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April Weeknight Meal Plan and Shopping Guide

April Weeknight Meal Plan and Shopping Guide

The recipe and photography for this post was provided by Carolyn Hodges of The Dinner Shift.

As the spring season brings us the long-anticipated warmer weather we’ve been craving, no one wants to stand in the kitchen planning a week’s worth of meals! Thanks to this deliciously simple weeknight meal plan from Carolyn Hodges, dinner time meal prep is done for you. From recipes and shopping lists to tips for making the most of your leftovers, spring dinners are easier than ever!

Dinner 1: Slow Cooker Masala Lentil Dal + Rice


  • 1 cup Brown Lentils, dried
  • 1 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 13.5 oz can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp Garam Massala
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Naan or Rice


  1. Combine all ingredients except cilantro (lentils through vegetable stock) in a 3 to 4 quart slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Remove lid and stir well.
  3. Season to taste, then stir in chopped cilantro.
  4. Serve atop cooked rice or alongside toasted naan.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Slow Cooker Masala Lentil Dal + Rice.

Dinner 2: Greek Chicken and Green Bean Skillet


  • 2 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts (about 6)
  • Dried Oregano
  • Paprika
  • 3-4 tsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium Onion, sliced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes with juice
  • 1 lb Green Beans, trimmed
  • Roasted Potatoes, Rice or Pita Bread
  • Feta Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Season chicken breasts on each side with a liberal sprinkle of dried oregano and paprika, followed by salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large skillet or dutch oven (with lid), heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers (you want it hot so the chicken sears and doesn’t stick), add chicken breasts in a single layer.
  3. Sear on one side (without moving) for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove chicken from pan (it is not fully cooked through) and set aside.
  5. To the pan, add the remaining 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
  6. Deglaze pan with chicken stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits.
  7. Add tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer.
  8. Fold in green beans, return chicken to pan nestling in with the beans. Cover up and continue to simmer over medium-low for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  9. Serve with roasted potatoes, rice, or pita bread with plenty of feta cheese.

Meal Prep Tips:

  • Wash and trim the green beans up to 4 days in advance. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container or zip top bag with a paper towel  to retain moisture.
  • Slice the onion up to 4 days in advance. Keep refrigerated, tightly covered.
  • If serving with rice, steam a batch up to 4 days in advance.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Greek Chicken and Green Bean Skillet.

Dinner 3: Easy Sloppy Joes + Salad or Fruit


  • 1 lb lean Ground Sirloin
  • 3/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce, no sugar added
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 Ground Cinnamon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Whole Grain Hamburger Buns


  1. In a large skillet, brown meat over medium heat, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine tomato sauce through cinnamon and mix well. Stir into beef mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve on buns.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Sloppy Joes.

Meal Prep Tips:

  • This meal comes together in 20 minutes when you prep the ingredients in advance. Chop the onions, peppers, garlic and prepare the sauce up to 3 days ahead of when you plan to cook.
  • To serve, keep things simple by pairing this with steamed broccoli, green beans or a salad. Roasted sweet potato fries would partner well, too!

Repurposing Leftovers: Loaded Sweet Potatoes or Greek Salads

Option 1: Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Split open baked sweet potatoes (warmed, if prepped ahead) and top with leftover Lentil Dal or Sloppy Joe filling.

Option 2: Greek Salads

Dice leftover chicken from Dinner 2 (leave it cold) and toss it into Greek-style salads along with fresh romaine, tomatoes, red onion, Kalamata olives and feta cheese.

Back-up Recipe: Mixed Bean Tacos


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 2 15 oz cans any variety of Beans, drained and rinsed
  • Flour or Corn Tortillas
  • Toppings of your choice (I used avocado, green onions, tomatoes and shredded cheese.)


1. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook 5-8 minutes or until very soft and translucent. Stir in garlic and spices and cook for 1 minute.
3. Stir in beans and 1/2 cup water and bring mixture to a simmer. Smash half of the beans using the back  of wooden spoon or potato masher. Continue to simmer until mixture is thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve with warmed tortillas and toppings.

Click Here to Print the Recipe for Mixed Bean Tacos.


Click Here to Print the Complete Weeknight Dinner Plan and Shopping List.

Carolyn Hodges

By Carolyn Hodges

Carolyn is a mom of boys and culinary dietitian in Cleveland, Ohio. The Dinner Shift is dedicated to helping busy moms get dinner on the table after the weekday grind, however that is defined for you and yours.

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