Farmers Market Meal Plan: Week 2 of the September Eat Local Challenge

This week's meal plan is all about ease! 2 slow-cooker recipes mean that dinner is all but ready when you get home from work. And with classics like ribs, nachos, and chicken alfredo, you can keep the meat-eaters and cheese-lovers happy, while also fueling up on plenty of fresh veggies. Keep in mind these meal plans are a guideline, and feel free to adapt recipes as you see fit. Substitutions can always be made in a pinch and quantities can be adjusted. This meal plan is meant to feed a family of 4 for 5 nights. But you’ll most certainly have leftovers for lunch with some of the recipes as well as additional ingredients that could be re-purposed during the week. Like leftover chimichurri sauce and nacho toppings....taco salad for lunch anyone?

And don't forget to sign up for the Central Illinois Eat Local September Challenge to get farmers market meal plans like this one delivered straight to your inbox during the month of September.

Farmers Market Shopping List

  • 8 large sweet potatoes- $5.00 ($1.25/lb)

  • 2 ears frozen sweet corn- $1.00

  • 2 bulbs garlic- $1.25 ($0.62 each)

  • 2 red onions - $1.50 ($0.75 each)

  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves - $2.00

  • 2 bunch kale - $5.00

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced - $1.00

  • 1 spaghetti squash - $2.00

  • 2.7 pounds baby back pork ribs (approximately 1 full slab) - $16.2 ($6.00/lb)

  • 1 whole chicken- $16.00 (about 4lbs. at $4.00/lb)

Total: $58.70

Based on Illinois Farmers Market Price Reports and the Springfield Old Capitol Farmers Market

Additional ingredients

(You may be able to find some of these additional items, like cheese and bread, at your farmers market or local food retailer as well, so be sure to check!)


  • Chili powder

  • Cumin

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Garlic powder

  • smoked paprika

  • onion powder

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Sage

  • BBQ Dry rub


  • 1 loaf favorite multigrain or country style bread.

  • 1 bag tortilla chips

  • Flour

Cans and Condiments

  • 1 14-ounce can refried black beans

  • 1 bottle of barbecue sauce

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans

  • Red wine vinegar

  • Dijon mustard

  • 6 cups chicken or veggie broth

  • Olive Oil

  • Dried cranberries


  • 1 package feta cheese

  • 1 block gouda cheese (or monterrey jack)

  • 4oz cream cheese

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

  • Butter

  • Milk

  • Half and Half

Meal Plan

Sunday Prep Day:

  • Put your ribs in the refrigerator to defrost overnight

  • Scrub all 8 sweet potatoes and slice into wedges. You can save even more time tomorrow by boiling the sweet potatoes tonight so they are ready to be thrown on the grill tomorrow after work.

  • Prepare your chimichurri sauce. The sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for the sweet potatoes as well as a topping for the nachos. It can also double as a great salad dressing for a healthy lunch.

Day 1: Slow Cooker Ribs, Sweet Potato Fries, and Chimichurri

Start the day off by dusting your ribs with a BBQ dry rub and tossing them in the slow cooker on low. They can hang out in there for 6 – 8 hours. Once you get home from work, light up the grill and toss on your sweet potatoes. You’re preparing a double batch of the sweet potato fries to use in the sweet potato nachos and sweet potato soup later in the week. Grill for a few minutes on each side and then remove. Reserve half for later and serve half with the chimichurri dipping sauce. Take your ribs from the crockpot and throw them on the grill. Baste in barbecue sauce and grill with lid closed for a few minutes on one side, then flip, add more sauce, repeat. Serve with the sweet potato fries and chimichurri.


Sweet potato fries (double this recipe):


Day 2: Sweet Potato Nachos

Divide you’re sweet potatoes in half. You’ll use half for the nachos and the other half for soup later in the week. You’re sweet potatoes are ready to go, so all you have to do here is whip up the cheese sauce using the gouda or monterrey jack cheese that you purchased. Make sure to save a portion of the cheese to use in the kale toasted cheese sandwiches later in the week. Alternatively, you could make it all into cheese sauce and just use cheese sauce in the toasted cheese sandwiches instead of the hard cheese. Might be a little gooey, but still delicious! The recipe calls for frozen corn, but use fresh. You can also top the nachos with chimichurri sauce in place of the cilantro. Lastly, the recipe calls for cotija cheese, but you can sub the feta that your purchase. And if you have any leftover ribs, you can pull the rib meat off and use it in the nachos as well. Mmm-mmm delicious.

Sweet Potato Nachos

Day 3: Slow Cooker Chicken with Kale and White Bean Panzanella

Place your chicken in the fridge the night before to defrost. In the morning put it in the slow cooker, it will be ready to go when you’r done with work and all you have to do is make the. Kale Panzanella. Go ahead and chop up all of your Kale tonight. You’ll use most of it in the panzanella, but save about 4 cups to use in tomorrow’s recipe. You’ll also use most of the bread in the panzanella, but make sure to leave 8 slices of bread for making kale grilled cheese tomorrow. After dinner, reserve a portion of the chicken and any leftover panzanella to be used in Friday’s alfredo recipe.

Roasted Chicken:

Kale Panzanella:

Day 4: Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup with Kale grilled cheese sandwiches

Roast a red pepper and then use the pepper and your leftover sweet potatoes to make a creamy soup. Serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches made from the reserved cups of kale and 8 slices of bread.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup:

Kale Grilled Cheese (double this recipe):

Day 5: Spaghetti Squash Alfredo Pasta Bowls

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and place in the microwave for 8 minutes (or roast in the oven for about 40). Once the squash is cool, scoop out the seeds and then use a fork to peel the flesh into spaghetti-like strands. You can save the shells and serve the finished alfredo spaghetti squash inside the shells for a cool presentation. Prepare the spaghetti squash alfredo according to the recipe. You can also stir in any leftover kale panzanella for a heartier dish with a little more green in it.

Alfredo Spaghetti Squash:


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