We’ve Been Home for 1 Year: These Were the 10 Most Helpful Meals Plans Along the Way
It’s safe to say that over the past year, most of us have been cooking at home more than ever before. We were meal planning long before the pandemic hit, but it’s a task that’s proved especially helpful this past year — even if it meant jotting down a loose dinner idea or two before stepping into the kitchen.
Last March and April we were leaning on dinners that were easy, made smart use of pantry staples, and flexible enough to make with whatever ingredients we had on hand. As spring and summer went on, it was clear many of use were tired of cooking and wanted impossibly easy meals that were still doable on those nights we simply had no energy for cooking. We also looked to dinners that provided comfort, be it a meal that came with lots of nostalgia and happy memories or simply a pot of creamy pasta.
Here are our most popular meal plans readers have been leaning on throughout the pandemic, and are still cooking from today.
1. How I Prep a Week of High-Protein Plant-Based Meals in Just 1 Hour
This one-week plan, grounded in pantry staples, is proof that if you’re trying to eat a high-protein diet that also happens to be plant-based, it’s easier to meet the goal than you might think. Get ready for meals like tomato-braised lentils, BBQ tofu bowls, smashed chickpea salad sandwiches, and more. An hour of upfront meal prep sets you up with breakfast and lunches, and takes care of the chopping and slicing for the rest of the week.
Get the plan: How I Prep a Week of High-Protein Plant-Based Meals in Just 1 Hour
2. How I Prep a Week of High-Protein Vegetarian Meals in Under 2 Hours
If you follow a vegetarian diet, but struggle to find meals that satisfy, this plan offers the assist you need. With meals like a breakfast burrito-inspired casserole, plant-based Bolognese, lentil salad, and tofu soba noodle bowls, this week’s meal plan fills your table with vegetarian meals that promise to be filling and totally satisfying.
Get the plan: How I Prep a Week of High-Protein Vegetarian Meals in Under 2 Hours
3. A Week of Impossibly Easy 3-Ingredient Dinners
Over the past year a lot of us had moments (perhaps many of them!), when we were just plain tired of cooking. One winning solution? Stack your dinner roster with meals that require just three ingredients. This is a plan I’ve come back to again and again (and again this week!).
Get the plan: A Week of Impossibly Easy 3-Ingredient Dinners
4. A Week of Lazy Summer Dinners Because I Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking
Even on the nights you really don’t feel like cooking, these fresh and summery dinners are totally doable. I lived on this meal plan for a good part of last summer, so I tell you from experience. From Mediterranean tuna salad to chicken fajita packets, these meals are ridiculously simple to pull off and require minimal prep and the fewest amount of dirty dishes possible.
Get the plan: A Week of Lazy Summer Dinners Because I Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking
5. A Week of Lazy Family Dinners — Because I’m Tired of Cooking
The slow cooker, sheet pans, and a grocery store shortcut are the heroes of these low-effort, family-friendly dinners. They make for easy dinners that feed the whole table, while keeping the prep and cleanup to a minimum.
Get the plan: A Week of Lazy Family Dinners — Because I’m Tired of Cooking
6. A Week of Plant-Based, One-Bowl Meals
Did you hit a point during the past year when you had a serious craving for wholesome, nourishing meals? Preferably ones that happened to also be flexible, can be prepped in advance, and make for really great leftovers? Me too! Those are the times when I turn to one-bowl meals, like roasted vegetable hummus bowls, sweet potato quinoa bowls, and BBQ tofu bowls, loaded with vegetables and plant-based proteins.
Get the plan: A Week of Plant-Based, One-Bowl Meals
7. A Week of Summer-Inspired Mediterranean Diet Dinners
The summer months are when I naturally crave lots of veggies, chilled grain salads, seafood, and grilled chicken — all of which happen to be the stars of this one-week plan, and also right in line with the Mediterranean diet. If you’ve been curious about the Mediterranean diet or just want inspiration to fill your meal plan with fresh and summery feel-good dinners, give this meal plan a try.
Get the plan: A Week of Summer-Inspired Mediterranean Diet Dinners
8. A Week of Big-Batch, Pantry-Friendly Dinners
Starting around this time last year when we all began cooking all meals at home every day, we were all about leaning hard on pantry and freezer items and turning them into big-batch meals that provided ample leftovers to eat for lunches and future dinners.
Get the recipe: A Week of Big-Batch, Pantry-Friendly Dinners
9. A Week of Flexible Family Dinners to Make with What You Have
Whether you’re cooking for a household with varying food preferences or simply trying to make do with the ingredients you have on hand, this meal plan, with a creamy veggie pasta and taco-inspired casserole, will come in handy.
Get the plan: A Week of Flexible Family Dinners to Make with What You Have
10. 5 Easy Dinners That Are Comforting and Summery at the Same Time
No matter what your circumstances were this past year, in addition to wanting to keep cooking simple, I think we all craved comfort from the meals we put on the table. From chicken tacos to broccoli and ricotta pasta to a cheese and veggie frittata, these dinners all deliver.
Get the plan: 5 Easy Dinners That Are Comforting and Summery at the Same Time