I am no stranger to meal planning, but i haven’t really had to think much about it for the last two years since my mother-in-law has been living with us and helping immensely around the house. She did most of the cooking, too, so not having to deal with the mental load of planning meals and cooking was invaluable to us! Knowing that my in-laws would be out of the country for one month, my husband and I got over our initial anxiety of handling all three kiddos solo with a little planning, preparation, and reminding ourselves that this is totally doable. We have gotten through week 1 of 4 (but who’s counting, lol), and I thought it would be fun to share our weekly meal plans. I often look to blog posts for meal plan ideas and recipes, so hopefully these posts are useful to some of you too! Here’s what we cooked and ate for dinner last week:
Saturday/Sunday: Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup
One kid came down with the stomach virus that has been making its way around the whole country it seems, and then my husband caught it too. He was starting to slowly recover being able to eat by the weekend, and he mentioned wanting to have a nice chicken noodle soup. I decided to make it from scratch, having never made it before. It turned out to be super easy, healthy, and SO delicious! It is just what you would imagine wanting out of a chicken noodle soup when you’re sick. And it’s a THOUSAND times better than Campbell’s. I used the instant pot recipe from “Damn Delicious.” You can also make it in a regular pot using this recipe.
Monday/Tuesday: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage & Kale
The ingredients for the recipe are few and simple, and the recipe was so easy and quick, that I was worried it would taste a bit bland. However, I added some dried Italian herbs, and the overall flavor was quite tasty and lemony. It was a hit even with the kids! It also made a big serving that lasted two days.
Wednesday/Thursday: Loaded Taco Baked Potatoes
This is a recipe we have made so many times in the past. The most time-consuming part is baking the Russet potatoes in the oven which takes 1 hour. If you plan ahead to make sure you pre-heat and get those bad boys in the oven ahead of time, the taco meat takes about 30 total minutes to prepare and cook. I usually suate some garlic and onion, brown the meat, add a can of Amy’s chili, add taco seasoning, and throw in some chopped kale. Then, serve over your baked potato however you like (a pat of butter, some sour cream, some shredded cheese, some salsa). It’s super tasty and filling! Here’s another similar recipe that uses the instant pot.
Friday: Chicken Fajitas
Self-explanatory! Chicken fajitas are super simply. Sauté some onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chicken with cumin, salt and pepper. Heat up some corn tortillas right over the flame. Use whatever toppings you like on tacos! We had leftovers to eat on Sunday too =)
Saturday: Neighbor’s BBQ + Winter Salad (Pioneer Woman)
The weather was sunny and a bit warmer than it had been in months, so we had a nice BBQ at our neighbor’s house! All I had to do was prep a salad, and I made this beautiful and delicious winter salad that I’ve made before. Even my husband likes this salad because it has a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette. The crisp apples, roasted butternut squash, and goat cheese make it healthy and flavorful. I splurged on some store-bought candied pecans, but you could make those at home if you’re feeling fancy. I left out the shredded vegetables from the recipe this time, but added blueberries for extra color and anti-oxidants! The first time I made it, I topped it with sliced blood oranges which looked gloriously vibrant against the dark green kale. I highly recommend this salad for a party or gathering!