No matter what circle I’m in, what the latest headline was, or what occasion it is, the most common need from me, as a dietitian, is recipe ideas. We make thousands of decisions every day and for the average, non-food obsessed person, what to cook for dinner is an exhausting choice to make 7 days a week. I want to let you in on how I personally plan out my own meals which leads to low stress, delicious meals that align with my cravings. 

 

Step 1:  What ingredients do I have/ am I willing to go to the store?

This one is the deal-breaker for me. If it is 5:30 pm on a Tuesday I am not willing to go to the store for just a few items for a recipe. Start your plan by making a mental list of what proteins and vegetables you know you have. 

 

Step 2: How much time do I have?

The meals I make on Sunday tend to look different than the meals I cook on Wednesday. Realistically, it isn’t wise to plan a big elaborate meal if you know you want to eat in 30 minutes. Plan the longer meals on days that you have time!

 

Step 3: What are you craving?

Yes, deciding on the actual meal doesn’t even start until step 3. But, there is nothing worse than realizing you’re craving homemade pasta, but you only have 20 minutes and you’re out of flour. 

For the recipe below, I had a hunger for broccoli and cheese soup, but in casserole form. 

 

Step 4: How can I make that craving into something nourishing?

If the “craving” isn’t healthy, and let’s be real it usually isn’t, then think about simple ways to make your meal healthier. I added quinoa, lentils, and kale to my original idea to boost the  nutrition and cut the junk out of traditional broccoli and cheese soup. 

 

After step 4, you should have a plan for what you are making, what ingredients you need, and how long it will take. No more fretting over dinner decisions!

 

Broccoli & Cheese Lentil Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

 

Ingredients

 

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup kale or spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk

 

Instructions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Cook quinoa and lentils by combining the vegetable broth, quinoa, and lentils in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for about 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. 
  3. Roast broccoli by placing the broccoli on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, until lightly coated. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and starting to crisp.
  4. While the broccoli cooks, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic, breadcrumbs, oregano, and basil. 
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the pot of quinoa and lentils, and stir to combine. Set aside ¾ cup of the cheese for later, then add the rest of the cheese to the pot. Pour in the milk and stir until the cheese and milk are evenly incorporated in the quinoa and lentils. Stir in kale until slightly wilted.
  6. Pour the cheesy quinoa lentils into a 9-inch square baking dish and top with the roasted broccoli. Stir until the broccoli is evenly mixed in with the quinoa. Sprinkle the surface of the casserole with the reserved ¾ cup cheese, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the top is golden. 

 

Nutrition Information

  • 343 calories
  • 45 g carbohydrates
  • 17 g protein
  • 8 g fat