Two Week Meal Plan for Busy Families
Guys. I have promised a post like this for a while and life has gotten away from me. I’ll jump right in because I can’t stand recipe posts which have paragraphs of goodness-knows-what before they tell you how to make the dish. I do have a few caveats though.
First, I am calling this a meal plan, but it’s certainly not as detailed as most food bloggers’ meal plans. I could make this totally integrated plan using nothing prepared and planning out the multi-use of clean meats and vegetables in 10 different recipes. I’m sure I would have done that 4 years ago as a blogger before I landed a 65 hour/week job with a three year old and a husband who travels for a week out of each month. I’m sure you relate more with the latter. You’re busy, I’m busy, we need meals which are simple, quick, good for you, and don’t take all of my my remaining brainpower in the evening. I do my ten meals from Sunday through Thursday. We do pizza on Friday and eat out on Saturday. You can use these two nights any day of the week as flex nights.
Second, I probably would have planned the cadence of meals a little better had I planned this meal plan share at all. I arrived home from the grocery store and looked at all of my food and people had been asking me to blog about this and I just thought, “huh, I’ll just share this on social”. So this wasn’t planned well, but again, I’m not a blogger anymore. I’m just a working parent who is trying to feed her family. The second week is too loaded with red meat, I forgot I had a work dinner mid-week, and there may be one too many pasta dishes. BUT the flexibility of this meal plan works through all of those hiccups. And that is part of the beauty of it. You can swap one meal for another and as long as you’re using the fresh food first, hell, just keep stuff in the freezer until you need it.
Ok, I said I wouldn’t blab. Here is the plan for two weeks of dinners with shopping list and recipes where needed.
- Green Beans – Steam in Bag
- Broccoli – Steam in Bag x 2
- Bag of Baby Spinach
- Pre-cut Mirepoix (chopped carrots, onion, celery)
- Quart of Cherry Tomatoes
- Bag of Red Potatoes
- One Lemon
- Bag of Baby Carrots
- Apples (1 for dinner, more for lunches)
- 1 Onion
- 32 oz Latin Style Black Bean Soup
- 32 oz Chicken Stock
- 14.5 oz cans of black beans x 2
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes x 3
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 14.5 oz can of kidney beans
- 14.5 oz can of cannellini beans
- Jar of tomato-less corn salsa
- Jar of capers
- Large jar of marinara sauce
- Jar of masala simmer sauce
- Frozen chicken thighs
- Pork bratwurst
- 1 lb ground beef x 2
- 1 bag frozen turkey meatballs
- Preseasoned pork loin
- 1 lb salmon
- Pre-cooked pork carnitas
- Frozen brown rice packets
- Frozen peas
- Dry pesto tortellini
- 1 bag of pasta of your choice (for meatballs)
- 1 bag of Rigatoni
- 1 bag of Spaghetti
- White Rice
- Sub/Hero bread
- Block of parmesan cheese
With all of these items, I was able to make 10 meals. Those 10 meals also provided leftover lunches and ingredients for other meals. I have all of the meals on my highlights so you can always go back and reference there as well. I also bought a bunch of stuff for breakfasts, snacks, and toddler lunches, and I’ll build out the post with those things soon – but first, dinners.
Dinner #1 – Carinita & Black Bean Stew
The first dinner is one of my favorite meals ever. Not lying. That’s why I made this on night one even though it’s super fast and full of ingredients that would have lasted weeks in the pantry/fridge and I should have saved for the last night. All ingredients are from Trader Joes although you may be able to find these at another store. Regardless, It’s as easy as this:
- Fully Cooked Carnitas
- Tomato-less Corn Salsa
- Latin Style Black Bean Soup
- Black Beans
Shred carnitas. Empty carnitas and black bean soup into a pot. Add half of the can of black beans and 1/2 of the jar or corn salsa. Save the other 1/2 for chili on night #9. Heat to a bubbling simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
Dinner #2 – Tomato Caper Salmon with Brown Rice and Green Beans
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and it’s another one we make almost weekly. It’s a bit more involved than the others, so click through to the full recipe here. If you follow the recipe, it makes enough for 4 servings with some green beans left over for toddler lunches. I also buy a quart of cherry tomatoes, use half for this recipe and the other half for breakfast omelets and lunch side dishes.
