A Week of Meals, One Day of Cooking

If your family is anything like mine, then you will understand me when I say that cooking a decent meal on a weeknight can seem next to impossible sometimes! It’s not that I lack the ability or the enthusiasm for cooking my family a good dinner – I think that I have a modest amount of both – but rather that my family’s afternoons provide the perfect storm of factors that seem to keep me from getting a proper supper on the table. I could explain, but I think that you know what I’m talking about!

In any case, I thought that I would share with you what I have done for meals this past week, in hopes that it might provide you with some ideas for your own family. On Sunday afternoon I grilled a large cut of steak (rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with pepper and garlic salt) and a bunch of chicken breasts (marinated in a rosemary garlic marinade). Here are the dinners that we ate for the week, using only the meat that I grilled on Sunday:

Sunday: Steak, hash brown potatoes, and cole slaw (my version of corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day)

Monday: Chicken and steak fajitas

Tuesday: Chicken stir-fry

Wednesday: Chicken and rice with broccoli

Thursday: Pasta with chicken

Tonight we are enjoying our church’s last Lenten dinner, so my family will get a break from “chicken and steak week” πŸ™‚ They may have gotten a bit tired of the same grilled meat, but at least we had a week of homemade dinners that were relatively quick and painless to make!

How do you feed your hungry family on weeknights? Please share your ideas in the comments!

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  • KD

    I love tips like this. I like to always keep cooked chicken in the freezer. I usually cook large batches, then shred or cube the chicken and freeze it in one cup portions. It can make dinner prep so much faster.

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    Great idea, Kat. I’m a lover of canned chicken too (gasp! πŸ™‚ to whip up a soup quickly or possibly a batch of chicken salad. One yummy twist that makes me feel better about the canned meat is using fresh avocado instead of mayonnaise for the chicken salad! It is delicious. Thanks Pinterest!

  • Brynne

    Baseball practice is my dinner nemesis right now. πŸ™‚ Another use it all week meat for us is slow cooker pulled pork. Here’s the recipe & the ways they suggest to use it in different recipes. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/melissa-darabians-10-ways-to-use-pork-shoulder/pictures/index.html

  • Karen

    Recently I did a workshop with a friend that sells Wild Tree product and we made 10 freezer crockpot meals that were delicious. The prep was about an hour and the workshop was about an hour, 10 meals in 2 hours!

    We are in survival mode with a new baby with special needs, and I have to admit to buying frozen food, which I usually never do. At Sam’s Club I buy a large package of seasoned frozen fish, which serve with rice and veg. makes a quick, tasty meal even the kids love to eat. A frozen meat lasagna here and there is another easy meal served with a salad. Also from Sam’s, I will pick up a rotisserie chicken, a package of broccoli slaw salad mix (comes with dressing), and some rolls. Sometimes I sigh, and wish I was learning to serve an organic, whole foods meal, but I can’t do everything at once. It is more important right now to do therapy with baby girl or fill out her paper work for the adoption. Hoping to see some easy ideas to coordinate into my meal planning in later comments πŸ™‚

  • Hi Karen ~
    First of all, congratulations on welcoming your newest little one into your family! I don’t think that I realized this, but it is wonderful news. I hope that the adoption process runs smoothly, and that you have some support as you navigate your sweet girl’s special needs. We would love to hear updates on how everything is going!
    In terms of meals, I think that it’s amazing that you’re even putting frozen meals on the table right now! After my babies are born, I rely so much on the generosity of others bringing us dinner, and I fill in the rest with scrambled eggs and pizza! Keep doing what you’re doing, and eventually you’ll have some breathing room again!
    One simple idea would be to buy good quality fruits or veggies that require little to no preparation – bagged baby carrots and sugar snap peas are my favorites. Then you have a fresh side to serve with any meal, and I think that counts for a lot! I also serve Activia yogurt with meals sometimes, which I think helps to regulate my kids’ digestive systems. Peanut butter on bananas is another favorite way to fit protein and fruit into a meal. There are plenty of nights when I’m throwing things together, and adding one or two of the above quick, easy solutions makes the meal nutritious. Hope this helps!

  • Kellie “Red”

    The crock pot works well for us. I also do grilled chicken with rice and raw veggies one or two nights per week. That is a quick easy meal with very little prep (I can squeeze some lemon and lightly salt the chicken immediately after it is cooked). When things are very busy, I do frozen pizza one night per week (with a salad) and also this pasta dish with a pre-made delicious vodka sauce from Trader Joe’s. I stock up on the sauce and the pizzas when I make a trip there. With that being said, the best way for me to cut back on meal prep time is to take the time to meal plan. The more I think about my food store trip, and really plan out my meals for the week, the more time I save in the evening when things get very busy. I try to get my calendar out for the week, and plan things that work with the time I will actually have available to cook. That seems to make dinner prep much more manageable. When I get delusions of grandeur about my cooking time — it gets ugly quickly!

  • Kellie “Red”

    Raw, pre-washed packs of veggies are my savior during baseball and soccer season! I serve them at lunch, and then again at dinner and it makes things just a little bit easier, and I know my kids are getting some nutrition too! They can also be packed up easily for snacks during games and practices. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Saoirse

    I have realized the crock pot is my long lost friend. I do a whole chicken in the crock. Throw a few potatoes in the microwave and some broccoli – and there is dinner. I also like to do big things like a whole turkey breast or pull pork in the crock. The whole turkey breast comes out nicely – and I slice and freeze it for later use. It has been a lifesaver some nights. I try to do one big prep day a month. My husband takes over the kids 100% – and I cook to freeze. I typically have several things going at once – a chili and a beef stew are standards. I then do two casserole type dishes like shepherd’s pie or chicken pot pie . I actually just figured chicken pot pie can be done in cupcake form. We are gluten free so I use G/F bisquick – but any biscuit mix (actually those canned biscuits would likely work really well) will do – put a bit in the bottom of the muffin pan lined with cupcake holder top with chopped chicken, mixed veg and cheese top with more biscuit mix – and cook according to biscuit directions. Perfect – sports night on the run dinner. My sons told me I was the “BEST” mom ever for that recipe. Best part – they freeze so darn well. I made 3 trays full the other weekend and froze. I also do meatloaf in the muffin pans and freeze – this makes reheating quicker and no slicing, etc. I also hide extra veggies in my meatloaf. My kids are completely aware of this – and help load the food processer to mince said veggies- but they are getting so many more nutrients than the few veggies they will consume at dinner. My 4 year old recently told me the veggies were better that way – he didn’t like to have to chew veggies. πŸ™‚ I had to institute once a month stock ups after a week with scouts and sports on every night. I realized they either had frozen pizza, pasta or scrambled eggs every night that week. One of the kids asked if we were ever going to have a real meal again. Yeah – Mom of the Year moment!

  • JMB

    Pulled pork is one of my easiest recipes and it can go on and on in leftover land. Buy a bone in butt roast – 5 lbs or so. If I owned a crock pot I’d do it there but I don’t so I just use a heavy casserole dish. Cover pork with 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce, then take 1 cup light or dark brown sugar and cake it on top and sides of roast. Dump one cup of apple juice around the sides of roast. Cover tight with aluminum foil and back at 425 for fifteen minutes, then lower to 325 for 4 or 5 hours. Take out and let sit for 15 minutes, then remove to big bowl and shred with fork. You can add salt, pepper, BBQ sauce or whatever at this point. The kids love it, it’s cheap as hell and you can use the leftovers to make pork burritos the following day.