I don’t know about you, but those few hours before a weeknight dinner can tend to be a little frantic at my house. Thankfully, I’ve finally caught on to the number one thing that makes all the difference in the world between frazzled and calm in our after school hours.
It’s dinner itself.
Or more specifically: what type of meal I’ve planned. I’ve learned that if I intend to make a hands-on, prep-intensive (i.e. more than twenty minutes of me actively cooking in the kitchen) meal, I’d darn well better be okay with the kids watching a movie before dinner while I do so.
Normally, we don’t let our kids have screen time on weekdays. There are already so few hours between when they get home from school and when they go to bed, and there are so many worthy pursuits I try to encourage (active outdoor play, reading for pleasure, creative work, and make-believe) that I just don’t want to waste any precious time on screens.
(Note: lest you think this sounds high-and-mighty, just know that when I was trying to work from home + homeschool + had three kids age six and under + was dealing with health issues… my kids watched more TV than I’ll ever, ever care to admit. So, been there done that.)
Inevitably, the kids want my full attention when they get home and/or are having emotional meltdowns after a hard day of self-regulation work at school. (And understandably so, on both counts.)
So, I’ve been making a big effort lately to intentionally plan meals that can be partially prepped ahead of time, or are in the crockpot, or are throw-it-all-together dishes that just bake while I am in hands-on mom mode.
Because I can tell you right now: if our dinner recipe has eleventy hundred steps and is dependent on my full and undivided attention in the two hours before we’re supposed to eat, we’re probably in trouble. (I do love cooking complicated meals from time to time, but I save those for weekends when hubby is home.)
If your house operates in a similar way to mine, low-maintenance dinners are probably a key part of your weeknight survival plan too. Here’s a list of some of my favourites, in case you need fresh inspiration for your meal plan this week!
20 Low-Maintenance Weeknight Dinners to Ditch the Frazzle
- Best-ever chili
- Roast in the crockpot
- Flatbread pizza (my recipe coming soon!)
- Aunt Beulah’s chicken
- Chicken noodle soup
- Bacon and eggs
- Honey-mustard chicken (another recipe coming soon)
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Irish beef stew
- One-pot pasta
- Sweet and sour meatballs over rice
- 20-Minute red thai curry (I want to try this recipe!)
- Baked salmon with apple-walnut kale salad
- Skillet dinner
- Lettuce wraps (tuna or chicken salad)
- Southwestern frittata (a family fave recipe found in my breakfast e-cookbook)
- Butter chicken (I use a friend’s recipe so I can’t share, but it’s not as time-consuming as you might think!)
- Burgers and homemade french fries
This Week’s Meal Plan (Week 4)
Lunch: Out for lunch with hubby
Dinner: Leftover chicken soup
Lunch: Leftover pizza
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognese with caesar salad
Lunch: Leftover spaghetti bolognese
Dinner: Crockpot meatloaf + mashed potatoes + peas
Lunch: Leftover meatloaf dinner
Dinner: Curried butternut squash soup
Lunch: Leftover butternut squash soup
Dinner: Flatbread pizza
Tell me: what are your favourite go-to weeknight meals?
THIS WAS POST #5 IN OUR PLAN IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT CHALLENGE. HERE’S THE SERIES SO FAR:
- Plan It Like You Mean It (Join Me for an Eight-Week Meal Planning Challenge!)
- Meal Planning & Procrastination (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 1)
- 4 Meal Planning Tips for When You Want a Break from Cooking (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 2)
- Meal Planning for the Spontaneous-at-Heart Types (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 3)
- <you are here> 20 Low-Maintenance Weeknight Dinners (Plan It Like You Mean It, Week 4)
The Plan It Like You Mean It challenge is sponsored by Plan to Eat, because eating at home should be easier!
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