A couple of months ago, I hit an absolute meal planning rut. With the hundreds of recipes I have bookmarked, I still couldn’t figure out what seemed like it would fit into a week. I felt like I kept turning to the same things and I knew that if I was having problems with this, other people definitely are.
So my mind went into list-making-problem-solving mode. This is my forte. Growing up I made lists and schedules out of everything I possibly could. Everything.
And so I thought, why not use that list and schedule making obsession for the good of everyone’s (including my own) dinners? I wanted to create a format that would be easy to follow, straightforward, and flexible to use. And so here we begin, with a week’s menu and recipes. (You can download them at the bottom of the post.)
A breakdown for you:
(1) Each meal plan with have seven days, with one of those days being a day to go out to eat (or eat with friends or family or have leftovers or order some pizza…whatever fits into your week best).
(2) Each day has a menu (some of my favorite recipes), prep notes (how to make things faster/easier), make-ahead notes (what you can do the night or morning before dinner) and an ingredient list (with both a list of things you’ll need to buy and things you might already have in your pantry).
(3) It’s all summarized at the beginning with a menu (explaining prep time and involvement) and a grocery list.
(4) In addition to the meal plan, you can also download a PDF of all the recipes for the week (minus things like rice and cous-cous, for which you can follow package directions).
(5) Because I generally feed two people, that’s how I’ve structured the meals. But they can be easily doubled (or more) for however many people you need to feed.
A couple of notes (aka–these meal plans are meant to be flexible):
(1) Some meals take time, some don’t. I’ve tried to balance the meals out with a variety of prep time and prep involvement. Some meals are quick and easy, some meals are easy but take a bit of hands-off time in the oven, some meals are take a bit more time and energy. Make it work for you: change the days up so that meals with longer prep time are for days when you have more time; if you don’t have time to bake chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken and make your sides, etc.
(2) I want these to work, and I’ve worked through them myself. Before I publish any meal plans in the future, I want you to know I’ve cooked through them all and made them work for me. Sometimes I have to rearrange the days when plans change, but I want you to know that I’ve made these work.
Now, on to our first meal plan:
Day One: Fish in Parchment Paper with Green Beans, Cous-cous
This is a fairly easy meal, although the parchment paper sometimes takes some finagling.
Day Two: Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Cider, Garlic Almond Green Beans, Parmesan Polenta
This is an ultimate fall meal, to me. It takes a bit of time, but most of the time you spend with the pork is waiting for it to roast in the oven.
Day Three: Baked Potatoes with (leftover) Roasted Pork Loin
This is perhaps your easiest meal of the week: put the potatoes in and wait for them to bake. If you don’t have time to bake them in the oven, I’m pretty sure there’s a way you can wrap potatoes in foil and cook them in a slow cooker.
Day Four: Molasses Glazed Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, Rice
This is a comfort meal through and through to me. If you mix your marinade up the night before it is super simple too, although it does take a bit of time in the oven.
Day Five: Fried Rice
This is the quickest meal of the week. Just be sure to make extra rice the night before.
Day Six: Out to eat!
Day Seven: Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs, Salad
This is the most time consuming meal of the week, but to speed it up you can roast the meatballs in the oven instead of sauteing them.