A Big-Batch Winter Meal Plan


You’ve got presents to wrap, parties to attend, a million little to-do’s—and zero time to make dinner this month! But before you take care of everyone and everything else on your list, nourish yourself first. Throw together this healthy big-batch meal this weekend, and let it feed you through the rest of the crazy holiday countdown. The plan is simple: Budget-friendly chicken thighs, root veggies, and cruciferous veggies are the basic ingredients. Remix them for fast and flavorful dinners all week, from a sweet and crunchy salad to a cozy and comforting stew fit for a winter’s eve.

Each recipe makes 2 servings, but you can easily double up, if you’ve got more mouths to feed. The plan covers Sunday through Thursday, and leaves Friday open for festivities. There’s a shopping list for what you’ll need to buy, with a few pantry staples at the bottomcheck to make sure you have those on hand!

Shopping list:

2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 large sweet potato
Brussels sprouts
1 apple
Mixed greens
Cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
Baby spinach or kale
Fresh pre-made pesto
Part-skim mozzarella cheese
8 chicken thighs
Brown rice
1 can (15 oz/470 g) black beans
1 can (28 oz/875 g) diced tomatoes
2 whole-grain rolls

Pantry staples:

Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Ground chile
Ground cumin
Dried oregano

Weekend Prep: Roast the Chicken & Veggies, Cook the Rice

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Line 2 or 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment or foil. Place the chicken thighs on a prepared baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is no longer pink at the center, about 30 minutes.

Peel or scrub and cut the carrots, parsnips, and sweet potato into bite-size pieces. Place on a prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread out. Roast until tender and golden, 30 minutes. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts, and prep the same way. Roast until tender-crisp and golden, 20 minutes.

In a pot over medium-high heat, combine 1½ cups (10½ oz/330 g) brown rice and 3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, 45 minutes or according to package directions.

Let the chicken, vegetables, and rice cool, transfer to storage containers, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.  

Sunday: Roasted Chicken, Mashed Roots & Brussels Sprouts

If you’re cooking on Sunday, enjoy a crispy roast dinner tonight. Take 2 chicken thighs, the carrots and parsnips, and half of the Brussels sprouts. If necessary, warm in a low oven or the microwave. Transfer the carrots and parsnips to a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add hot water, stock, or milk, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and stir to combine. Transfer the chicken thighs, mashed root vegetables, and Brussels sprouts to plates and serve warm.

Monday: Chicken Salad with Apple & Pecans

Use up those tender salad greens, before they wilt in the fridge! Take 2 chicken thighs, remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Core and chop the apple. In a bowl, place the shredded chicken, chopped apple, remaining Brussels sprouts, pecans, and mixed greens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you’d like, drizzle with vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Place the salad on plates and serve.

Tuesday: Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

Take 2 chicken thighs, remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Split the rolls in half lengthwise and spread with pesto. Pile with the chicken and tomatoes and top with slices of mozzarella. Toast until the mozzarella has melted and the sandwiches are warmed through. Gently press the sandwiches together and serve warm.  

Wednesday: Burrito Bowls with Sweet Potatoes & Black Beans

Take a break from chicken, and make it a veggie night. Drain and rinse the black beans. Pile half of the rice into bowls and add the beans and roasted sweet potato. Warm in the microwave. Top with salsa and sliced avocado and serve warm.

Thursday: Chicken Stew with Tomatoes & Greens  

Simmer everything you’ve got left into a comforting stew. Take the 2 chicken thighs, remove and discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Chop the onion and mince 2 cloves garlic. In a pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chicken, tomatoes and their juices, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer to warm through and let the flavors blend. Stir in the baby spinach until wilted, 2 minutes. Pile the remaining rice into bowls and warm in the microwave. Ladle the stew over the rice and serve warm.

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