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A Week of Meals

Updated on August 10, 2013

Meals for the Week

Make your life easier by planning a week of meals at one time. When you know what you'll be eating, you can plan and shop accordingly to make your busy week easier to handle.

Instead of rushing home from work each night frantic, wondering what you have on hand to cook, spend an hour or so total to plan your meals for the week.

This time doesn't have to be spent all at once. Keeping a notebook in your purse to jot down ideas is a great way to plan. Shop smart, with a list in hand, and be prepared to feed your family all week long.

Photo Source: agastecheg at SXU

Quiche is easy and delicious.
Quiche is easy and delicious.

7 Days Meal Plan

Plan it, cook it, eat it

When you use a 7 days meal plan, you feel in control of your week. You can adjust your cooking to fit your day if you choose easy recipes that can either be prepared ahead or quickly the same day. When you go out to eat, look at the menu and think about what choices you could make at home.

Begin your meal planning with a list of food staples you normally cook with and have on hand. Add items like eggs, specific fruits and vegetables, cheeses, breads, tortillas, pastas, canned goods like beans, tomatoes, soups, and so on to your shopping list.

Next, jot down all of your family's favorite dishes. Include the simplest things like ham and cheese sandwiches, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, vegetable beef soup, chicken dishes, hamburgers, tacos--whatever your family's favorite meals are.

Some tips for cooking once and eating twice: cook enough meat (chicken, ground beef, whatever) so you can use if for two meals; bake a dessert in two small pans instead of a large one and freeze one dessert for another day; buy food on sale and freeze it to stretch your grocery budget.

Photo Source: Peggy Hazelwood

Keep a Notebook to Jot Down Meal Ideas - Consider a small notebook for your purse

Keep a notebook in your purse, in the kitchen, on the coffee table, on your bedside table, and anywhere else great ideas strike you. If you're anything like me, if I don't write it down, it's often gone.

Pasta salad can be made ahead and eaten with bread and fruit for a delicious easy meal.
Pasta salad can be made ahead and eaten with bread and fruit for a delicious easy meal.

Easy Dinner Ideas

Use these meals as starting points

With your list of meals that your family likes to eat, begin planning the evening meal for one week. Start the week on whatever day makes sense for you (Sunday or Monday or another day if you have a "strange" schedule).

Do your grocery shopping for the entire week making sure you buy all of the ingredients you'll need so there's no excuse to cook a meal.

For a meal you need to fix in a hurry, either for your family or drop-in guests, keep the following staples on hand to prepare a meal of sandwiches and sides at the last minute: canned chicken and tuna fish, a extra loaf of bread in the freezer, canned beans, canned fruit like peaches or fruit cocktail, and a brownie or quick bread mix.

Keep reading for menu ideas for every day of the week.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Make your own tacos.
Make your own tacos.

Sunday Night Meal Ideas

Tailor these meals to fit your family

Make Your Own Tacos with Rice and Beans -- Prepare ground beef or chicken, chop fresh tomatoes, shred lettuce, set out shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, avocado, and any other toppings.

Open a can of black beans or other favorite beans like refried beans. Cook rice and season with chopped green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and Mexican seasoning. Warm soft or hard shell taco shells in the oven for a few minutes, and let everyone make their own tacos.


- Make a taco salad instead of tacos with more lettuce and less taco shell.

- If your family likes casseroles, make a layered taco casserole adding the rice and beans to the dish.

Photo Source: agastecheg

Tortilla Warmers and Taco Holders - Make taco night easy and fun

These handy warmers and holders are great if your family loves tacos. The taco stands keep hard shell tacos upright. The tortilla warmers go from microwave or oven to the table.

French onion soup can be made ahead and heated for a satisfying dinner meal.
French onion soup can be made ahead and heated for a satisfying dinner meal.

Monday Night Menu Planning

It's usually a busy day so use the crock pot

Monday nights can be hard days for busy families. Monday is the first day back to school and work so give yourself a break. Think of some favorite foods your family likes that can be made in the crock pot. A good option is to make soup. Just add the meat, raw vegetables, water, seasonings, etc., turn the crock pot on and your meal will be ready when you get home from work.

Use these ideas for easy crock pot meals:

- Chili

- Soups, like bean, vegetable beef, chicken and noodle or rice, lentil

Have a cornbread mix on hand that can be mixed in a few minutes and baked in muffin pans for a quick, hot addition to your meal, or serve crackers or crusty rolls. Add some fresh celery and carrot sticks and fruit to balance the meal.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Crock Pots Work Any Day of the Week - Slow cook your dinner meal

Fresh fruit is great with breakfast foods.
Fresh fruit is great with breakfast foods.

Tuesday Night Meal Ideas

Serve breakfast for dinner

If your family likes breakfast foods, think about serving breakfast for dinner once in awhile. The only glitch to making breakfast is that it seems like most of the items have to be prepared just before eating. Let everyone pitch in, and breakfast, er, dinner will be ready lickety split!

These are some great choices for your breakfast dinner:

- scrambled eggs or a frittata (add in red and green pepper, onions, mushrooms for more nutrition)

- pancakes or waffles

- bacon, sausage, ham

- hash browns or fried potatoes

- toast, pastries, muffins, bagels, English muffins

- fresh fruit

- decaf coffee, tea, juice, milk

Photo Source: evobrained

GIve yourself a break with an easy mid-week meal.
GIve yourself a break with an easy mid-week meal.

Wednesday Day is Hump Day

You're half way there!

