One Green Thing Series: Reduce Food Waste and Save Money With This Meal Plan

April 18, 2016 | By | Comments (4)

Cooking Light editors are counting down to Earth Day with simple and effective ways they’ve eliminated waste and cut back on resource usage. In this series, each editor will talk about One Green Thing they’ve done in their own home, office, or general life to hopefully make our planet just a little bit healthier.

Food waste is an increasingly complicated problem for our world. If you need a quick recap of where the world stands with food waste, tune in to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Food Waste. Then, see our tips on how to reduce food waste in your home.

It’s shocking and frankly overwhelming. While we certainly cannot change the situation overnight, we can each make a small change in our daily lives that will have a greater impact in the long run.

My change: Throw no perishables away. This can be tough if you just go to the grocery store and shop based on what you’re craving, but if you go in with a plan, it’s really quite easy. Follow along for a lunch shopping and meal plan that feeds two all week.

The Plan:

Lunch 1: Inspired by Chicken Gyro Bowls
My husband is a fan of chicken thighs, so I used thighs instead of breasts in this recipe and added regular red onions instead of the pickled onions. I also stretched this recipe out into five lunches by adding a little bit more chicken and chickpeas. 

1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup baby kale, chopped
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
Cooking spray
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
12 kalamata olives, thinly sliced
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
*Note: Recipe altered from the original 


Lunch 2: Inspired by Strawberry-Chicken Salad with Pecans
I love this recipe! I have made it three weeks in a row. Strawberries are so delightful right now, and I love the combination with chicken and toasted nuts. The original recipe is served with pecans, but I used toasted almonds instead and served it with 1/2 of a breast per salad and held the farro. This recipe only makes two servings, so you’ll see my third recipe below. 

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic* vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups halved strawberries, divided
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast* ( save one for the next three lunches)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Cooking spray
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 tablespoons chopped almonds*, toasted
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled* (about 1/4 cup)
*Changed from the original recipe 

Lunch 3: The Mix and Match
(Makes 3 servings)
5 cups fresh baby spinach
4 tablespoons chopped almonds, toasted
1.5 ounces feta cheese
12 kalamata olives, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
The other cooked chicken breast from the Strawberry Chicken Salad


Shopping List (and how to use up or save the extra)
Fresh thyme – Since you won’t use up all of these in, save them by making dry herbs in the microwave.
1 container of strawberries – Slice and eat with the remaining Greek yogurt for breakfast one morning 
1 16-ounce container 2% Greek yogurt – Save and enjoy for breakfast with the strawberries.
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
Fresh baby spinach
Red onion
1 Lemon
1 Cup dry quinoa
1 Cup baby kale
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Grape tomatoes
2 cucumbers
24 Kalamata olives – Buy specific amount from an olive bar, or save them—they keep for up to a year.
Feta cheese
1 Red pepper

Pantry Items:
Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked paprika
Cooking spray
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Dried oregano
Ground cumin
Canned chickpeas

Make these along with our waste-free dinner plan, grab a carton of eggs and a bag of coffee, and you’ll have a week free of food waste. Challenge yourself to eat in more and waste less this week.

See More:


  1. Heidi Rousseau

    Earth Day,don’t even know when it is but I am cooking for one now and I waste very little but will try to do better.I too like the chicken thighs,not the breast which has no flavor. I will freeze my chicken after it is cooked and eat it when I get hungry for chicken.I wrap each piece individually and lay them flat so they won’t take much room in the freezerI freeze most of my food so it doesn’t go to waste. I also buy in small quanitys so I don’t spend as much as a large family.I do like to go to the store quite often (2 or 3 times a week) but only buy what I need.

    April 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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