Have you tried meal planning before and given up? Maybe you found it time consuming, overwhelming, and frustrating. Did it seem more complicated than you expected it to be?
I’m here to help!
One of the biggest mistakes made in meal planning is overcomplicating your menu. You’ll be much more successful if you keep it simple. The goal is to plan realistic meals that fit your family’s schedule, taste preferences, time constraints, and your cooking style.
There are seven easy dinner types I use as regular inspiration in meal planning. They fit a wide variety of styles, are easy to prepare, and I think they’ll work for your family, too.
7 Easy Dinner Ideas for Your Weekly Meal Plan
Soup and Sandwiches
You can’t get much simpler than heating up a can of soup and making a sandwich. It’s a complete, filling meal with absolutely no fuss. Your soup and sandwich combination can be anything from kid-pleasing alphabet soup and grilled cheese to a more sophisticated Minestrone soup with roast beef and swiss. There are numerable dinner possibilities in this dinner type alone!
Breakfast for Dinner
I don’t think my kids get more excited for any dinner than when I announce we’re having pancakes. Add sausage and bacon on the side, and they almost can’t contain their excitement. There are plenty of other breakfast options, too including grits, hashbrowns, waffles, toast, biscuits and gravy, omelettes, and so much more. These foods are quick to prepare and make great options for busy weeknight dinners.
Crock Pot Meals
Plan to use your crockpot at least once every week. It is so nice to come home at the end of a busy day and smell dinner as soon as you walk in. Check out some of my favorite crock pot recipes. You can also find great crockpot recipes on Pinterest.
Protein + Starch + Vegetable
Think of this dinner type as a formula. There are so many possibilities! Choose any protein: chicken, beef, fish, beans, pork, turkey, tuna, shrimp…you get the idea. Then select a starch (potatoes, rice, orzo, pasta, stuffing, sweet potatoes and more) and add a veggie. So many instant dinner ideas!
There are two things I love about casseroles. First, they can be made ahead of time. Assemble the casserole, cover and store in the refrigerator or freezer until time for cooking. Another reason I love casseroles is that while it’s in the oven I can work on something else like cleaning the kitchen, starting laundry or just relaxing a while.
Soups and Stews
Soup and stew recipes can be elaborate or simple, hearty or light, hot or cold. They can be made stovetop or simmer all day in a crockpot. You can check out some of my favorite Soup and Stew recipes here. (Check back often, I’m always adding more.) Plus, one pot dinners make after dinner clean up a breeze.
During the hot summer months we often have salad for dinner. Plan to grill a few extra chicken breasts early in the week, and you can use them in a salad a couple of days later. Other meats that work well in salads are pork, steak and salmon. If you plan it right, you can have a night off from cooking and a delicious healthy meal at home, totally guilt-free!
The next time you sit down to create a weekly meal plan, think of these seven dinner types: Soup and Sandwiches, Breakfast for Dinner, Crockpot Meals, Protein + Starch + Vegetable, Casseroles, Soups and Stews, and Salad. You could choose one of each dinner type and have your entire week of meals done!
Need more meal planning inspiration?
Follow these 8 Simple Steps to a Weekly Meal Plan. These steps will help you save time and money as you plan your meals.
And don’t forget to sign up for email updates from Finding Time To Fly! Printable Weekly Meal Planners are my gift to you when you sign up! They’ll make it so easy to keep your dinner plans and grocery list organized.