We have found that weekly meal planning is the best way to save time, money, and energy. It’s the system that we as a family come back to time and time again!
When life gets busy (with the holidays, school, or general 2020 madness), everything can get out of wack. But that’s the beauty of systems! Putting systems in place allow you to fall back on a plan when things get tough! My weekly meal plan system is exactly that. Some weeks we follow it to a T, other weeks it’s our saving grace for a few nights a week while we order pizza or eat leftovers for the others.
I’ve mentioned my weekly meal plan before and it’s something that resonates with a lot of you. If you need a refresher, here are a few posts from the archives!
- My Never-Ask-Me-Again-What’s-For-Dinner Meal Plan
- Meal Planning in Quarantine
- 3 of my Favorite Fall Recipes
- The Best Weekly Meal Plan Printable for FREE
Now, let me share my best weeknight meals! These meal ideas follow my weekly meal plan system — eating the same things each night of the week.
This is our basic recipe. Things can adjust from here. Don’t have Italian sausage? Use pork, or double ground beef. Want to hide some vegetables in it? Add some shredded zucchini. Feel like adding an extra egg? Be my guest. Breadcrumbs, mozzerella, fontina, garlic? Have at it. The main point of meat balls is the meat, so just remember that as a ratio. Into the oven at 350* for 30 minutes. Can make these ahead of time and freeze.
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 pound of Italian sausage
- 1 Tbs of Italian seasoning
- 1/2 c Parmesan
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
Again, this is the basic recipe. We add the ingredients to the instant pot, set it for 45 minutes, and then shred the chicken before serving with tortillas and cheese. You can add some salt, or minced garlic, or a hint of chipotle if you want to shake things up and layer in some more flavor. And of course, you can always do veggies sides: tomatoes, lettuce, corn. And sometimes we add a side of canned black beans or corn. All of this works really well on a salad, too, for the grain free preference. Can make a bunch of this and freeze. Another option is pork butt and use a jar of salsa verde.
- 4 to 6 chicken breasts
- 1 jar of salsa
- 1 tsp cumin
- Salt – you’ll need to add this to taste after it’s all cooked.
I was having trouble coming up with something kid-friendly, keto, that worked with Wednesday. Then I remembered that we had breakfast food at our wedding reception. So, around our house, it’s Wedding Food Wednesday, which means: BREAKFAST FOR DINNER.
We use Birch Bender’s Paleo pancake mix, and mix with milk, water, or cream. We use the batter for waffles, and we like them nice and crispy. If we want them sweeter, we’ll add a hint of almond flavoring or a handful of chocolate chips. While we are making the waffles, we put bacon in the oven, and sometimes we’ll do a batch of scrambled eggs. We don’t recommend freezing the waffles, but it’s still a pretty easy dinner.
We love the Change Your Life chicken recipe from @thelazygenius. Like the above recipes, it’s not complicated. You get chicken thighs with skin on, rub them with olive oil and seasoning, and place them on top of a cookie sheet covered in veggies. Green beans and potatoes are popular in our house. Click here to check out the full recipe on the Lazy Genius website!
We originally tried to do fish on Fridays, for Fish Fry Fridays, but this fell flat for several reasons. One, we aren’t regular fishermen, and finding fresh clean fish feels like an extra trip to the fish market. Two, we have a shellfish allergy in our house, so that significantly limits our seafood options. Three, we tried to fish sticks for kids, as Whole Foods has some great gluten-free ones, but we don’t shop regularly at Whole Foods, so this was another extra trip. Four, fried fish is the best, but feels oily and messy to do on a weekly basis.
So, we’ve defaulted to pizza. If you want to do this the smart lazy way, you’ll buy a premade crust, sauce, and toppings, and follow the directions. If you want to do this the cheap way, you’ll order $5 pizzas from Little Caesars and worry for the rest of the weekend about all the GMOs you just fed your kids. If you want to slow it down and have some fun, and a glass of wine, on Friday nights, you’ll make the dough, and roll it out, and use cornmeal to slide it onto a pizza stone, and enjoy that crispy goodness you so much deserve. I’ll save this recipe for a longer post.
Our kids have a great deal of love for a good slice of steak. David does the prep on this. He sears the steak in a salt/pepper/garlic seasoning, on high, in my Gran’s cast iron skillet. He then transfers to his Green Egg smoker.
I’m not afraid to say here: we like our steak pink. I like mine with horseradish. Along with the steak, he smokes asparagus with olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper. My kids eat this with their fingers. Maybe someday I’ll get him to film a video about how he does this because it’s TO. DIE. FOR.
When we started this regular weekly meal plan, we were heading into fall and did soup on Sunday nights. Chili, chicken tortilla, pozole were all go-tos, but we’d throw in a white chicken chili, butternut squash, or tomato with grilled cheese, when time and ingredients permitted.
When summer hit, we switched to salad. Fruit salad, chicken salad, beet and burrata salad, tomato and mozzarella with basil, watermelon with mint, even a cold gazpacho or smoothie all qualified as easy, cool, summer Sunday night dinners. And then a few weeks ago, our oldest asked us if we could have a Sushi Sunday, which sounded fabulous, as long as our budget allows for sushi takeout for five!
There you have it! My best weeknight meals. These are the things we actually make and eat as a family so I can tell you they are kid and adult approved. We track everything on our Weekly Meal Plan Sticky Notepad which allows us to map things out early in the week, then stick the meal plan on the fridge for all to see!
What are your favorite weeknight meals? Share below!