I'm going to sing the praises of the weekly meal plan. I know what every last one of my readers is going to say - but it's so time consuming!
I planned two weeks worth of meals in about 15 minutes. What's the secret? Repeated meals!
Once or twice a week I incorporate our favorite dishes. A couple of my favorite dishes are Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs, burritos, nachos, and sandwiches.
For instance, Mondays are my tired days because it's the first day back to work in the week and frankly, it's exhausting! I usually try to make a crockpot meal or a sandwich meal for that day. And when I say sandwiches, it can range from normal turkey and cheese all the way to grilled chicken and dijon panini - depending on my budget.
We're fairly simple eaters so we find no problems having a nice grilled cheese with tomato soup once every few weeks. And spaghetti and meatballs (or alternately spaghetti with chicken parmesan) can be made almost on a weekly basis and we are happy campers.
Usually on a Tuesday I'll make burritos because I've had Monday night's cooking session to throw some dried beans into my electric pressure cooker as my prep-work. Our burritos are usually vegetarian because, well, they can be!
One thing I think a lot of homemakers forget (men & women!) is that there are going to be leftovers. There are also going to be nights when you just MUST order pizza or grab fast food because you're craving it. I aim to plan four meals a week, leaving the other three days up to random leftovers or fast food cravings. If you spend 45 minutes to make a giant fruit salad once a week, you have it as a side dish any day or night.
Any "real" food I plan, like dijon chicken, gets amped up with steamed frozen veggies and a packet of spiced rice. We're talking 30 minutes from fridge door to table - this is the max time I want to spend cooking. I clean as I go and then I'm done for the evening.
Here's my two week plan as it stands. (Note: I'm moving soon so I'm using up some freezer items to make the transition a bit easier.)
Week 1 Meal 1: Toasted Ravioli with Marinara and big Italian salads
Week 1 Meal 2: Chili cheese burritos (canned chili, shredded cheddar, crumbled tortilla chips inside a flour shell - microwaved)
Week 1 Meal 3: Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry (1 lb diced raw chicken, 1/2 lb frozen broccoli, white rice and some sort of impromptu sauce using soy sauce)
Week 1 Meal 4: Hamburgers & French Fries (Grandma Jean gave us some frozen patties from QVC which sound yummy, adding the thin buns, leftover salad & cheese, frozen remnants of french fries from freezer)
Week 2 Meal 1: Beef vegetable soup (crockpot: frozen mixed veggies, can tomatoes, can beef broth, 1/2 lb diced stew beef, spices)
Week 2 Meal 2: Spaghetti and Crockpot Meatballs (crockpot meatballs: 1 lb ground turkey, 1/2 c. bread crumbs, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, 2 tsp italian seasonings, salt & pepper rolled into little balls and put raw into one jar of spaghetti sauce in a crockpot on low all day)
Week 2 Meal 3: Qdoba Copycat Burritos (see previous blog post)
Hey! I only had to plan 3 meals for work nights next week because of the holiday - bonus :) When I have time, I can put together any number of dishes on the weekends and days off.
Tell me what some of your favorite weekly meals are!