Dinner #3 – Pork Tenderloin with New Potatoes and Broccoli
There is no real recipe here, I just roast the pre-seasoned pork and cubed potatoes then serve alongside broccoli that is steamed in the bag. But, the meal makes enough for leftovers and then some. I use the cubed potatoes with scrambled eggs, cheese, and salsa wrapped in a tortilla for breakfast. I also use the leftover broccoli in omelets (with aforementioned tomatoes).
Dinner #4 – Tortellini Soup
This is another one from my MIL. She’s a fabulous cook and always has interesting and innovative ideas. She’s actually so great at using things until they’re completely gone that she’ll definitely show up at your house with a half eaten crab ball 3 days after Christmas and think that is totally ok. Ok, for the soup recipe – it’s right here.
Dinner #5 – Spaghetti and Meatballs
Another non-recipe recipe. I love these Turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s. They’ve got a great spice and heat up wonderfully for your lunch. I always bake them on a foil-lined baking sheet to make clean up easy. And guess what? On day two, they make an exquisite meatball sub. Just use your sub bread and top with parmesan.
Dinner #6 – Rigatoni with Beef Bolognese
Bolognese is one of those things that you wish you knew how to make, but you don’t. Until now. My sister made this when I was pregnant with Maeve and froze dinner-sized portions. It made our first weeks as parents very manageable.
Not only is this recipe easy, but it’s very very good. It takes a little while, which is why I make it on a Sunday night, but it’s fairly hands-off. To make it as easy as possible, I use a pre-chopped mirepoix. Full disclosure, I do pulse the mirepoix in my blender quickly to chop it a bit finer, but you certainly don’t have to. You can get the full recipe here!
Dinner #7 – Bavarian Sausage with Carrot, Apple, and Onion
I admitted on IG that this recipe seems odd, but please trust me on this one. It’s good, it’s hearty, and it’s cozy. The recipe is very simple, so I’ll keep it here in this post…
- Bavarian style sausage (precooked)
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 medium apple
Cut the apple into about 16 wedges. Do the same with the onion. Cut the sausage into large chunks similar in size to the apple and onion. Toss apple, onion, sausage, and carrots on a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp dried thyme. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Divide between 4 dinner plates, or fewer and save the rest for lunch – you’ll want it!
Dinner #8 – Chicken Tikka Masala
Ok, so not really a recipe. But also a meal that you may be intimidated to make at home. Don’t be, it’s surprisingly simple to get a good store bought tikka. Although my favorite tikka sauce is this one, I will use the TJ’s sauce if that’s where I’m shopping. I just roast the frozen chicken in a foil packet for 38 minutes at 350 degrees. Then I shred the chicken and add it to a sauce pot with the tikka sauce. Meanwhile, make jasmine rice. I love serving this meal with samosas… complete transparency, I also eat samosas by themselves on most nights that Matt is traveling… they’re amazing with red wine! I get my favorite brand – Tandoor Chef – at Whole Foods.
Dinner #9 – Chili
Disclaimer – I forgot the kidney beans in this photo… and then my week got a little out of control and I wasn’t able to re-take the photo… sorry!
Ok. I’m sure you have a great chili recipe that you love, but I love mine too! It’s super easy. Brown the beef. Sprinkle the beef with 1/2 of the spice packet (or just 1/4 if your family is spice sensitive). Then add the canned tomatoes, leftover 1/2 jar corn salsa from Dinner #1, drained and rinsed cannellini beans, leftover 1/2 can of black beans from Dinner #1, and kidney beans. I also rinse out all cans with a bit of water and pour into the pot to give it a little more liquid. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for at least 20 minutes, 40 minutes if you have it.
I like to serve this with one of those $0.99 boxes of Jiffy corn bread muffins. Maeve loves to help make them, which is an exercise in being less controlling for me. Ha.
Dinner #10 – Spaghetti Carbonara
I spoke about this in my IG post, but this is also one of our family go-to’s. It’s also fun because Matt and I are both very very well versed at this receipt and have a friendly competition going for who can really nail the receipt. We also like to eat carbonara in Italian restaurants and try to see if we can get close. We were getting pretty cocky with our carbonara until we went to Maialino in New York and had the carbonara there…. There is literally no comparison state-side. I’ll continue to try and get closer, but until then, get my full recipe here.
Well, That is it. Whew. I’ll be adding onto this post and tweaking it over the coming months, but wanted to get it up for those of you who want to use it!
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