The Comfort Food Meal Plan You Need This Week
Make and freeze or make and bake, these comfort food recipes are meant to get you in the kitchen for some good old-fashioned fun. Soups, casseroles, and the cheesiest enchiladas you’ll ever eat are just right when you're at home for the long haul. Sometimes all we need is to pop a casserole dish in the oven or have a big pot of something simmering on the range to make things feel just right. So ditch the doldrums and pick a few of these recipes to whip up this week. We’ll be cooking right along with you!
Sunday: Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe: Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
This soup took us by storm last fall. It was one of our most popular recipes and, after I made it myself, I soon understood why. It’s pretty spicy, so feel free to cut back on the jalapeño or just make sure to cool things down with a hearty scoop of sour cream and a bit of diced avocado on top.
Soup Freezing Tip: Giant freezer bags to the rescue! I’m a huge fan of make-ahead soups that can be stored away in the freezer. I have a pull-out shelf in my unit that acts as the perfect spot for lining out my soup bags so that they freeze flat and neat. Once they're frozen through, I just stand them up and store one by one in the bottom of my freezer. Label with the recipe name and date.
Monday: Baked Mac and Cheese with Bacon
Recipe: Baked Mac and Cheese with Bacon
If you have children at home, this will be a winner. Get littles involved by letting them sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top at the very end. Bigger kids make excellent cheese graters.
Party of One (or Two!): Let’s bust out those Pryex dishes, because this makes a bunch—a whopping 10 servings. Make the recipe all the way through, then divvy up between a variety of baking dishes. Cover the ones that you’ll freeze with a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to baking.
Tuesday: Beefy Baked Ravioli with Spinach and Cheese
There’s something therapeutic to me about adding a bunch of ingredients to a skillet and letting it do its thing. Especially when the results are so dang tasty.
Shortage Swaps: One of our favorite Southern gals (and Test Kitchen pro) Ivy Odom developed this recipe. She suggests swapping chicken or turkey for the ground beef, and replacing the spinach with Swiss chard leaves, if that appeals—or is more readily available.
Wednesday: Buttermilk Alfredo Chicken Spinach Pasta
Total time: 20 minutes. I repeat, that's total time! We’re calling on a rotisserie chicken to do most of the heavy lifting here, but you can always bake up a couple chicken breasts if you prefer. Though it will increase that 20-minute cook time.
Social Distancing Activity: Call your sister, mom, or best friend and whip this up together via FaceTime. One of our staffers planned a cooking call with her mom last week. The trick is to make sure that the recipe is simple to follow so you actually have time to connect and visit, instead of poring over recipe instructions.
Thursday: Turkey Meatballs
Recipe: Turkey Meatballs
Meatballs are another one of my favorite make-ahead, fix-and-freeze meals. Again, I utilize the freezer bag strategy—freezing flat, then standing up at the bottom of my freezer. Storage bins help keep things upright and organized.
Shortage Swaps: In case you were distracted by the toilet paper situation and didn’t notice, ground meats were one of the first things to go when the stock-up frenzy took hold. If ground turkey isn’t available, you can swap in a variety of other meats to still make this recipe happen. A combination of ground beef and ground pork, or even just ground pork, will work as well.
Friday: Chili Cheese Enchiladas
Recipe: Chili Cheese Enchiladas
Oh, enchiladas, the cheesy wonderdish. Just before serving, top with onions, cilantro, avocado, sour cream—or whatever you have on hand.
Party of One (or Two!): This recipe isn’t ideal for cutting in half—and it’s so good, that you’ll want some at-the-ready anyway—so go ahead and make the full batch but freeze in two or three small dishes. I often use square disposable baking dishes when I’m cooking for just me and my husband so I don’t find myself with all my good casserole dishes stocked in the freezer.
Fix and Freeze: Complete the recipe through Step 3. Let the casserole cool completely, then cover the top with a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of foil.
Move to the refrigerator and thaw overnight when ready to eat. Pull from the fridge just before preheating the oven. Now you can pick up on Step 4, but with an adjusted cook time. Unfortunately, it will take a bit longer than the original 12 to 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked through when the enchiladas start to bubble and the cheese is fully melted. For a full batch, estimated cook time will be about 45 minutes. Give it 30 minutes if you cut the recipe in half—but, watch for those bubbles.
Saturday: Chicken-Bacon Ranch Casserole
Recipe: Chicken-Bacon Ranch Casserole
This is just about the finest type of comfort food out there. It makes 6 servings, so freeze half if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. I’ll be serving with a fresh spinach salad.
Social Distancing Activity: While the casserole bakes, sit on your porch and wave to the neighbors. If it’s nice outside, we guarantee at least a few will be doing the same thing—and it’s always nice to see a friendly face. Just be sure to tell them that team SL sends our very best. If your little ones (ideally the five-and-under set) are going a little stir crazy, give them a beach bucket and have them go on a hunt around the yard to find the best sticks and leaves. Works like a charm.