January Meal Plan: Week 1 - Skillful Cook
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January Meal Plan: Week 1

Make this magical list of yum happen! Let's make three sauces, two veg preps, and a snack to set you up for the week. Check out the first week of meal planning!

January Meal Plan collage with four images part of the meal plan for week 1

Okay, here we are! It's 2022. 🎉 New Year, new...365 days of trying to decide what to make for dinner. Listen, hard same, and also we've got you, we've got you. This week's 3-2-1 meal plan keeps things easy and delicious which, oof, after these last couple years we would like to dub the theme for this new year.

As promised with these meal plans, to make this magical list of yum happening, we're going to do three sauces, two veg preps, and one snack to get you set up for the week. That way when dinnertime rolls around, you can roll your sleeves up and tackle it head-on, without too many sighs or rolling around on the floor crying (you know, in your head. Or maybe literally...depends on where this new year is finding you lol.).

So take some time this weekend and get some things prepped to help make life a little smoother, to save your brain and your time and your patience. And then let's eat the heck out of some nutritious, delicious, joy-giving food all week long.

Recipes This Week


Meal 1: Smoky Beans & Greens Tacos with Aji Verde

Smoky black beans simmered up with loads of kale and enchilada sauce, tucked into charred corn tortillas with some crunchy fresh corn in there for brightness. But also let us please warn you that we are pouring an extreme amount of spicy, herby aji verde (a Peruvian green sauce) all over these. It’s all just so wonderful. Plus, how fun is it to say “Beans & Greens”?! So fun. So good.

Make it little-kid friendly! Make sure to use a mild enchilada sauce and skip putting the Aji Verde sauce on their plate.

Red pepper pasta in a bowl

Meal 2: Creamy Red Pepper Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

Classic vegan sorcery coming your way — this roasted red pepper sauce is so creamy without one single drip-drop of cream. Toss it with some perfectly chewy pasta and crown it with some sweet blistery tomatoes and a handful of fresh herbs. It’s such a breeze to come together, it is likely to become your new favorite weeknight staple

Plantain and pinto stew over rice on a plate

Meal 3: Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde

This stew is such a stunner and is so simple to put together that you think you must be doing it wrong. But you’re not! Super cozy and a highly delicious all-veg stew coming ‘atcha. It’s full of peppers and kale and warm smoky spices, there’s some pinto beans to fill it out, and then surprising little chunks of plantains! If you’re not familiar with the vegetable, they are an amazing starchy little banana cousin that bring an unexpected, slightly sweet bit of creaminess in each bite. And you better believe that deliciously spicy aji verde is coming back. Cuz you've got it prepped! Start pouring.

Make it little-kid friendly! Skip the Aji Verde sauce for little kiddos.

Cookie Dough Energy Bites stacked.

Snack / Breakfast: Cookie Dough Energy Bites

Easy breakfast and ready-grab snacks — and not thinking too hard about it either — is where. we're. at. So these lil' energy bites are our very best friend. Like, wholesome, slightly sweet, super satisfying, and very keep-in-the-fridge/ready-whenever-you-need-them best friends. With hints of honey and a subtle chocolatey crunch, they are so simple to throw together are ready to boost you all week long!

Green salad in a bowl with dressing on the side.

Vegetable / Side: Simple Green Salad

Veg course this week is the simplest green salad that will take under a minute and get your taste buds dancing. The dressing is an easy jar shake away, with hints of maple and deep balsamic flavor. Drizzle that on some tender fresh spring greens and you've got yourself a win. Also super flexible to be dressed up with cheese, nuts, dried fruit, and/or a protein, and also it goes with everything. Dinner, lunch, brunch — get this girl on your plate.

Sign Up To Receive Our Full Meal Prep Guide

So yes, now you have a list of links that gives you what you need to make a seriously delicious week of meals.

But we took it a step further than just a list of links.

We have a full grocery list and meal prep guide for you!

Meal plan guide and grocery list

This series includes FREE printable meal plans for every week that not only include what you need to make these delicious meals, but how to make them happen in an easy, fun, and efficient way through the meal planning system I've used and loved. It's real-life tested and real-life approved.

