Meal planning is a big deal to me, it keeps me sane!
We are busy and dinner is the one time of day that all four of us can sit down together and reconnect. Between work schedule, kids sports, and life in general it would be easy to get take out several nights a week… but I make it my mission to avoid it. There are tons of other things that I am willing to give up, but making my family a decent meal isn’t one of them. Honestly it brings me joy to cook and to hear G say “good dinner Mom.”
Before we get much farther… If you are expecting beautiful “food porn” photos, a complete grocery list including prices, a cute little printable, nutritional information, all organic ingredients (gluten free, paleo, dairy free) or anything else like that, you can look away now. I don’t have the time or the technical skills for that. I WILL give you my basic list of easy meals that we eat (and like) on a regular basis. Each meal has 30 minutes or less of hands on time and no hard to find ingredients.
All these meals can be doubled for larger families. There are 4 of us, but my kids eat like adults and each meal is plenty enough for dinner. (Most days the hubby takes left overs for lunch the next day.) You can always double them and save one for later too!
Click here to view my list: Basic meal planner It contains 9 recipes, so if you double it that’s 18 meals! I also gave you a few small changes you could make to shake up your menu. For instance make Parmesan Pork Chops one night and the next week sub chicken for pork, it’s like a totally different meal.
So let’s just say you don’t double the meal, but you do use my substitutions… you end up with 13 meals. So what do you make the rest of the month? I try to make 3-4 new recipes a month. If it is something we like then I can add it to our regular rotation. I also have my stand by meals, the ones I always have ingredients on hand for:
Breakfast for dinner (Pancakes, bacon, and eggs)
Fried rice (I use left over meat and 2 scrambled eggs for protein)
Whole wheat pasta and salad
Spicy Pork Noodles
Burgers on the grill
Pork Tenderloin on the grill with veggies
Of course we have our nights when nothing goes my way and we eat frozen pizza or grilled cheese. I’m no Mary Poppins! I also plan that we will eat out once a month (twice if I have a coupon.) That pretty much covers dinner for 20+ days.
Do you already meal plan or are you new to it? What are your stand by meals?