We’re reaching the end of our summer schedule, and I’m slowly beginning to prep for the fall semester. Between random barbecues, picnics, and visiting friends, we’ve had a very spontaneous schedule that makes pre-planning and eating healthy a little complicated, so I’m looking forward to getting back into a more regular routine. Thankfully it has helped to have a very minimal menu that we use every week that helps keep things simple no matter the time of year. I love cooking and baking, so the most difficult part of dinner for me always seems to be deciding what to make. If I don’t have a menu, I tend to wander around the kitchen sifting through cookbooks as the time ticks closer to dinner with food yet to be made.
Because young children inevitably make meal time a little chaotic (at least at our house), I like to try to do anything I can in my power to make our evening meal time more peaceful. One thing that helps keep things calm is to create a meal plan each week. I always come back to this same basic week of meals after trying other things and wonder why I ever strayed. I find the repetition simplistic and freeing, and it really works for us. Obviously, there are some nights that I choose an alternative meal, and soup and bread night could mean any kind of soup or bread, but for the most part this is the schedule of what we eat every night of the week. It also keeps our meals healthy because we avoid impulsively purchasing processed food.
Sunday: Soup & Bread
Whether it’s tomato, potato, lentil, stew, or wild rice soup, this is an easy meal for Sunday evening when we need a gentle end to the weekend. The bread may be baguette, biscuits, or cornbread, but it’s always buttered and toasted. Most of our Sunday evenings lately have ended with tomato soup, a baguette, and roasted carrots.
Monday: Potatoes & Onions
Cubed potatoes and chopped onions baked in the oven with at least one other chopped veggie covered in olive oil, salt and pepper is the base for our Monday evening dinners. We sometimes add a meat or bread, but even if we don’t, it’s still a delicious mixture of vegetables.
Tuesday: Chicken & Rice
So many things can be done with a large pot of rice. As long as I know Tuesdays are rice day, I can choose chicken and pre-mixed frozen stir fry vegetables, or I will sauté onions, garlic, and any loose vegetables floating around in the veggie basket or refrigerator, and pile it all together on top of the rice.
Wednesday: Tacos/ Burritos/Enchiladas/Quesadillas
Depending on if I want to cook meat or not, and which kind of meat I want to cook, makes the decision on Wednesdays. Homemade tortillas can make simple ingredients like beans and bell peppers more filling, and they are much more delicious, in my opinion. I normally make tacos and burritos with homemade tortillas and enchiladas and quesadillas with store bought tortillas. My current favorite variation on burritos that I have been making lately is a mixture of black beans, bell peppers, onions, and jalapeño peppers sautéed and wrapped with cheddar cheese in a tortilla. Warmed in the oven until the cheese is melted, these are delicious for dinner and as leftovers for Thursday’s lunch.
Thursday nights are spent with our community group where we simply contribute a side or a dessert. Simple and breezy, this is practically a day off.
Friday: Homemade Pizza
This meal varies, but it almost always includes spaghetti sauce. Sometimes on homemade pizza crust, sometimes on spaghetti noodles or spaghetti squash, or sometimes simply on the side for dipping homemade garlic bread. The homemade crust and garlic breads I make are yeast-free because of a yeast intolerance that has forced me to learn a lot of bread alternatives. We still do a lot of other yeast breads throughout the week for everyone else in the family.
This is probably the most often substituted meal of the week. I love waffles, but I don’t always like them for dinner; I normally lean towards less sugary meals at the end of the day. However, I enjoy making waffles from scratch, and that takes a more time than I normally have at breakfast time. Quite the quandary. So, while we do occasionally enjoy them for breakfast, we often end our Saturdays with a giant stack of waffles.
This is our most basic list of meals we’ve been rotating each week, and I love that it is so healthy and simple to keep up. Currently the smell of onions and potatoes are filling my kitchen, and it’s only 4pm, so I think I can say it’s a successful menu for now.