This time of year always gets busier than we anticipate it will be and I always want to have easy dinner ideas on hand for those kinds of weeks.

As the world starts to return to normal (yay!), so do all of the end of school commitments and hectic evenings driving everyone around, let alone spontaneous nights where we want to eat quickly then maybe — dare I wish for it? — hit a movie theater.

With that in mind, I’m planning out 5 dinners for next week that double up on ingredients when I hit the store and can be prepped earlier in the week or in the day so dinner comes together in a snap.

So, grab your pen and paper, or open up that AnyList app and make a shopping list for the week ahead.

Top Image: Caribbean-style Island Bowls from Feasting at Home

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Caribbean Style Island Bowls from Feasting at Home

Meatless Monday on a sheet pan? Yes please!  These Caribbean-style Island Bowls from Feasting at Home are absolutely the most flavorful bowl I make, and my entire family devours them in minutes.  I love that you can really use any veggies you have in your fridge, but the purple cabbage is my favorite, coupled with that Caribbean-style marinade and sweet, fresh mango.

My meal planning tip: You can chop all of the veggies and make your marinade earlier in the day and throw it all on the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. Just brush on the marinade and in about 25 minutes, dinner is ready.  I add rice as a base for my kiddos (by the way, Liz swears to me that this rice cooker is worth every penny) but any grain will do.

Related: Vegetarian meals for families that are not salad

Shrimp Enchiladas in Creamy Poblano Sauce from Little Spice Jar

Enchiladas are always a fan favorite for my family dinners, and I love them because you can prep everything in advance, then just bake when you get home from all of the things. (I have even popped enchiladas into my oven on a delayed start and they are bubbly hot right when I get home)

I fell in love with this easy dinner recipe for Shrimp Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce that I found at Little Spice Jar a while back, because they are full of veggies and the shrimp is such a huge source of protein. Also, poblano chilis are amazing because they add so much flavor without the heat, if you have spice-reluctant kids.

My meal-planning tip: Double up on the frozen shrimp when you head to the store, and use it later in the week, or just keep an extra bag in your freezer for a quick meal like one of these.



My other meal planning tip: When we moved recently, I needed a replacement 13×9 inch pan because mine were all packed in boxes…somewhere. I picked up one of these Pyrex Easy Grab baking dishes, and has become my new favorite thing in the kitchen! The handles are so convenient, and keep me from dropping heavy meals before they reach the counter. (It’s happened, don’t judge.) Plus I love that the lid keeps everything fresh if you’re refrigerating or freezing  leftovers, and I can cut back on waste by skipping plastic wrap or foil.


Chinese Chicken Salad from Recipe Tin Eats

Last week, my sister came over for dinner with a Chinese Chicken Salad, and my family is now obsessed!  It is always so good — and yet for some reason, I never think to make it.

This recipe from Recipe Tin Eats covers all of the basics you need and you can even add extra veggies that are in season like sugar snap peas and fresh strawberries.

My meal-planning tip: Grab a rotisserie chicken from the market to save yourself a ton of time. If you really want to save time, indulge yourself in a bag of pre-shredded cabbage while you’re at it.

Related: 20 Unique salad topping ideas to make a boring salad pop

Easy Chicken Fried Rice from IowaGirlEats

If you plan to use rice in your bowls earlier this week like I’m doing, double the recipe and grab two rotisserie chickens and you can toss together this Easy Chicken Fried Rice from Iowa Girl Eats in no time at all, and fried rice makes everyone happy.

My meal-planning tip: If you cook a ton of rice, the giant 20-pound bag of Basmati Rice from Costco is terrific. If you have the pantry space, just pour it into a dedicated grain storage container and dispenser like this one to keep it fresh. Or in our Recipe Rescue Community on Facebook, several people suggested that they simply store it in a food-grade bucket.

Related: 5 easy dinner recipes all using our favorite shortcut

Easy Roasted Shrimp Scampi over Linguini from Diane Morrisey (via Instagram)

Double up on your frozen shrimp when you hit the store at the beginning of the week, and on Friday you will definitely want to throw together this Easy Roasted Shrimp Scampi over Linguini from Diane Morrisey on Instagram. (I love that Instagram has given so many amazing cooks a platform to share their creations with us — jump over and follow @DianeMorrisey.You won’t regret that follow!)

This dinner recipe is so easy, so elegant and looks so darn fancy. You may even have to set the table and dress up for this meal. Ha, just kidding. (Unless you want to.)

My meal-planning tip: Grab a bowl of this pasta with a chilled glass of white wine if you enjoy one, and stick your feet in an inflatable pool in your backyard. And yes that is a tip! Because you deserve it after the week of meals you pulled together.

Follow our Weekly Meal Plan Ideas for Families board on Pinterest @CoolMomEats for even more ideas!

I put these weekly meals plans together based on recipes I am actually cooking for my family, and with you in mind.  If you have suggestions, tips or recommendations for recipes or other food bloggers I should check out please comment here, or shoot me a message in our Recipe Rescue group on Facebook.  – Lisa