Easy weeknight meals seem to be exactly what’s called for right now whether school has started for your kids or not. It seems a bit surreal that we are cruising right into the last week of August, and I think I can speak for everyone when I paraphrase the Dead to say, “what a long strange year it’s been.”

Like many parents, the anxiety surrounding back to school has been weighing heavy on me recently, and one tool I use to manage my stress is to make lists and plan.

So after making sure we have all of our fall necessities and the pantry is prepped for lunches for the week ahead, my mind turns to meal planning.

I have not always been a meal planner, and for many years I was hitting the grocery store every afternoon trying to figure out what to cook. Not only was that super stressful, it was hard on my bank account. Now I set aside time on Sunday to write out a plan, make a shopping list on my AnyList app and stick to it.

Next week, I am planning out some of our favorites that don’t require a ton of prep time so I can maybe fit in a little self-care meditation too.

Top Image: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce from SmittenKitchen and 5-Ingredient Fried Chicken Sandwiches Recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt on Serious Eats

This post contains affiliate links and sales may generate a small commission to support our work at no additional cost to you. 

Weekly Meal Plan: Angell Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce from SmittenKitchen

I have a ton of tomatoes in my garden that are just turning beautifully ripe and they are calling to be used in this recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce from SmittenKitchen. Late August is a magical time for tomatoes and if you don’t have a garden yourself, keep your eye out for them at your local market or farmer’s market. I love this recipe because you don’t have to spend hours over the stove. But as Deb recommends, letting the sauce marinate a bit at room temperature really does up the flavor – so if you have the time, throw it all together earlier in the day and let it sit while you do all the after-school things.

Weekly Meal Plan Ideas: Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos from TheRealFoodRDs

I have shared these Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos from The Real Food RDs in a previous Meal Plan as a delicious twist for Taco Tuesday. Make it easy on yourself and use your favorite bag of sweet potato chips. You can use any ingredients you have on hand. Recently, I have added ground chicken breast with a quick homemade taco seasoning for a bit more protein, which is a huge hit with my hungry teens.

Also see: 7 amazing nacho recipe variations

Weekly Meal Plan Ideas: Coconut Shrimp from Spook Fork Bacon

A bag of frozen shrimp is a good staple to keep in your freezer. Not only is shrimp is a great source of vitamins D and B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and protein, it defrosts quickly and can be used in a number of delicious recipes, like these Coconut Shrimp with Mango Salsa from Spoon Fork Bacon. You will want to let these little guys chill for about an hour in the fridge before you bake them, so plan ahead. I added some chopped fresh pineapple to the mango salsa and served with a side of coconut rice. It felt like a little tropical vacation – ha.

Also see: 8 family friendly recipes using frozen shrimp

Weekly Meal Plan Ideas: Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni from Kelsey Smith

I often write about my love-love relationship with my Instant Pot; Kristen has even become an Instant Pot convert. (I shared my new Instant Pot Pro 10 in 1 upgrade in last week’s meal plan and it’s still making me very happy!). And it’s easy to understand why with recipes like this Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni by Kelsey Smith. If you loved Hamburger Helper as a kid (me), but haven’t actually fed it to your own kids because of you can read labels now (also me), then this recipe is a must try. Not only does dinner come together in less than 30 minutes, it is the ultimate comfort food.

 Also See: A whole week of meals made in the Instant Pot

Weekly Meal Plan Ideas:5 Ingredient Fried Chicken Sandwiches Recipe from SeriousEats

I have been craving a good fried chicken sandwich for a few weeks now (see also back to school anxiety), but get a bit stressed about making them when I see the long list of ingredients most recipes call for. So I was super excited to find this recipe on Serious Eats for 5-Ingredient Fried Chicken Sandwiches Recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt. Just FIVE ingredients and pickle brine (IYKYK) means this is a new Friday-friendly meal the whole family will love.

Related: 12 Creative Ideas for how to use up leftover pickle juice


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

I really do 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. Because sharing is caring <wink> – Lisa