Instead of spending my Friday night meal planning, cocktail in hand, I made a Trader Joe's run. To be honest, I went for peonies and to get out of the house by myself, as my husband has been out of town for the last few weeks. I walked out $100 poorer and peony-less (they were out). What I did gain was a freezer full of shortcuts to get me through another 10 days of solo parenting while my husband is gone again.
This week's meal plan is inspired by some freezer shortcuts that I stocked up on at Trader Joe's, but none of the recipes here require TJ's-specific ingredients — many of these shortcuts can be found at any store. Plus these meals still make the most of summer produce while making dinnertime faster.
Welcome to This Week's Meal Plan
Planning my weekly meals is a habit I enjoy. Since I'm frequently asked by friends and family what I'm cooking for dinner each week, I thought it'd be useful to share my weekly meal plan here. Whether you're just learning to meal plan and looking for a real-life example of how this works or you're an old pro on the hunt for inspiration, here's a peek at how I'm feeding my family this week.
New to meal planning? Start here.
Monday: Potsticker Stir-Fry
Can we just talk about how ingenious this recipe is for a minute? Potsticker stir-fry takes advantage of frozen potstickers or dumplings and turns them into something totally original. This recipe uses one pan and comes together in under 30 minutes. My children are in love with potstickers and stir-fried vegetables, so this will go over well with them. Note that the recipe serves two adults as written, but it will serve me and my two preschoolers just fine.
Tuesday: Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
Riffing on taco Tuesday with the most shortcut-filled dinner of the week. I'm planning to make this Tex-Mex quinoa salad with frozen cooked quinoa, frozen corn, and canned black beans. Tortilla chips will turn this salad into a "dip" for my kids. I'm counting on the leftovers for both lunch boxes and office lunch for the next day.
Wednesday: Pork Tenderloin with Barley and Tomato Salad
I have leftover grilled pork tenderloin from the weekend that we need to eat up, and a bag of Trader Joe's 10-minute barley to cook up. I'll skip the corn called for in this salad (last night's dinner has corn too) and add some chopped raw zucchini instead.
Thursday: Summer Vegetables Sandwich
Thursday evening we are meeting family friends in the park for a picnic and playdate. I'm packing these vegetable sub sandwiches with garlic cream cheese because they are delicious and use both fresh and jarred vegetables to come together quickly. To make this process even faster, grab some garlic cream cheese rather than making your own.
Friday: Turkey Burgers
The kids will have had their Friday pizza at camp for lunch, so our usually easy weekend routine has morphed into burger Fridays. Full disclosure: I'm cooking up some Trader Joe's turkey burgers and potato tots for dinner, making the most of my freezer shortcuts to wrap up the week.