In this post, I’ll be sharing meal planning ideas and recipes to help you make simple yet delicious and healthy dinners any night of the week.
Did you know the most essential part of any meal plan is the menu and recipes? That’s right! Having a plan in place makes you one step ahead of the game, and by the end of this post, you’ll have fresh ideas, tips, and of course, recipes to introduce into your weekly rotation.
So with no further ado, let’s talk all things, meal planning, and food!
How to Plan Meals for a Week?
If you’re just getting started and looking for recipes and tips on how to meal plan for beginners, this is the right place.
Below you’ll find recipes that are perfect for implementing into a meal plan; so if you want to give it a shot, these are perfect to start with.
For instance, you can select 2-4 recipes that look best with at least 2 having similar ingredients, such as:
- Monday- Spinach & Tomato Tortellini Skillet
- Tuesday- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Wednesday- Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice
- Thursday- Leftovers from Monday and Wednesday
- Friday- Buffalo Chicken Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Plan them accordingly, keeping in mind that the leftover Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken from the tacos will be repurposed into loaded sweet potatoes later in the week, so you might want to make extra.
The potatoes can be baked ahead of time, and if you are making your own cauliflower rice for the Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice, you can prep it up to 5 days ahead of time.
See where I’m going?!
Meal Planning Recipes
Like most of the recipes in our family meal plans, the ones in this post had to meet certain criteria:
- The ability to be prepped entirely or partially ahead of time.
- Length of cooking time. My limit is no more than 45 minutes.
- Can it be made in one skillet, sheet pan, or slow cooker?
- Nutritional quality.
Some of these recipes will check every box, while others just 1 or 2, but they’re all winners!
Recipe: Sheet Pan Dijon Chicken & Roasted Vegetables
A sheet pan dinner you can prep the night before and have ready to bake come dinner time! You can also opt to swap the veggies for sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli florets, brussels sprouts- the decision is yours!
Recipe: Spinach & Tomato Tortellini Skillet
An easy meal that comes together in one skillet with store-bought tortellini, fresh spinach, fire-roasted tomatoes, and a light cream sauce. It’s a meatless dinner you can enjoy one night with enough leftovers for a personal office lunch.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken in a tortilla with lettuce, avocado, Blue Cheese, and Homemade Ranch Dressing. It’s quick, divine, and makes enough for TWO meals, which brings us to…
Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Loaded Sweet Potatoes
My gosh- these are a MUST! Since you’ll already have the shredded Buffalo chicken ready, go ahead and bake the sweet (or regular) potatoes, and keep in the refrigerator so all you have to do come dinner, is reheat, assemble, and enjoy!
Recipe: Taco Soup
A perfect recipe for a large pot of soup that can be both a dinner and lunch for the week! You can make this entire dish ahead of time and let it set in the refrigerator (soup always tastes better the 2nd day) until you’re ready to serve.
Recipe: Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice
Save time by purchasing pre-made cauliflower rice and shelled and deveined shrimp. You’ll need no more than 20 minutes to whip this fried rice up in a skillet. Kids don’t like cauliflower rice, swap it 1:1 for cooked rice or go half and half.
Those were options I made mention in the video, but since you are here, I’ll share a few more of my personal and meal plan member favorites!
Recipe: Bruschetta Chicken Bake
The Tomato Bruschetta can be entirely made ahead of time, from there all you have to do is bake the chicken, top it with the bruschetta, cheese, and voíla!
Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara
Another 20 minutes skillet meal made with pasta and bacon in a delicious light sauce. This one will be a family favorite.
Recipe: Cajun Shrimp Tacos
Taco night is a must and these Cajun Shrimp Tacos never disappoint. Shrimp is one of the fastest ingredients to cook up in the oven and if you make the Black Bean & Avocado Salsa ahead of time, this will be an easy meal to pull off!
Recipe: Chicken Flatbread Bar
This is a quickie you can pull together with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, flatbreads, veggies, and hummus. Better yet, if you have leftover baked chicken from a previous dinner, now is the time to use it!
How to Meal Plan for a Family
We often choose recipes based on our family’s tastes, ingredient availability, how long it takes, and dietary needs. No wonder it takes a long time!
It’s almost like putting together a puzzle, especially when you are trying to fit everyone’s preferences and tastes. Sometimes, it’s not possible nor realistic to make something everyone will love but it is possible to include at least ONE favorite ingredient of each member.
So if it’s soup and someone isn’t a fan of soup, I’ll make soft yeast rolls or breadsticks.
My daughter loves broccoli, but my sons? Not so much. Therefore, I’ll serve the steamed broccoli alongside something the boys enjoy, like American Goulash or No-Bake Lasagna.
This is also easy to do with self-serve dinners like Loaded Baked Potato Bars, homemade pizza nights, tacos, and salad bars. They are always a hit and can easily be switched up for different family members.
I aim to include a lot of fresh veggie options for toppings along with their favorite dips, sauces, and cheese.
For picky eaters, I’ve set a standard of at least 2 to 3 fresh toppings, so I know they are getting a variety and not just cheese and potatoes.
This gives everyone; kids included options to choose from and a sense of responsibility and freedom to build their own meal. Did I mention the cleanup is easy and they often include enough leftovers for lunch the next day? Another reason to love DIY.
Free Sample Weekly Meal Plan for the Family
If meal planning is something you’ve wanted to try but don’t know where to start, you can download a free sample meal plan here. It’s a sample of what our meal plans members receive each week and a total game-changer for making lunches and dinners your family will love.
The recipes are made with real-food ingredients that are budget-friendly.
But most importantly, they’ll help you get a meal on the table without having to “figure out” what to make.
Attached to the recipes is a meal-prep guide and completed shopping list, which means less time in the kitchen, wooh!
Easy Meal Planning Tips
While we are on the topic, I’d like to elaborate on two favorite features that set our meal plans apart from others: the shopping list and meal prep guide.
The prep guide gives instructions on what ingredients to prep ahead and when to do so. Having veggies chopped, meat marinated, salads assembled, and sauces prepared frees up more time in the evenings and makes preparing meals much more relaxed.
Shopping lists help you to better navigate the grocery store and stick to the original plan. In the end, it can help you save both time and money, so I suggest not leaving the house without it!
Aside from hand-selecting meals, composing a shopping list can take a lot of time- so instead, let me do it for you.
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