As much as I adore meal planning, I'm a very reluctant meal prepper. Preparing our dinners for the week over the weekend feels a little too much like locking our meal plan in place forever without flexibility. But we have a big family change on the horizon — my husband is going back to school full-time next month — and we need to figure out a better system for prepping breakfasts and lunches.
This week's five dinners all require very little prep work — although they are still easy family favorites. Win-win!
Welcome to This Week's Meal Plan
I believe meal planning is the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. Since I'm frequently asked by friends and family what I'm cooking for dinner each week, I 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: Broccoli and Cheese Risotto
Think risotto takes too long for a Monday night? This cheesy broccoli version will totally prove you wrong. Plus, it's just as comforting as broccoli mac and cheese but only takes one pan. Pro tip: Buy bagged (even frozen broccoli) to help this come together even faster. We will have a simple green salad and sliced fruit on the side.
Tuesday: Easy Skillet Tamale Pie
This skillet pie is almost like super-easy shepherd's pie — there's a quick-cooking filling and an easy crust that bakes right on top of the filling. The skillet is so packed with veggies I won't worry about serving any on the side, but I will offer up extra yogurt (there's some in the crust) for topping our bowls, and sliced fruit for my kids.
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Sandwiches
Why yes, these sandwiches have appeared on several meal plans this year — and for good reason! They use up those chicken thighs or breasts in your freezer, and the vegetable side is just a dressed-up prepared slaw. If you're really crammed for prep time this week, you can skip the DIY ranch seasoning for these and use an envelope of the store-bought ranch dip flavoring instead.
Thursday: How To Make Potatoes in the Instant Pot with Ranch Leftovers
Aren't baked potatoes the best for leftovers? Thursday we're topping our baked potatoes with leftover chicken, bacon, and slaw from last night plus some cheese and yogurt from Tuesday's dinner.
I am 100% planning on us riding our bikes to our local pizza joint on Friday. It's going to be a long week and I want to have the energy to meal prep next weekend too. But Shutterbean's Tracy Benjamin recently told me this great meal prep tip: She always orders extra pizza and freezes it for future quick dinners or lunches. That might be the easiest frozen pizza prep ever!
Read more: The Best Way to Reheat a Slice of Pizza