The dinner struggle is real, with busy schedules and a family full of picky eaters. Finding inspiration for quick, budget-friendly, and (at least somewhat) healthy meals can be difficult for even the most seasoned home cooks, let alone those whose plates are already piled high.
That’s where meal planning comes in handy—if you can find the time to do it. If you don’t have the time to sit down weekly and plan out your favorite meals, we’ve got you covered with this simple guide that will help you plan your meals as well as your grocery list.
1. Begin with Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and one of our favorites, but it’s also one of the most difficult! To make it easy, you should focus on classics such as bacon, eggs, fruit and a cup of coffee. If you’re not fond of hot black coffee; especially during summer, you can also opt for cold brew or a cup of tea.
2. Protein and vegetables can never go wrong
Steamed or baked vegetables go well with grilled, baked, or pan-fried meat or fish. Change up your marinades and cooking methods for even more variety, and then serve with rice, lentils, or potatoes for a complete meal.
3. Salads and soups are your friends
There are so many hearty salads and filling soups available these days that either one can easily be a meal in itself. If the weather permits, make an elevated salad with some fancy ingredients one night a week to keep things interesting.
Plan on having a hot soup with a crusty baguette for those weeks when you need something a little more comforting.
4. Stock up on ingredients that are simple to assemble
When it comes to throwing together last-minute dinners or figuring out how to use up fresh ingredients that have been sitting in your fridge for a few extra days, having a well-stocked pantry is always essential. Keep canned tuna and plenty of stock on hand, as well as tomato sauce and a few protein-rich grains and legumes.
5. Select Freezer Meals and Leftovers
Remember those meals you made a few months ago and have been sitting in your freezer ever since, just waiting to be eaten? So, start using them right away, especially if you know you have an evening coming up where preparing dinner will just be another thing to worry about.
Last but not least, making one night of no planning is always a good idea. Yes, we’re talking about leftovers. Throw whatever leftovers you have in the fridge on the table for everyone to enjoy once a week, or reimagine them into a creative, brand-new dish with minimal effort.