A Week of Easy, Family-Friendly Comfort Food that You Can Prep on Sunday
Are you trying to figure out what to cook this week? Me too. We’re in such a strange time of more constraints around our shopping, our budgets, and our time. So each of us Kitchn editors is taking a turn sharing what we’re cooking. For this week, I pulled together a meal plan that is typical for weeks when I want easy, kid-friendly comfort food that is relatively hands-off during the week. From a slow cooker bolognese to old-school pizza pinwheels (my kids LOVE these!) to our new standby, hummus bowls, this is easy comfort cooking for right now.
I am like many of you in that I have a small household of four (my kids are four and two). My husband and I have busy jobs and we’re both working from home. So I am looking for meals that really don’t require me to cook, in a hands-on way, every single night. I am giving you five nights of meals, but also a short plan for Sunday prep in case you want to knock a lot out on the weekend.
I know this column usually just gives you a week of meals, one recipe a night, but I just don’t have time to cook every night right now. Here’s how I’ll prep most of this week’s meal plan in a couple hours on Sunday.
- Make the bolognese sauce: I’ll make the bolognese up-front and store in the fridge. It gets better as it sits anyway!
- Make the braised coconut spinach and chickpeas: I’ll also make this ahead.
- Stir up no-knead bread dough for the pinwheels: The pizza pinwheels call for pizza or bread dough. If you want to make dough yourself, just make a batch of no-knead bread dough (it takes like 3 minutes) and stash it in the fridge in a covered bowl until Wednesday. It will be perfect and ready to use.
- Cook pasta: Now if I wanted to really get ahead, I might also cook a pound of pasta for eating on Monday with the bolognese. I’d also plan to toss it with a little olive oil before refrigerating.
Now for a couple extras to make the week even more hands-off:
- Extra – Make hummus from scratch: If I don’t want to buy hummus at the store and have the supplies around I might make hummus from scratch.
- Extra – Make a veggie side dish: If I had extra time I might also make a big double batch of Garlicky Roasted Broccoli for an easy veggie side dish to eat throughout the week.
Monday: Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
This slow cooker recipe is a classic here at Kitchn. I love how silky the texture is. It’s also a good use for ground beef in the freezer. It has a long ingredient list but don’t get hung up if you’re missing anything: I left out the wine and the tomato paste. (Just add more milk or some broth or water to substitute in for the wine.) Make this ahead on Sunday, if you can. Even my kids will eat this! (Or at least the plain pasta. Hmmph.)
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Leftovers Plan: This makes enough for a night of dinner, a lunch or two, and then you use the rest of the sauce to fill the pizza pinwheels.
Tuesday: Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
This is truly the ultimate pantry meal, and one of my own personal favorite recipes. It requires coconut milk, one can of chickpeas, and spinach (ideally fresh, but frozen is totally good too!). Pump up the flavor with sun-dried tomatoes, ginger, and lemon (or leave any of these out if you don’t have them; amp up the acidity with a splash of vinegar or some salt instead). It’s flexible and great for lunches throughout the week. (My kids aren’t so into this, although the two-year-old might eat a bit. On this night I am probably feeding my kids leftover pasta or popcorn shrimp from the freezer.)
Get the recipe: Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
Leftovers Plan: This is a great dinner to stretch into light lunches the rest of the week. You can also top the hummus bowls on Thursday with leftover coconut and spinach sauce.
Wednesday: Cheesy Pizza Pinwheels
I live in Ohio and I think of pizza rolls as the ultimate Midwest family meal. They are also a great way to use up any leftovers. Tonight, I will grab pizza dough from freezer or that no-knead dough I made on Sunday, pat it out with some flour, and then use the the rest of the bolognese sauce to fill the rolls, along with some shredded mozzarella (or even cheddar!). Bake up and dig in; my kids love these.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Pizza Pinwheels
Leftovers Plan: There probably will be no leftovers, or if there are my husband will gobble one for breakfast tomorrow.
Thursday: Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl
So consider this your reminder that you can take a break from starches like rice and pasta for your pantry meals. Hummus (still easily available at least at my grocery store or easy to make yourself) is a refreshing and protein-stacked base for a bowl of dinner. You can follow the recipe below and roast some frozen vegetables to top the bowl, or top it with any leftover scraps, like the bolognese, chickpea and coconut sauce, chopped chicken or any other veggies. My two-year-old is SUPER into hummus right now so she will eat this, the other one can have PB&J.
Get the recipe: Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl
Friday: One-Pot Puttanesca Pasta
We’ve made it to Friday! This is one-pot pasta (also known as: That Magic Trick You Can Do with Pasta and a Pot). I love this puttanesca pasta that relies on pantry-stable items like capers but you do you and pick any one-pot pasta you like from the list below. And if the weather is nice: eat outside on your porch or stoop; everything tastes better outside right now.
Get the recipe: One-Pot Puttanesca Pasta (Plus 4 More One-Pot Pastas)
Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But we’re firm believers that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. We want to help you find inspiration and ease some of the pain points that come with getting dinner on the table night after night, whether you’re cooking for one or a family of five. Every week we share a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests or from a guest contributor, for Next Week’s Meal Plan!