've put together a week of easy, no-stress meals to help you relax around meal-time and enjoy the season. 

Of course, all these recipes are just suggestions. Feel free to mix them up, change sauce flavors, or go vegetarian. 

First off, your grocery shopping list for the week: 

  • 3 jars of Monte Bene pasta sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • Chicken breast – 1 per each person in your family plus two extra
  • Pepperoni or Italian sausage (optional as pizza toppings)
  • Salad greens (mixed variety recommended)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans or 2 cans of green beans
  • 1 can refried black or pinto beans (or you can just get regular black or pinto beans)
  • 1 can white kidney or cannellini beans
  • Mushrooms or zucchini (optional as pizza toppings)
  • 8 oz. package of spaghetti
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1-2 pre-made pizza crust(s)
  • 1 16 oz. container of sour cream
  • 3 oz. container cherry tomatoes 
  • 2-4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups per pizza)
  • 2-4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (depending on your family size)
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salad dressing (or whatever you like to dress your salad with)
  • Fresh basil bunch

Day 1: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

The beginning of the week can be pretty hectic - trying to prepare for the next 5 days, wishing it was still the weekend. We understand. So with this recipe, take it easy. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Monte Bene Garlic Marinara pasta sauce
  • ½ lb ground beef or turkey
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation:

Warm your olive oil over medium heat and then add meat and onions. Cook thoroughly until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti al dente, drain, and toss with 1 cup Monte Bene pasta sauce to prevent the pasta from sticking. Add the remaining jar of Monte Bene pasta sauce to the meat and onions, and add salt and pepper to taste. Plate pasta and top with meat sauce. Add fresh basil and Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese as desired. Serve with your favorite salad.

Day 2: Taco Salad

Day one is done. Phew. Hope you enjoyed that taste of Italy! Now let’s venture elsewhere.

Ingredients:

  • Salad greens
  • ½ lb ground beef or turkey
  • Taco seasoning (chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion powder, salt, garlic powder)
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can refried black or pinto beans (or beans of your choosing)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 
  • Sour cream
  • Cheese
  • Salsa or hot sauce (recommended)

Preparation:

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan. Add onions and heat until just translucent. Add meat and cook until browned. Add taco seasoning. Add about 1/2 cup of water and cook until water evaporates and meat is completely coated. In a medium skillet, heat beans (5 to 10 minutes). Plate a bed of greens for each person, top with meat, beans, sour cream, cheese, and salsa/hot sauce as desired. If desired, serve with low sodium tortilla chips.

Day 3: Chicken and Veggies

You've used up all your beef. Time for some chicken. This dish gives you some room for creativity, but it is simple enough to accommodate that mid-week hustle and bustle.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 1 chicken breast for each person, plus 2 extra
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

You can add lemon juice, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, rosemary, or whatever seasoning is your favorite. This is your chance to style the meal to your own preferences.

Veggies:

  • ½ lb fresh green beans or 1 can green beans
  • Salt and pepper

Slice up ½ loaf of French bread to serve alongside.

Preparation:

You can bake or grill your chicken, whatever suits you. Just season up the breasts, add a little olive oil, and throw them in a casserole dish or on the grill.

Meanwhile, heat up your can of green beans or steam them. To steam, get a pot and fill it with about 1” of water and bring the water to a boil. If you have a steamer basket, place it above the water and steam the green beans in it for 1 ½ minutes. If you don’t, simply place the beans directly into the water for the same amount of time. Season with salt and pepper, and even a little butter, as desired.

Day 4: Chicken Soup

Now you get to throw a whole lot of stuff into a pot, which is just plain fun!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ jar Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • Leftover chicken, shredded
  • 1 can or ½ lb green beans
  • Leftover onion
  • 1 can white kidney or cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Fresh basil
  • Cheddar cheese

Serve with remaining half loaf of French bread.

Preparation:

In a large pot, add your jar of Monte Bene, can of broth, leftover chicken, green beans, leftover onion, and beans. Simmer at medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in cup of sour cream until well blended. Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh basil and cheese as desired.

Serve with bread.

(NOTE: If you want to make the bread a little more interesting, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder or minced garlic and broil for a couple of minutes until bread becomes crunchy.)

Day 5: Pizza

You made it to the end of the week! Now it’s time for something that is easy, fun, and a crowd-pleaser. 

Ingredients:

  • ½ jar Monte Bene Spicy Marinara pasta sauce
  • 1-2 pre-made pizza crust(s)
  • 2-4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Suggested additions: Mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage, zucchini

Preparation:

Spread Monte Bene pasta sauce on your pizza crust, then top with 2 cups mozzarella per pizza. Add Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese as desired. Add any additional toppings.

Follow instructions on pre-made pizza crust packaging (typically you’re going to bake the pizza at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes).

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