It’s been a busy week at my house: kids coming and going, appointments, schooling…my energy level for cooking has been (ahem) low. In fact, I’m currently testing different, exciting ways to tell my family, “Leftovers, again!”
So, with that in mind I’ve looked up some quick and easy weekly meal plan ideas this week. These are ready in around 30 minutes, they have steps my kids can help with to take some of the load off, and they can be prepped or even fully cooked ahead of time so dinner is a breeze.
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Related: Our weekly meal plan ideas archive
I’m going to start the week with this easy chicken alfredo baked ziti at Gimme Some Oven, because it is so comforting and delicious. But I’ll double the chicken when I cook, because we’ll use the leftovers in the salad later this week. If you’re doing #MeatlessMonday, you could easily substitute veggies like broccoli or peppers for the chicken.
Prep this one early in the day and then just stick it in the oven when it’s time for dinner, and get your kids involved by having them be my appointed “whisk-ers” on the Alfredo sauce or even looking at some of the variations Ali suggests (like extra veggies, Cajun ingredients, and more) to see if any of those look yummy to them.
A quick-and-easy favorite at our house is the BBQ Chicken Salad at Damn Delicious. It’s extra easy on nights when you have leftover chicken on hand, but even if you don’t it only takes a few minutes to grill the chicken breasts (or even some frozen chicken tenders…or tofu, for the vegetarians). My kids would probably prefer to eat their ingredients separately, rather than as a salad. And that’s totally fine by me. In fact, I’ll give them some chips and salsa to go with it.
I love the flavors and textures in stuffed peppers, but they can be kind of annoying to prepare. Mine always always tip over in the oven. So when I discovered From Valerie’s Kitchen’s recipe for a stuffed pepper skillet bake I knew I’d add it to this week’s rotation. My kids will get busy with all the measuring and pouring while I chop the peppers and brown the ground beef, or in my family’s case… Impossible plant-based ground.
You’ll need a large skillet for this dish, because the whole thing cooks in the one pan, which makes cleanup so easy. I’m not sure I can properly convey how much I love my Staub cookware, and their perfect pan is the, well, perfect pan for this dish…and several other of this week’s meal plan ideas.
If you haven’t ever made Cafe Delite’s slow cooker barbacoa before…OMG. It is soooo good. The chipotle and lime and barbecue all meld together during those long hours in the slow cooker, while you literally do no work. Only downside is that your kitchen will smell so delicious all afternoon you’re going to want to eat way more of this than you should.
Also, if you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t worry! You can also cook this in a cast iron pan (like the Perfect Pan, above) in the oven to get the same results.
Related: 10 slow cooker dinner recipes
It may be getting a bit chilly to grill, so try these vegan Korean BBQ sliders at Killing Thyme instead that come together in just 30 minutes. Do the chopping ahead of time (or buy a pre-chopped slaw mix), and have your kids mix up the slaw recipe while you work on the jackfruit over the stovetop…on your perfect pan, if you bought one.
If you haven’t served your kids jackfruit before, do not be afraid. It is really close to chicken in texture, and it doesn’t have much taste on its own. It really takes on the flavor of the sauce you use.
Follow our Weekly Meal Plan Ideas for Families board on Pinterest @CoolMomEats for even more ideas!