Family-Friendly Meal Planning & My Go-To Kitchen Tools

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Guys. I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but sometimes I feel like I black-out when I’m at the grocery store. I just wander around throwing things in my cart that I think we’ll eat that week and then I’ve spent $200. And when I get home, I realize I still don’t have more than one full dinner, but I have a lot of useless snacks or little bits and pieces of things. I know that a lot of people plan their family meals for the week, so this week, I tried it for the first time. And yall. The entire week of dinners cost me $65 and there has been leftovers that we have eaten for lunch. And it’s healthy. And my eight-year-old likes it! How did I do it? Let me share it with you!

When planning our dinners for the week, my focus was on four things. 1) I wanted to create healthy, nourishing meals for us. 2) I wanted them to budget-friendly. 3) I wanted them to be family-friendly. 4) I wanted them to be pretty dang easy to make.

Tips when planning your family meals?

  • In order to really keep this budget-friendly, I looked in my pantry to see what I already had & could use to incorporate. What did I find? Lots of cans of black beans. Quinoa. Sweet potatoes. Buffalo wing sauce. Tortillas. So I knew I wanted to use those things.
  • Plain crock pot or instant pot chicken, yall. Chicken breast + chicken broth + crock pot. That’s it. On Mondays, I put some chicken breast in the crock pot, so I have some shredded chicken I can use for the first two dinners (Monday & Tuesday) as our protein source. You can usually find chicken breast on sale for relatively cheap and it can be used in so many different recipes. If you have extra shredded chicken even after you portion out for the dinners, you can use it for lunches! Chicken salad sandwiches (use nonfat Greek yogurt rather than mayo to keep it healthy), chicken and veggie bowls, chicken salads…
  • Think of what you like and your kids like! I know my son kiiiinda likes chili, but really likes cornbread, so I always be sure to include that & he will gobble his chili up.
  • Know your grocery stores. I know I can get an entire giant spaghetti squash for $2.49 at Trader Joe’s. And I know Fred Meyer charges anywhere from 99 cents to $2 PER POUND for a spaghetti squash. So TJ’s spaghetti squash is usually around $5 cheaper. So, I make a list of what I need from where. I usually get most things at Trader Joe’s and the rest at Fred Meyer and Costco.

I have came up with a sample weekly meal plans for yall! And remember, you can always change things so that your family likes it! For example, switch chicken for beef or bison, switch the sauces, substitute spaghetti squash for zoodles! Whatever your heart desires. I hope this saves you as much money as it did for me.

Monday: Buffalo chicken spaghetti squash. I have no hard and fast recipes for really any of these, but for this, I get a big Trader Joe’s spaghetti squash, cook it in the oven, then shred it up. I drizzle some Frank’s red hot buffalo wing sauce and a spoonful of nonfat plain yogurt to make the sauce a little creamy and stir it up in the squash noodles, add my shredded chicken, add some steamed spinach, and mix it together. Then I top it with green onions, avocado, and either mozzarella or blue cheese! Or both. Then I devour it.  ** If your little one doesn’t like buffalo sauce, spoon some squash into a bowl prior to adding sauce, and just add chicken, spinach, cheese, and avocado to the squash noodles. 🙂

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday, yall! Or taco salad Tuesday. Or chicken burrito Tuesday. Use that shredded chicken you have left from the crock pot, throw it in a skillet with a little water and add whatever you like for taco seasoning, then make what you like with all your favorite taco fix-ins.

Wednesday: Black bean, squash, & quinoa chili with cornbread! This is the recipe I use as a guideline when I make my chili. This is the recipe I use as a guideline when I make my chili. I usually use butternut squash or sweet potato when making this. And I always add spinach and riced cauliflower to the pot for extra good stuff. Season to your liking. And I buy a cornbread mix.

Thursday: Leftover chili for dinner. We always have leftovers of chili. Always.

Friday: Trader Joe’s Shawarma chicken thighs, roasted brussel sprouts, and roasted sweet potatoes. TJ’s shawarma chicken thighs are already seasoned and they are one our of family favorites. You can find it in their fresh section. We slap em right on the grill and they are just so. so. so good. They are always delicious roasted and you can make this a one-pan dinner!

Saturday: Free day! Maybe go out to eat, make something you’re all craving, whatever!

Sunday: One Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin with kale, craisins, and onions. Literally, just season your pork tenderloin and roasted it all. so yummy.

And here’s an easy photo to save for you for this meal plan:

And there’s a week! Let me know if you have any questions, and if you make anything or try out the meal plan, let me know if you like it! Next I’m sharing with you my favorite kitchen tools. I use these every single week, and they’re all tried and true.

6qt Crock Pot

Instant Pot – 6 qt – Crock pot style shredded chicken in a fraction of the time, perfect spaghetti squash on 10ish minutes… it is amazing. And on sale for $30 off right now.

NutriBullet Pro – This is my all time favorite blender. I use it for food processing, make my green smoothies/juices, pureeing… it does it all. And it’s WAY cheaper than a VitaMix or Blendtec. It’s on sale for $50 off right now at Walmart. The reviews speak for themselves! Nearly 8000 4.5 star reviews.

Air Fryer – $30 off on sale! Healthy “fried” veggies, without all the oil. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my air fryer. Read the reviews if ya don’t believe me!

Spiralizer – I use this to make zoodles (zucchini noodles). It’s on sale for $14 and it works so well.

And that’s a wrap, y’all! I hope you have an amazing Thursday. You’re almost to Friday! Stay strong. ❤️

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