You know what time is not typically the high-point of my day?
The kids are home from school, my work day is over (at least until bedtime), and the next big thing on my task list is dinner. Ugh.
It’s not the actual cooking that is problematic and not the eating or even the clean up. It’s the part where I have to figure out what to make that gets me every time.
Except when I’ve taken the time to meal plan.
Each time I schedule out our meals, shop for all the necessary groceries and know ahead of time what I’m preparing, I’m good. But stand me in the kitchen with four hungry children staring at me asking what’s for dinner? when I don’t have a preset plan and my mind goes blank. There are many things I’m good at, but whipping up healthy dinners on a whim is definitely not one of them.
I have tried coming up with a monthly schedule of meals (this was one of my more valiant efforts) and while it does go smoothly, it just doesn’t stick. I’ve joined meal clubs where they create menus for you, and that doesn’t always work for our family either. If we could we would eat out or get take-out every night, but that is not the most practical solution, nor financially feasible.
So what’s a terrible meal-planning mama to do?
Make it SUPER easy.
Here’s the plan: we’re eating the same 5 meals every weeknight.
This was actually Ryan’s suggestion and I’m fully on board. It really couldn’t get any more simple and I’m excited to see how it works for us. We like good food, we like variety, we like seasonal options, but goodness, I just can’t keep up. Limiting our weekly meals to five of our go-to basics will *hopefully* reduce that stressful 4 o’clock what’s for dinner madness.
The five meals I chose for this season are decidedly fall-ish and proven family favorites. We’ll grow tired of them, I’m sure, so the plan is to switch out the meals every couple of months.
Here’s our menu:
MONDAY// Turkey Chili, salad, cornbread (or flatbread)
This is our busiest weekday so we’re doing a favorite soup that can cook all day and be ready for us in between ballet class and soccer practice. This turkey chili is delicious and can be doubled or tripled and then frozen. Each week I’ll pull out a frozen batch, put it in the slow cooker on low, serve it with a quick green salad and cornbread.
TUESDAY: Taco Soup + chips
Another favorite soup that is also very healthy and great the next day for lunch. The kids like crunching up blue corn tortilla chips and sprinkling with grated cheese, sour cream and cilantro.
WEDNESDAY // grilled chicken + mediterranean quinoa salad + grilled flatbread
While the weather holds up, we’ll keep grilling the chicken outside but once it starts raining, I’ll switch to baking it. The quinoa salad recipe below is great, and so is this one.
THURSDAY // burrito bowls
We eat these once a week usually, so everyone will be happy keeping burrito bowls modeled after Chipotle’s on our weekly menu. I make cilantro lime rice (like this), add black beans, refried beans, lettuce, salsa, avocado and sour cream. Shredded rotisserie chicken, grilled flank steak or seasoned ground beef are all options (just depends on what’s on hand or what sounds best).
FRIDAY // pizza night
I’m excited to start a new tradition and make our own pizza like Myquillyn & her family.
As for other meals, I have a bunch of ideas jotted down to help the kids figure out what they want packed in their lunches and what (besides cereal) they can eat for breakfast. Having this list helps me keep our refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy choices. Anything to make this feeding a big family thing easier!
So that’s the plan. Nothing fancy and probably a little boring after a while, but it will simplify a task I don’t excel at, removing stress and extra unnecessary eating out. If you’d like more ideas for dinner ideas, check out my dinners pinterest board.
Now it’s your turn … do you have a favorite meal you eat weekly? Or a meal planning strategy that works for your family?