Before long I’m sure my sweet blonde baby will be asking, “Momma, what’s for dinner?” and in just a few days it is time for us to settle back in to our school routine. Summer is carefree and poor planning. Frosted flakes for dinner after I put the cherub to bed and lots of pb&js for him on his picnic table outside.
I do my best to relax during the summer, including my lack of dinner planning.
Sadly, that time has come to an end. The beautiful relaxing mornings will fade away come Friday and it will be back to strict bedtime routines, mornings before the sun comes up, and dinner on the table by 5.
How do I do it?
Meal planning and prep.
It’s not your Whole 30 Super Healthy kind of meal planning. It’s just meal planning to avoid the question, “What’s for dinner?” and (added bonus) to simplify grocery shopping every week.
Each week I order my groceries from Walmart Pick-Up and it saves us a lot of money. I usually pick up on Thursday’s on our way home from work and I get our groceries for the following week.
My biggest tips for meal planning would have to be:
- Plan out your meals for the month in advance if you can, but if that seems like too much….go for one week at a time. That is truthfully how I started out meal planning over a year ago.
- Store snack items in a special spot in the fridge. We have a drawer full of applesauce, yogurts, and cheesesticks.
- Grocery shop once a week and I highly recommend Walmart’s Pick-Up if you’re from our area. I’ve had no problems with it and can’t say enough amazing things about how it saves my life (and sanity). You can get $10 off multiple times by sharing a code.
- Shop for pantry and bulk items with Amazon so they arrive on your porch for FREE or make a monthly Sam’s Club trip.
- Take care of prepping for your meals as you unpack your groceries (marinate, chop, etc.)(
- Keep a running grocery list on your phone and immediately add things when you’re running low. I like to use Google Keep for my notes on my phone.
- Look for a creative way to use a meal multiple times. For example, I like to make chicken tacos on a Monday. Then, on Thursday I use the leftovers to make quesadillas.
My friends have often asked me how I come up with so many meal ideas to fill up a monthly calendar. Honestly, I have more than a months worth but so many meals feel like they only are fit to eat in the winter and same goes for summer.
Here are the list of meals I keep in my find for when I sit down to meal plan:
- Ham and Cheese sliders (I love to make these the day before and then just bake them after work the next day. They also are great as leftover so make plenty so you have some!)
- Beef Tacos
- Chicken tacos – Super easy crockpot meal. Frozen chicken breasts, salsa, taco seasoning. Cook on low all day and come home to dinner! I eat with taco shells or fritos!
- Salmon and rice – I usually do butter and lemon pepper seasoning with my salmon.
- Roast, mashed potatoes, corn – Super easy crockpot meal
- French dips – Another easy crockpot meal
- Lasagna – I love to split this recipe up into two 9×9 pans and then freeze one for the next time!
- Fajitas – I love the oven baked fajitas. It takes about 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake.
- Steak with grilled veggies
- Pork BBQ – This is one that Mike usually takes care of. He smokes it and we have enough for 3-4 meals.
- Chili – More of a winter meal
- Homemade pizza – I like to use leftover pork bbq and make a bbq pizza!
- Vegetable beef soup – I like this one for a Sunday because it requires more prep. It does, however, make a ton of leftovers which is great for the week.
- Grilled or baked pork chops
- Chicken noodle soup
- Grilled chicken – I like to marinade in ranch or italian dressing all day.
- Buffalo chicken sliders, or wraps, or just dip!
- Chicken fried rice
- Fried Chicken (my speciality….just like momma made)
- Beef stew
- Salmon patties
- Baked pesto stuffed chicken (Pinterest!)
- chicken fingers and fries (for those nights you just simply can’t cook)
- grilled cheese and soup of choice
- Quesadillas – We have a little maker….amazing!
- Breakfast – waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches….this is a family favorite because we often don’t even get a big breakfast on the weekends
- Beef and noodles – crockpot!
- Ribs – Mike handles this one on the smoker!
- Smoked sausage
- Cubed steak
- Parmesan Herb Salmon
- Butter Chicken – Sooooo yummmmy…..newest favorite from Pinterest
- Lemon chicken Piccata
- Chicken and broccoli stir fry
- Pork fritters (yes, frozen ones in a yellow/blue box and don’t hate)
- Garlic shrimp and pasta
When I meal plan, I don’t really consider sides. I have enough sides stocked in the fridge or pantry. I keep vegetables and potatoes or rice on hand always. I just like to wait and see what sounds good. We are creatures of habit and do tend to eat the same things with each meal.
I hope this has helped some of you who struggle with the question, “What’s for dinner?”
I suggest starting small with a weekly plan and build from there! If you’d like specific recipes for any of my meals above don’t hesitate to ask! I’d love to share.