Food and meal planning can seem overwhelming. For most of us, we want to make meals that are quick, easy, healthy and cheap (especially if you are on a budget). Every family has a go to list of meals that they eat so I thought I would provide a list of our top go to dinner ideas..
For most families, there is so much going on that getting dinner on the table seems like an impossible task some days. I have found that planning out my meals or at least having a variety of dinner ideas to choose from makes dinner go a little smoother in our household.
Some people choose to create a rotating menu which can be a huge time saver and keeps you organized when thinking about what you will be making in the upcoming weeks.
I have been keeping a list lately of what we make week to week so I can start my rotating menu. It seemed too overwhelming to me to just sit down and create the rotating menu. Over the last month, I have been tracking what we make on a regular basis to include in our rotating menu and so far so good. I have compiled a list of these dinner ideas in a notebook that I will eventually place in a spreadsheet on the computer.
I find that in the summer time, I usually bake more. I have been all over Pinterest to find some great recipes for baking and lately I have been making healthy blueberry muffins . I substitute more applesauce instead of the yogurt so my Logan can eat these too.
Here are some dinner ideas that are common in our house:
- Chili-I usually buy ground turkey to put in the chili because it is cheaper. I use a base of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney or chili beans. I then add chili powder, cayenne and cumin and that’s it. It is cheap, quick and it all goes in the crock pot.
- Turkey burgers with veggies– we love grilled turkey burgers and usually eat them with some type of fresh or frozen veggie for a side.
- Tacos– my Joey loves tacos! He is 4 years old and will eat 3 tacos at a time. He loves them so they are a regular in our house. Again, to save money, we will use ground turkey.
- Chicken Enchiladas– I make homemade enchilada sauce which is actually very easy. I do this because I want to make sure it is something Logan can eat. He is kind of picky so sometimes he doesn’t eat the enchiladas anyways.
- Fajitas– usually chicken fajitas using chicken tenderloins. If you have noticed, chicken breasts are more expensive and chicken tenderloins happen to be a little cheaper. We use those pretty often for our meals.
- Pasta with homemade sauce– I am not Italian so this is nothing fancy. I use crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh basil that I grow in my garden and a tsp of sugar. Not fancy at all but it tastes very good! If you have a bottle of cheap red wine open, you can easily throw in half a cup of red wine. I have done that and it gives the sauce a little depth.
- Turkey Sausage with peppers and onions and a side of veggies
- Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- Ham Steaks
- Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches
- Vegetarian Stir Fry- this is not as boring as you might think. Give it a try for meatless Monday. Cook brown rice separate from stir fry veggies. Place 2 tbsp olive oil in pan, add onion and 2 cloves garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli (fresh or frozen) saute until tender about 5-6 minutes then add 1 cup frozen peas, carrots and corn. Cook for about 4 minutes longer then add about 3 tbsp soy sauce. Plate the rice and add sautéed veggies on top. Done.
- Refried bean pizzas– Corn or flour tortilla. Warm beans. Place beans on top of the tortilla. Add enchilada sauce, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives, cilantro and bake in oven preheated at 425 for just a few minutes. Just until cheese melts. Yummy!
- Mexican soup– by far one of my favorite soups and it is low calorie! Thank you South Beach!
- Breakfast for dinner-your choice. Pancakes, eggs, omlette with leftover veggies
- Appetizers for dinner– we love this one. We will do nachos with cheese and sometimes add seasoned ground turkey on top with some guacamole.
- Baked potato bar– add your favorite toppings
- Mexican stuffed peppers with black bean mixture. Rice, black beans, chili powder, garlic powder, chopped tomatoes and topped with cheddar cheese. Top with enchilada sauce also. Bake and eat. These are awesome too. If you make the above enchilada sauce, you will likely have enough to make both these peppers and chicken enchiladas;)
- Tuna melts
- “Pizza” on leftover buns (hamburger or hot dog buns). We did this a ton as kids and we loved it! I bet your kids will too. Have them help in the kitchen. You can also pair with a salad or other veggie to round it out.
- Tuna casserole
- Slow cooker shredded Mexican chicken– 2 ingredients: 1 can salsa and 1 pkg chicken tenderloins. Cook for 4-5 hours on low and shred. I usually let it cook a little longer to make sure the chicken is done. You can easily tell when you are trying to shred it though. You can put on top of nachos or in a tortilla with your favorite toppings. I swear everything is better on nachos. You can also put on a salad if you like. If you feel a little crazy, you can add a can of black beans to the crock pot too. I know… nothing says crazy like black beans.
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If you need help with meal planning, I just read an eBook that helped me out with planning out dinner meals. Dinner stresses me out the most so I usually work on those meals first. I read the Organize Yourself Skinny eBook and I started using the partial freezer method to prep meals in advance and get dinner on the table quick. You can even do it with some of the meals listed above. I did a full review on the book if you want more details on my thoughts about the book.
You can also sign up for eMeals as they plan out meals for you. A 3 month plan costs as much as one dinner out so it may be worth it if you eat out a lot. It would totally save you money. There is also the option of $5 dinners. They plan out a week’s worth of meals for you and you download the menu and the grocery list. Again, very convenient and I can see where it would save money if you eat out a lot and hate meal planning.
Don’t let meal planning scare you. I hope the above dinner ideas will get you off to a start of how easy it can be to whip together a quick meal. You can keep the list above as part of a rotating menu. There, I just saved you some time. Your welcome.
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