Wednesday means it's all downhill. Only two days left till the weekend! Live it up and take the day off from real cooking. Enjoy one of these easy dinner ideas:

- pizza, frozen or take out or if you're ambitious, make your own

- canned soup or chili

- deli fare like prepared barbequed meat or a rotisserie chicken or fried chicken with sides

- family free for all, let everyone eat what they want as long as they eat one piece of fruit and a veggie like a serving or two of these: raw broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas. Offer dip to sweeten the deal.

Photo source: pixaio

Fun Dips to Keep on Hand - Let everyone indulge a little while eating fruits and veggies

If you want to let everyone fend for themselves, offer these fun dips for fruits and veggies. They'll get some nutritious food plus enjoy eating it!

Make pasta or another family favorite dish.
Make pasta or another family favorite dish.

Thursday Night Meals

Make it ethnic night

Choose your favorite ethnic dish and serve it up on Thursday night (or any night). Some good easy options include the following:

- Italian: spaghetti and meatballs (frozen if you want to make it super easy) or bow tie pasta with pesto sauce, salad, garlic bread

- Chinese: stir fry with marinated (all day while you work) strips of chicken or beef or pork, vegetables like peppers, onions, snap peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, green beans, etc.

- Mexican: chicken or beef enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, serve with rice and beans and a small cabbage salad

- Greek: gyros, Greek salad with Greek olives and feta cheese served with rolls, Moussaka

- German: franks, sauerkraut, beets

Cookbooks for Even More Meals to Make at Home

Add tuna to a salad for a delicious meal.
Add tuna to a salad for a delicious meal.

Friday Night Menu Planning

Serve fish for a change

Whether it's for religious reasons or not, fish on Friday can be a delicious option. Serve your family's favorites or try one of these fish choices:

- fish sticks, sweet potato fries with cole slaw

- baked salmon, baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli

- shrimp, salad, fruit

- breaded cod, French fries, cole slaw

- tuna salad sandwiches, pasta salad, pickles

- tuna tossed in a salad

Photo Source: ilco

Cookbooks - Meal ideas for when you're stuck

I use the Cooking from the Cupboard cookbook for ideas of what to fix. It has real-food recipes, ones that use things I actually buy like beans and tomatoes and pasta. This cookbook is great to have on hand when you're stuck for new meal ideas.

Have sandwiches one night with everyone's favorite fillings.
Have sandwiches one night with everyone's favorite fillings.

Meals for a Saturday Night

Cook a little extra for another meal

Saturday can be a hectic day with running errands or relaxing, just depending. With a stocked pantry, you can come up with something to serve your family. Keep frozen foods on hand like these options:

- frozen chicken breasts that can be sliced into thin strips and stir fried or cooked in oil and added with pasta and vegetables

- a roast that can be put in the crock pot Saturday morning and eaten that evening; add potatoes and carrots for a complete meal

- ravioli or tortellini with your favorite pasta sauce, salad and bread

- complete frozen meals like lasagna or a stir fry that are not half bad; try one or two to see what your family likes

- sandwiches with everyone's favorite breads and fillings

Photo Source: lockstockb

More Meals for the Week - Keep looking and you'll discover so many meals

There are so many options to find quick and easy recipes. Try a new one each week. It might just become a family favorite!

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Peggy Hazelwood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Tell us about your meal planning.

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    • LisaDH profile image


      5 years ago

      I need to try planning my meals a week in advance. Normally I start thinking about what I'm making for dinner about two hours before I need to put it on the table. :-) I'm sure planning in advance would be a lot easier!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      6 years ago

      I love to cook on the weekends and then recycle during the week. I love cooking ahead. Great ideas here, Peggy.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      7 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Meal planning is something I really should give a good try. Usually I'll cook two nights in a row and then we'll make leftover meals with the leftovers later in the week. I do love using the crockpot though. :)

    • Bluemoongoddess1 profile image

      Lisa Musser 

      7 years ago from Kansa, USA

      Love this lens, I am always looking for frugal living ideas. Thanks so much...

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      7 years ago from Scotland

      yum! I have added this to my plexo in Quick and Easy dinner recipes! hope it brings a few your way!

    • Scarlettohairy profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @jptanabe: I do the same thing unless I have a certain recipe in mind. I wrote this to help me figure out some things to cook. It's such a never-ending job!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      I like your idea of planning which type of meal for each day! of the week. I tend to go shopping for a whole bunch of stuff every couple of weeks and then make meals from what I have till it runs out!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Keeping your pantry stocked with your favorite selection of rice, beans and other menu items makes it a lot easier to put together meals without extra trips to the store or giving in to fast food temptation.

    • hsschulte profile image


      7 years ago

      I find that we eat healthier if I plan it in advance and shop once a week. If left to scrounge up food each day, we end up eating out too often. Great ideas!

    • Scarlettohairy profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @Joan Haines: I'm the same way, Joan. I try to plan at the store a few things to fix or have on hand. I used to do much better when I had the kids to cook for.

    • Scarlettohairy profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @Ann Hinds: I know what you mean, wordstock. If I'm out I like to grab things but it's more economical to shop all at once, I think.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      7 years ago

      Nowadays, it's just one or two for meals. So, I just plan in a vague, general way, and do what's easy. This lens is no doubt a godsend for those cooking for a big family.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      My husband and I just had this discussion. We are tired of eating the same old thing and shopping daily. Thanks for the reminder to do it all at once.


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