Welcome to my lifestyle blog!

30 Days of The Defined Dish: Top 5 Recipes

You guys! I did it! I completed my 30 days of The Defined Dish Recipe Challenge!

In case you missed it... During the whole month of January, I made one (or more) recipes every day from Alex Snodgrass' food blog, The Defined Dish! I even took it one step further and made all Whole30 recipes. Honestly, I am shocked and proud that I was able to pull this off and I am SO incredibly glad I did!

I learned so much during this challenge. I branched out of my culinary comfort zone with all of the different cuisines and ingredients I used during the last 30 days. The fact that I used red curry paste and fish sauce MULTIPLE times during this challenge says something, in my opinion.

Not only was this a learning experience, but it was also a great way to connect with a ton of new people! I think that was my favorite part of this challenge. So many of you found Young, Whole, and Hungry through The Defined Dish's Instagram and I am so glad to have been able to interact and engage with all of you! You all have shown so much support and love and I appreciate it so much. You guys really made this whole challenge fun for me. And without you, I don't know if I would have followed through. So THANK YOU!

Okay, lets get to the reason you are reading this.

Top 5 Recipes

You all gave me so many great ideas for how to categorize the top recipes but I decided on 5 categories that will hopefully cover most of the bases: Best Weeknight Recipe, Best Leftovers, Best Budget-Friendly Recipe, Best Dish to Pass, and Best Recipe Overall. So, let's get started!

Best Weeknight Recipe

Ah, weeknight meals. My schedule was pretty jam-packed during my recipe challenge, so I am so glad Alex has some great weeknight dinner options that are quick and easy to make. Here are the requirements I considered when picking my favorite. Taste was also a factor in all of these categories, obvi.


  • minimal, basic ingredients
  • takes 40 min or less
  • very little prep/cutting
  • inexpensive
  • good for all ages
  • can batch cook (optional)

And the best weeknight recipe goes to... Chicken Bacon Ranch Bowls! This recipe checks all of the boxes. Total cook time is 35 min; it calls for only 8 ingredients (that you most likely already have); there is minimal prep, and I know that everyone who loves bacon and ranch will love this recipe.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Bowls

This is great meal-prep recipe. Just double everything and you have at least 8 servings! You can also stretch the recipe by adding a bed of greens (I added some cruciferous crunch from Trader Joes). I am ALL for stretching out recipes to make them last longer! Needless to say, this recipe is definitley a winner winner chicken dinner.

Best Budget-Friendly Recipe

This category makes me laugh because let me tell you, this recipe challenge was NOT budget-friendly. But that happens when you cook a variety of cuisines and use a variety of ingredients! This doesn't mean that all the recipes I made were super expensive! There were quite a few budget friendly recipes, some I liked better than others! So this award goes to the recipe that meets the following requirements:

  • minimal, basic ingredients
  • inexpensive - roughly $4 or less per serving (this is an estimate)
  • can batch cook - because meal-prepping saves you money

This recipe may not have been the cheapest recipe, but it was definitely my favorite budget-friendly recipe! Without further adieu... the best budget-friendly recipe was the Sloppy Janes! Not only are the ingredients in this recipe relatively cheap, but you can easily meal-prep this recipe, which in turn prevents you from going out to eat!

Sloppy Janes

This recipe's estimated cost (depending on the quality/price of your meat/spices) is $3.25 per serving! It calls for 13 different ingredients, but you will most likely have a majority of the spices and possibly some meat and potatoes already on hand! This recipe was also in the weeknight meals category, but it was just a bit too long - 45 min. I would still say this is a good weeknight meal because the majority of the time is spent cooking the potatoes in the oven!

Best Leftovers

Leftovers are my saving grace when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle! I always make sure we have double the servings we need so we can have leftovers for lunch the next day! And I love when recipes are even better the next day. Here are the requirements for best leftovers:

  • Can be stored in one container
  • reheats well
  • can be eaten alone (doesn't need sides)

I think the 1st and last requirements are the most important for this category because 1. you don't want have multiple containers taking up room in your fridge, lunch box, or sink; and 2. if you have to make an extra side to go with your leftovers, you might as well just make a whole new meal. So the winner of Best Leftovers goes to Whole30 Pad Thai!

Whole30 Pad Thai

I don't think this needs an explanation and this is definitely a recipe that tastes better the next day! The only thing I will say is that we used sweet potato noodles instead of spaghetti squash, but I don't think that will have an affect on whether this is a good leftover or not!

Best Dish to Pass

One thing that can be tough during Whole30 is having people over for dinner. You want to make sure that they enjoy their food, but don't feel like they are restricted by your eating choices. You also want to make an affordable dish, since you are making more food than usual. So for this category, the recipes had to meet the following requirements:

  • not time-consuming - you don't want to be spending most of your time in your kitchen
  • adaptable - you can add a basic grain or starch to make sure your guest doesn't feel like they are on the Whole30 with you
  • affordable - depending on your budget, I guess!

The winner of this recipe category is... EPIC meatballs! Who doesn't love meatballs, am I right? And these aren't just any regular old meatballs; they are seriously luxurious!

Epic Baked Meatballs

If you want, serve these with a loaf of french bread and some pasta to go underneath and you have yourself a delicious non-whole30 meal for your guests to enjoy! This recipe is great because once you mix the meat and roll the balls, you set it and forget it for a little, giving yourself time to enjoy your guest's company and a glass of wine. I know I did! This is also a great dish to pass at a party, just stick some toothpicks in the balls and call it a day!

Best Recipe Overall

Now for my favorite recipe of all time. The requirements for this recipe are pretty simple.

  • Tastes DELICIOUS
  • Smells DELICIOUS
  • And is relatively easy to make!

I honestly didn't have to put much thought into this one because the second I had this recipe, I knew it was meant to be. So the winner of the BEST RECIPE OVERALL is (drum roll please!) Hibachi Style Chicken with Magic Mustard Sauce!

Hibachi Style Chicken with Magic Mustard Sauce

This recipe truly is magical. I love everything about it and its not just the magic sauce that makes it magic. The chicken and veggies alone are delightful and the sauce just brings this dish to a whole other level. Not to mention, this dish is relatively budget-friendly, easy to make, and minimal additional ingredients (meaning you probably have most of the ingredients already). I love love love this recipe and I can't wait to make it again!

Other Honorable Mentions

I hope you enjoyed reading my top recipes! Let me know if you ever try one!

XO, Maddie!

$25 Aldi Grocery Haul - Weeknight Staples

My Morning Routine