Here's what's included:

  • A meal plan with the selected recipes for the week;
  • A full grocery list;
  • A prep guide that outlines a 60 to 90 minute blitz for prepping your meals for the week. THIS TOOL IS CRITICAL and this is what differentiates this resource from just a list of recipe links. I already did the work to pull out the steps that work well to prep ahead, and I made them into a really nice and easy guide for you.

All you have to do is sign up below to get started.

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    Happy Cooking!

    Let's ease into this new year, yes? Let's have it meet us where we're at, still moving through the world with joyful caution. Keep taking care of each other and taking care of yourselves and if just a small part of that is making food prep and planning easier for the week, we're so happy to be able to help.

    Alrighty 2022, we're one week in. Let's do this.

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    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Excited to start meal planning this year! Q: What size family is the meal plan intended for? I’m cooking for just me and my husband so I’m not sure if I should scale down the grocery list so we don’t waste any food?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi! Most recipes are 4-6 servings, so if you’re not a leftovers fan, you can definitely scale down!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you for this meal plan! I’m excited to try these recipes and already have ideas about some toppings and extras to add. I was a little surprised to only see three meals, though. I usually cook at least 4-5 night’s a week, sometimes 6. Do you have suggestions about filling in the other mains? Thanks again!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I meal prep for six meals a week for two people and I am always looking for new ideas. I agree with you, I was disappointed with all the lead up the past few weeks about weekly meal plans being posted this month to only see three main meals.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Lindsay picked this setup because it’s what has worked for her family, so they’re not throwing out leftovers. Plus, it leaves room for dining out, takeout, or a quick freezer meal throughout the week. Thanks for the feedback!

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        You’re welcome! Lindsay wanted to leave room in the week for dining out, takeout, or a quick frozen meal. If you’d like to fill in with other recipes, here’s a link to all of Skillful Cook’s dinner reipces.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Thank you! I think this is more of a new way to prep for the week’s cooking, a new process, than a meal plan itself. But I like the idea of making sauces ahead of time. It’s true that sometimes I skip recipes that require an extra sauce, when actually the main recipe itself is easy. I’ve never thought to prep those far in advance. I’m inspired to try something new! Thanks!

      3. Skillful Cook Logo

        The freezer meal guide on Skillful Cook might be a good one for those other meals!

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      It would be nice to find recipes for one or two people who are watching their diet.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        There are only 3 main meal recipes for each meal plan and none of the meals are huge, so you could make them as is and plan on having leftovers or freezing the rest as most of the recipes are freezer friendly. You could also halve the recipes!

    4. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you so much for putting this all together! Three meals is perfect and I can fill out the other meals as needed. It’s an amazing free resource and I’ve always loved all your recipes. So excited to try this out!

    5. Skillful Cook Logo

      I love when people offer meal plans as I love new ideas. Sadly, though, there are rare and deadly food allergies in my household which make most meals on offer no good to us. I’m talking tomatoes, vinegar, and beetroot. Can no one offer substitutions to these? Thank you.

    6. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for this meal plan! My husband and I are both vegetarian, so these recipes are perfect for us. Also, it looks like all three of these recipes would feed the two of us for two nights each. So that covers 6 nights of the week, with one night for leftovers or ordering in. That’s exactly how I do my meal planning normally, so I’m excited to try out your plans during January. Thanks for making this easily available. And thanks for the prep-ahead notes!

    7. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi, I signed up the weekly plan for January but after confirming my subscription, I haven’t received anything further. How can I access the plan from the first week?

    8. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you SO much for doing a plant-based list! As a vegetarian family, it has been hard to find meal plans like this. Thank you! My family will appreciate it.

    9. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yummy! Glad these are all plant-based! I’ve made the plantain and pinto stew below and it was delish! Looking forward to trying out the rest this week.

    10. Skillful Cook Logo

      Love the idea of this and having 3 meals done for the week will be great, just need to fill in the other 3-4 nights. We are cutting back on our eating out. Will future plans include meat?

