Meal Planning Week 8 offers up suggestions for meals on the quick. From one pot meals to 5 and under ingredients, there’s no excuse to order in with these quick tips.
I hope you are enjoying the meal planning series. It has been fun and interesting trying to think of the many ways to help you not only start meal planning, but also save time and money in the process. Of course, I have taken a bit of a break from just about everything lately. Maybe I’ll go into the why on that in another post. Definitely not this one.
You’re armed with a meal plan. On the weekends you have been prepping ingredients like a fiend! But it still takes you way too long to cook dinner when you get home. During this Meal Planning Week 8 try to fix that, shall we? There is no reason that all your hard work on the weekends should be met with struggles on your performance night. Meaning, the night you’re cooking that meal you’ve planned. So, here are some tips and tricks to get dinner on the table lickity split!
One pot or one pan meals for the win!
I am the biggest advocate for one pot or one pan meals. These are not slow cooker or pressure cooker meals. Those are something entirely in my book. I’m talking everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, cooks in one pot. No cooking pasta in one pot and the rest in another. EVERYTHING is cooked in the same pot.
Then there’s sheet pan dinners. I love me a sheet pan dinner. You can toss anything on a sheet pan and put it into the oven for a quick meal. I’ve made chicken fajitas, pork roast, and even chicken Parmesan on a sheet pan. Of course, the Parm required some noodles so that wasn’t exactly a one pan meal.
Cook once and eat a few times.
Yes, I know. I’ve talked about this a few times. Meatballs are an excellent way to cook in bulk and have a quick meal handy in the freezer. Make a double batch and freeze half. No matter the flavor, they are easily turned into fun meatball subs! These would make perfect bahn mi meatball subs with all the pickled veg goodness.
They’re great for sliders. You can slice them up and make some nachos. Add them to soup for a hearty soup for dinner. Dice them up and make a sort of hash with them. Seriously, there are tons of ways to use the extra meatballs you’ve cooked up. My favorite? Slice them up and put them on a pizza.
Make it bite sized!
We all know that a whole chicken breast can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to cook through. So, why not butterfly the breast and have two thin halves to cook? If your breasts are like the one at the store, they’re easily almost a pound a piece. So, splitting them in half to quick cook not only saves time, but saves calories.
Also, cutting the meat into bite sized pieces is a great idea and makes for quick cooking time, too. That’s one of the reasons I love the stir-fry method. You can take that method of quick cooking pieces of meat and vegetables of the same size in a hot pan. Then add whatever sauce and spices you want. I’ve made Tex-Mex stir fry, Cajun style, and even breakfast! Stir-fry doesn’t have to be Asian inspired all the time. Just changes things up and make something fun and quick for your family.
Repurpose leftovers into new dinners
This is something I need to work more on. I do not repurpose our leftovers. Of course, I live with someone that doesn’t like leftovers unless it’s pizza. I mean, seriously, hardly even Chinese take out is eaten except by me. We were raised on leftovers. They were lunch and even sometimes breakfast. I did that a lot when I was in high school. By that time, my sister was gone and I was alone to fend for myself in the breakfast and lunch department most of the time.
Leftover chicken makes for great French bread pizza. Heck, most leftover meats can turn into some kind of pizza or quesadilla. Even tacos! I’ve been known to rock leftovers into a taco just for the sake of having a taco for lunch or dinner. I’ve even turned leftover ham into grilled ham Hawaiian tacos. They are so good! You should try them.
Cook up some fake Out Take Out
With a little prep work, you do not need to order take out on busy week nights. It’s really not any faster waiting for the food to arrive than making it yourself. I have talked myself out of ordering in with this logic on more than one occasion. For us, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for dinner to arrive. In that time, I can have a delicious and healthier meal on the table.
Pasta is always a good go to for dinner. I’m all for a easy linguine with clam sauce. And it will taste better than ordering from a restaurant. Not to mention it’s pantry ingredients for the most part. And is on the table in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta plus 5 minutes for allowing the pasta to sit in the sauce. This is a go to fave in our house.
