Meal Planning Tips; and Meal Plan, Week 1

I posted a question on some of my social media accounts, asking if there would be any interest in me blogging a weekly Meal Plan with corresponding recipes. The response was overwhelming, and I’m excited to start this new weekly series. I’ve been Meal Planning for a couple years, and it really helps keep me on budget, from running to the store several times a week for things I forgot, and also keeps me from the dreaded “Oh my gosh, what am I making for dinner?” 4pm panic moment. Each week on Sunday evening or early Monday morning, I’ll be posting 5 dinner ideas and their corresponding recipes. At my house, we always have a frozen pizza night, and also a night for leftovers, so that handles all 7 dinners for us. My family doesn’t eat much red meat, so you’ll see lots of chicken & turkey recipes here, as well as an occasional vegetarian and/or gluten-free dish. You can usually sub the turkey for beef, if you like.

Meal Planning Tips:

-Make your meal plan at the beginning of the week. I do mine every Sunday evening or early Monday morning. I will take 30-45 minutes and search Pinterest, cookbooks, and my favorite food blogs for 5 dinner recipes. I’ll double-check my pantry for any corresponding ingredients, and then write the remainder on my grocery list, along with any other kitchen basics/household needs.

-Keep a frozen pizza or two in the freezer in case dinner doesn’t turn out… especially if you’re trying new recipes. Something may burn, or the recipe may not turn out.

-Head to the grocery store when your kids are happiest. For me, this is first-thing in the morning as soon as everyone has eaten breakfast. I pack a couple toys for the baby, a snack for my toddler, arm myself with coffee, and head out for about 2 hours of grocery shopping. Stick to your list and try to move quickly – this will help keep you on budget, and your kids from getting grumpy from an extra-long shopping trip.

-Once you get home, your kids will probably be cranky and ready for lunch and a nap. Quickly feed everyone, and put them down for a nap, or let them do an activity that will keep them focused while you bring in the groceries, clean out the fridge, and put all the groceries up.

-Tape a little note to the fridge with the 5 dinner options this week, so that you can know at a glance what you can make for dinner each night. Remember, I also have a pizza night and a night for leftovers each week too. If you traditionally go out for dinner on a certain night each week, add that too.

Tada, you’re done!! By lunchtime on Monday, you have a stocked fridge and pantry, fresh produce, and know exactly what you’ll be making for dinner each night. Pretty good feeling, right?!

Here’s our 5 dinner recipes for this week.

Baked Italian Pesto Chicken

Original recipe found over at The Pinning Mama blog, but my tweaked recipe is below.

4 chicken breasts, thawed/boneless/skinless (or enough for 1/person)

Pesto, small jar (you can buy a small jar of prepared pesto on the same grocery aisle as spaghetti sauce)

1 tomato (if you’re doubling this recipe, you’ll need 2 tomatoes)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Spray a glass casserole dish with non-stick spray.

-Lay chicken breasts in dish, and spoon pesto on top (enough to lightly cover the top of the chicken breast).

-Slice tomato, and lay on top.

-Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the chicken breasts.

-Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is done.

*Delicious served with steamed broccoli and/or salad!

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Original recipe found over at My Chocolate Therapy blog.

2 chicken breasts (can use frozen or thawed)

1 small jar of salsa (or half of a big jar. You can also choose mild or medium salsa, depending on how spicy you like your tacos)

1 packet of milk Taco Seasoning

-Place chicken breasts in bottom of crockpot, and then add salsa & taco seasoning. Stir slightly.

-Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork before assembling tacos.

*Serve in tortillas with sour cream, shredded cheese, and refried beans. 

Crustless Cheesy Zucchini Quiche

Original recipe found over at Roxana’s Home Cooking blog. 

2 zucchini

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 onion, diced

2 eggs

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Spray small casserole dish (I use a round, glass one) with non-stick spray.

-Thinly slice zucchini, lay in a single layer on a towel on counter, and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes and pat dry. Put half in the bottom of the dish (it’s okay to double/triple/quadruple layer them), and try to line a single layer of zucchini standing up around the edge of the dish (to make a stand-up crust)

-Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top of zucchini

-Dump the rest of zucchini slices on top of cheese.

-Mix 2 cups of cheese, onion, and eggs in a mixing bowl and pour on top of zucchini slices.

-Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

-Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is brown, bubbly, and center is “set”.

*This quiche is a little watery even after salting the zucchini slices for 30 minutes. This doesn’t bother me, or affect the taste of the quiche… however, you can squeeze the zucchini in a cheesecloth if you want to make it even less watery. This is delicious served with a salad!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

I found the original recipe on the Damn Delicious blog, but my tweaked recipe is below. 

2 cups quinoa, cooked

1-10 oz can of mild enchilada sauce

1-10 oz can of diced tomatoes & green chilies, drained

1-10 oz can of corn, drained

1-10 oz can of black beans, drained

1 TB dried cilantro

1/2 tsp chili powder

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup cheddar cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

-Grease a 8″x8″ (or small round) casserole dish with non-stick spray.

-Mix all the ingredients (except leave out about 1/3 cup of each of the cheeses) until well mixed.

-Spread quinoa mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheeses on top.

-Bake for about 15 minutes, or until top of casserole is lightly browned and bubbly.

*Delicious served with a dollop of sour cream and a salad.

Baked Ziti

Original recipe over at The Country Cook blog, but my tweaked recipe is below.

1 lb ground turkey

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (you can use use 2 jars here, if you want extra, separate sauce to pour onto your individual servings when ready to eat)

1 small jar of alfredo sauce

1 lb penne pasta

1/2 onion, diced

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Spray a large casserole dish (9″x13″) with non-stick spray.

-Cook pasta according to directions on box.

-While pasta is cooking, go ahead and brown your turkey in a skillet with the diced onion.

-Pour off extra grease from turkey/onion mixture and pour into a small pot with one jar of spaghetti sauce. Heat the sauce mixture on low.

-When pasta is done cooking, drain off all the water, and put the dry cooked pasta back into the pot. Add jar of alfredo sauce to the pasta, and stir until thoroughly coated.

-Pour pasta/alfredo mixture into the bottom of the greased casserole dish.

-Spoon the turkey/onion/spaghetti sauce mixture on top of pasta.

-Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.

-Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 15 minutes.

-If you opted to go with a second jar of sauce, then now is the time to start heating it on the stove.

-Remove foil, and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted & bubbly.

*You can pour the extra sauce on top of your individual servings of the baked ziti, or it’s delicious without too. I serve this with a little garlic bread (make your own by buttering some toast and adding some garlic powder), a salad, and maybe a steamed green vegetable.

If you have any questions about Meal Planning, or these recipes, leave me a comment and I’ll respond back. If you’re on Instagram, tag your dinner picture with the hashtag #MealPlanningWithAbbey – I’d love to see what you’re cooking! Here’s to less-stressful 4pm’s for all of us! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Meal Planning Tips; and Meal Plan, Week 1

    1. Melissa, thanks for reading! I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does – One of my missions in life is tracking down healthy (or semi-healthy, haha) recipes that don’t cost an arm & a leg to prepare. Hugs, friend!

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