    11. Skillful Cook Logo

      Def using these! Me and my youngest are vegetarian, while my husband and oldest are meat lovers. These are perfect because I can just cook up some meat separately for them to add!

    12. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi there,

      These recipes look great – looking forward to trying them!

      Just wanted to ask about the best way to store the plantain in the fridge once it’s chopped and peeled? Will it go brown if not used immediately?

      I was also a bit confused about how long the meal plan is for. I’m reassured to see from the other comments that it’s not just me! Is it just for weekdays? The only reason I ask is because the sauce instructions say that the sauces both keep for 4 days only. I was hoping to use the recipes for the whole week (feeding 2 people so using the recipe leftovers throughout the week). I guess I should make one batch of the sauces on Sunday and another on Wednesday if they only keep or 4 days?

      Many thanks and I look forward to the coming weeks!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi Chris! You can store the chopped plantain in the fridge. It might get a bit dried out, but it shouldn’t go brown. The meal plan setup is generally designed to give you 3 solid weeknight meals with room for eating out/takeout, a quick/easy freezer meal, or a longer cooked meal on the weekend. Ideally, you’d want to make the recipes using the sauces at the beginning of the week, especially those with the mayo-based sauces since they tend to lose their flavor/texture as the week goes on. But, the balsamic dressing and other soy sauce-based sauces in upcoming meal plans should be good to go for a bit longer than 4 days. Thanks so much for the questions!

    13. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m excited to try these recipes. Should I double the Aji Verde sauce since it’s used in 2 recipes or just reserve some?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I hope this isn’t too late for you, but you only need one batch of the sauce… It makes a LOT and we are big spice fans so probably dump more on than most folks will.

    14. Skillful Cook Logo

      Love the whole first week- I have a severe nut allergy, what could I use in place of the cashews for the red pepper sauce? Thank you so much!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi Elizabeth! You could try heavy cream, sour cream, or coconut milk. White beans may also work!

    15. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi! Can you suggest what meats would go well with each dish (chicken in the tacos? Beef in the pasta? What do you think?)?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Chicken, beef, pork, or chorizo would be great options for the tacos and plantain stew. Chicken, Italian sausage, pork, or beef would be great in the pasta. There are so many good protein options!

    16. Skillful Cook Logo

      I so appreciate what you guys are doing with trying to simplify meals and offer plant-based options! BUT…3 meals for the whole week? And Meal 1 and 3 are both beans with aji verde sauce? Those of us feeding teens (aka adults) need a lot more food and variety in flavor profiles.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi Nicola! Thanks for the feedback! Lindsay picked this setup because it’s what has worked for her family, so they’re not throwing out leftovers. Plus, it leaves room for dining out, takeout, or a quick freezer meal throughout the week.

    17. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you soooo much for this. Your blog is my top source for recipes because they literally never turn out bad. Thanks for your hard work!

    18. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you for taking the time to put this together. Such a great resource to have the shopping list and “make-ahead” parts spelled out.

    19. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’ve done the prep and am looking forward to executing the meals this week. Your approach with sending everything like you have it on Friday and spending the weekend shopping/prepping works well for me. I actually have a meal prep cookbook which has great recipes but I haven’t been able to get organized with the prep. This may help me figure that out in the long run.

    20. Skillful Cook Logo

      I signed up for the meal plan but I did not receive week 1 yet. Is it possible for it to be emailed again?

    21. Skillful Cook Logo

      Just finished the first meal of the plan after a long work day with low motivation to cook anything. We’re now full meal prep converts! We LOVED the tacos and it took less than 15 minutes to get dinner on the table. Please continue with these plans past January! My family would happily pay for an ongoing meal prep plan such as this!! Thank you POY!!

    22. Skillful Cook Logo

      Can the aji verde sauce be frozen? It’s delicious but the recipe made WAY more than we need for this week.

      Made to tacos today and they were so flavorful!!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi! We haven’t tried freezing, but it may work. There could be separation once it defrosts, so you’d want to give it a good stir!