My kids finished school two weeks ago, and I have comfortably settled into the slower pace of summer. To be honest, I’d rather spend my afternoons at the pool with the kids than meal planning, so I’m working on setting up meal rotation this summer that gives me a framework for planning but allows me room to vary the specific recipes I cook.
My plan is:
– Meatless Mondays
– Taco Tuesdays
– Pasta Wednesdays
– Burger Thursdays
– Grill Fridays (hopefully, with friends).
It’s a smart, time-saving tip that Amiyrah Martin described on the Spawned podcast a while back. This gives me a lot of room to add variety, without having to create a new meal plan from scratch each week. So, with that in mind, here’s what I’ll be making this week. I hope it adds some inspiration for your own family’s meals too.
At top: spicy tomato and shrimp pasta at Serving Dumplings; Ultimate Double Cheeseburgers at Kitchen Sanctuary
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A Meatless Monday meal
My kids love this Firecracker Tofu recipe at Vegan Travel Eats because this thick, sticky, sweet and spicy sauce is so tasty. The only real work in the recipe is whisking together the sauce while you let the rice and broccoli cook and give a quick sear to the tofu. I use store-bought vegetable egg rolls as our side dish, but no matter how many I buy it seems we never have enough—they’re that good. Serve with reusable chopsticks, and enjoy!
Related: 5 bright and flavorful outdoor meals for summer
A Taco Tuesday meal
Taco Tuesday is a loose inspiration for me, meaning anything Mexican (which my family always loves). Lately, I’ve been defaulting to enchiladas. Being able to prep these ahead of time makes it a perfect dinner to pop in the oven as soon as we get home from the pool or park. This chipotle chicken enchiladas recipe at Instant Pot Eats is great because the chicken cooks quickly in the Instant Pot, then you wrap them and set aside until dinnertime. Make extras, because the leftovers are great for lunches! I store mine in these clear food storage boxes so my kids can always see what’s in them.
Related: 8 fresh summer pasta salads to help you get creative when you’re tired of pasta salad
A Pasta Wednesday meal
I crave lighter meals during the summer, and it’s totally possible to go light with pasta. In fact, we shared some of our favorite ways to DIY pasta salad for dinner, with light sauces and add-in ingredients. Or, cook from a recipe like this delicious-looking spicy tomato and shrimp pasta at Serving Dumplings. The lighter, spicy sauce and grilled shrimp makes this a perfect pasta dish for summer.
Kitchen gear tip: if you don’t already have a wok, this is the week to get one. You don’t have to save it for Asian recipes only! It will perfectly sear your tofu, you can cook the chicken in it for the enchiladas, and it will give you delicious, crispy shrimp for your pasta. Plus, it’s like adding an extra burner to your stove. My mother-in-law got me this Breville electric wok for Christmas years ago, and I use it about once a week. It cleans so easily and still looks like new. In fact, it’s been a dinner-saver many times for my big family of six.
A Burger Thursday meal
You can switch up your burger night throughout the summer, to try turkey burgers, chicken burgers, and even a California Burger Bowl at Amee’s Savory Dish. I’ll do jerk chicken burgers and even a salmon burger one week. But to kick off summer, I’m going all in this week with these incredible Ultimate Double Cheeseburgers at Kitchen Sanctuary (even if I make mine a single burger, haha). This looks so tasty, and I know it will be a hit with my teenagers. And since the burger sauce is made from 3 ingredients I already have on hand, this will be easy to grill up with Impossible Burgers for my vegan family members.
A Grill Friday meal
Since my family also love pizza with a movie on Friday nights, I’m going to try Jane’s tricks for grilling pizza outside this week before we stream In the Heights together. Everyone can use their favorite toppings (all these ideas are great!) and making these on the grill will be so much more fun for the kids than baking them in the oven, like normal.
Don’t you love a recipe that gives you a great meal and fun family time together, too? Whoo!