01 of 07
Plan Your Week's Menus in Advance
Planning dinner day after day can become a grind, even when you feel inspired and you own thousands of cookbooks. It can be tough to think up healthy, savory meals, especially when you're rushed.
Every so often, I'll plan out a week's worth of dinner menus, including a shopping list. These menus use delicious and simple recipes and make good use of leftovers, so you should only have to shop once to feed your family six times.
And you can certainly change up the recipes! I've used... ground turkey instead of ground chicken in the Ranch Chicken Loaf I've included with the first dinner, and I added more salsa in place of the ranch salad dressing. That's what's nice about cooking — you can change things to suit your tastes as long as you follow the basic outline of the recipe.
Enjoy your week knowing that your meals are planned out and your refrigerator, freezer and pantry are full of good food that will nourish your family. These menus will take you through Saturday night, then you can tailor Sunday to your own family traditions.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
Monday Night Dinner
Ranch-flavored tortilla chips are crushed and used as a binder in this excellent ranch chicken loaf recipe. It's delicious and good for you, too.
Try tender asparagus as a side. If you cook more than your family can eat, you can cover the extra and refrigerate it for Wednesday's dinner. I use asparagus a lot in the spring because it's such a treat and it's less expensive then, too.
Garlic bread goes great with this main course. You can just brush the bread slices with olive oil if... you prefer a milder version, leaving out the garlic. Save three slices of the bread for tomorrow night's dinner.
Cookie brittle is a super easy shortbread that's a wonderful last minute dessert and will also add a treat to lunch boxes during the week. Save a few squares for the pie for tomorrow night.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Tuesday Night Dinner
Use leftover crumbs from Monday night's garlic bread to make a delicious and healthy frittata. You can add your favorite vegetable to this easy recipe. I like broccoli, but green beans or peas work, too.
Use the best fresh fruits you can find to make a marinated fruit salad as a side. Drain off the excess dressing and save the leftovers, covered in the fridge, for tomorrow's dessert.
Let your kids make seasoned breadsticks while you get the ingredients together for the frittata. They have... the most wonderful flavor and texture.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Wednesday Night Dinner
Use the asparagus left over from Monday in this impossibly good Ham Asparagus Pie. Cooked shrimp or chicken work equally well in this recipe if you don't want to use ham. You could even use cooked ground beef.
You can save some time if you buy a nice oil-and-vinaigrette salad dressing to use on this herbed spinach salad instead of the homemade version.
Meringues are very simple to make and they last several days, loosely wrapped, stored at room temperature. They're also very good filled... with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup if you don't have any fruit salad left over from last night. If you do, this fruit pavlova is a perfect dessert.
We're halfway through the week! It's time to take a look at your fridge and make sure your supplies are still well covered and refrigerated or frozen. You can make another trip to the market to replenish anything that hasn't stood the test of a few days' time.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Thursday Night Dinner
It's time for a crock-pot recipe! I always try to make at least one during the week. It's a day I look forward to because I know dinner will be ready when I am.
And I always try to make at least one vegetarian meal a week. Reserve some of the chili from this crock-pot vegetarian chili recipe for Saturday night's taco salad.
This delicious carrot pineapple salad is a cool accompaniment to the hot and spicy chili. You can make it Wednesday night or in the morning before you head off to... work.
You can't go wrong with these crisp little cheese crackers. They're fun to make — get your kids involved and burn off some steam!
This recipe for the world's fastest cheesecake is so adaptable. You can vary the flavor of sweetened condensed milk, use a low-fat version, or finish it off with different pie fillings and toppings. Enjoy!Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Friday Night Dinner
It's Friday night, time for a treat! The flavored butter in this grilled steak with herb butter is excellent on just about any grilled steak, or even on grilled chicken or salmon filets.
Hobo potatoes make a complimenting side dish to the steak. Potatoes and carrots cook in a foil packet in this easy and delicious recipe.
Melon salad is one of my favorite salad recipes. Melons are available any time of year, and the result is incredible when the juicy flesh is marinated in citrus juices and... mint leaves.
Strawberries dipped in chocolate is just about the simplest dessert ever, and it's so good. Save some of the strawberries for tomorrow night's dessert.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Saturday Night Dinner
You've put in a full week and now you want something easy. Try this taco salad using the leftover vegetarian chili from Thursday. Just put out a bunch of different toppings and let everyone create his own masterpiece.
We love flatbread because it's packed full of flavor. The bread is tender and chewy at the same time.
Super-fast eclairs use the strawberries from last night. This recipe calls for only three ingredients — it doesn't get any easier than that. You can use graham crackers... or simple sugar cookies if you can't find ladyfingers or madeleines.
And that's it! Enjoy your week's worth of dinners, and be sure to record any changes you make so you can reproduce your success.