Do you dread meal planning? Or have trouble coming up with different meal ideas each week? I love food, cooking, and recipe hunting, but there are times when I draw a complete blank on what to eat that week. And we all know that it’s next to impossible to eat smart, shop on a budget, and survive the dinnertime rush without meal planning. Thanks to a recent blog post I read, I’ve got some menu shortcuts that will help you plan your menu this week with less time and effort.
Creating a theme for each dinner makes figuring out what to fix so much easier. Some examples might be:
- Slow Cooker Sundays
- Burger Mondays
- Taco Tuesdays
- Pizza Wednesdays
- Pasta Thursdays
- Fish Fridays
- Stir-fry Saturdays
- Leftover Night
- Soup Night
- Breakfast for Dinner (this is a popular one!)
- Baked Potato and Toppings
And it doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. Even when sticking to these basic themes, you can still make different versions/recipes to keep it interesting. Take Taco Tuesdays. You could fix chicken tacos, bean tacos, ground beef tacos, fish tacos, taco salads, etc. And have different toppings, too. Think of the mix and match possibilities!
The best thing about this approach is your kids will start to look forward to their favorite meal nights and you’ll get faster at putting meals together.
Fill in the Blank Meals
Using MyPlate as your guide, you can pick a few different proteins, vegetables, grains, and fruit options to serve throughout the week. At dinnertime, you pick one from each category and serve! How easy is that? This method is also very easy to prep ahead of time and then just reheat each night as needed. Again, by mixing and matching each category, you don’t have to eat the same food combos each night.
Along the same lines, you can make a batch of two or three different proteins, vegetables and grains with very basic seasoning. During the week, you add a different sauce for a different flavor for each meal. Try using tomato sauce, salsa, pesto, or a basic vinaigrette to give each meal a unique taste.
These ideas should give you a starting point for your weekly menu and inspire some fun meals for your family. What’s your favorite tip for making meal planning easier?