Have breakfast for dinner
For Meal Planning Week 8 I am telling you it’s okay to have breakfast for dinner. There is nothing more comforting than having breakfast for dinner. And nothing more quick and easy. Am I right? Grab some eggs, make some toast, maybe find those leftover roasted or broiled potatoes to crisp up in the pan. And voila dinner is served!
Of course, you can change up breakfast for dinner a little and try some breakfast tacos. I love those. Or maybe a breakfast pancake grilled cheese with the pancake as the bread. I’ve also served up breakfast potato skins. Those are DELICIOUS! And some breakfast tostadas. An homage to Dad and his Mexican breakfast he used to make on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
You could even serve up some breakfast dessert like an old fashioned coffee cake. Or even have some fun donuts for breakfast for dinner dessert. Just imagine all the fun possibilities with breakfast for dinner.
Make your meals 5 and under
If you want to make dinner really quick and easy, try the 5 and under method. No, I don’t count spices, eggs, and milk. I don’t count things that I think are part of a well-stocked kitchen. However, pasta and beans count. So, the method is try to keep your ingredients to less than 5 and it should make for a quick and easy meal.
For meal planning week 8, try some Stir-fry recipes. They are great for 5 and under meals. Grilled anything is good unless you’re marinating the meat. Kabobs! They’re my fave few ingredient quick meals. Not to mention many pasta recipes especially if have a jar of sauce on hand. Spaghetti with meat sauce is a go to fave here. Pasta, ground beef, and a jar of sauce. Voila!
Also, carbonara! It’s essentially eggs, cheese, and pasta. Not traditionally cream because the sauce is made with the pasta water. However, I like the additional of cream, so I usually some in there. Still keeps the ingredients under 5.
Use a pressure cooker or slow cooker
I cannot stress how much I love my multi cooker. It stays on the counter all the time. I’m not going to call it an InstantPot because that’s a brand. I have a Foodi. And I love it! Best investment I made with blog money this year. It pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautés, roasts, and air fries. It does other things, too, but I don’t use those settings that often.
It’s not uncommon for me to throw some thighs in there for a quick 20 minute roast and 5 minute air crisp. Or pressure cook some meatballs or beef tips for dinner. Heck, you can even pressure cook frozen chicken breasts! Yes, I’ve done it. It does work. I’ve even roasted a whole chicken in there and then used the air fry setting for that crispy skin we all love. If you’re on the fence about getting one, I highly recommend it!
And for the slow cook option, there is nothing better than coming home to a house that has the aroma of delicious dinner. My favorite is chicken cacciatore. Yes, there are quite a few ingredients, but it is all worth it and there’s very little chopping involved.
If you’ve prepped on the weekend, there’s no chopping involved! Just toss it all in the slow cooker, set it, and forget until you come home. Then all you need is some pasta to serve the chicken with which is a quick 20 minutes or so. There is nothing better than a slow cooked meal. Slow cookers are not just for cold weather anymore!
Fire up the grill
Finally, you need to fire up the grill! Kabobs are a great way to get dinner on the table on the quick. Rough chop of some veggies, coarse chop some meat, and thread it all on a skewer. Most kabobs take 10 to 15 minutes to cook depending on your choice of veggies and meat.
I love me some grilled chicken thighs! No, not the bone in kind. The boneless skinless kind! I was always a white meat only kid growing up for the most past. But my tastes are enjoying the rich and moist flavor of the chicken thigh. It’s not my preferred poultry of choice. It can take a beating and still be tender and juicy. And if you pound them to even thickness, they cook up in 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on their size.
I hope during meal planning week 8 that I am arming you with many different ways to use a menu plan to not only plan your meals for the week, but also see ways to save time and money. And hopefully feed the masses quickly and without too many complaints about the amount of time spent in the kitchen. Or tantrums about homework problems without help.