Meal Planning Rut? 15 Easy Dinner Ideas to Try

I am a planner through and through, but when it comes to meal planning lately, I am just not feelin’ it.

Obviously the current quarantine/empty grocery store/economic crisis is making meal planning a teensy bit more stressful than usual. But to say I am behind on my meal planning is an understatement. I have not been planning at all, other than to buy a whole bunch of meat and stash it in the freezer.

(That’s kind of a plan, right? I’m planning to eat more protein!)

Around 5pm each day, I stumble into the kitchen and rummage around wondering how I can cobble a meal together out of diced green chiles and an old bag of cauliflower rice. It’s not fun for me, and it’s probably even less fun for my family, who actually has to eat the meals I place before them.

Pancakes; Meal Planning
Pancakes are acceptable for dinner, right?

My sister challeged me to meal plan for the next 6 days, and gosh darn it, I’m going to accept the dare and pull myself out of this slump. If you’re in a meal planning rut too… maybe you’d like to join me? You are? Well… then we can be friends. And try some new recipes together.

Here’s what I dredged up from the internet. My criteria include:

  • Can’t have too many weird ingredients. I’m avoiding trips to the grocery store!
  • Picky eater offenders (onions, beans, tomatoes…) can be swapped or omitted without ruining the recipe.
  • Must have some kind of meat/protein.
  • Can be repurposed in some form as a leftover or another meal.
  • Healthiness was NOT a determining factor, although some of these are pretty solid nutritionally.

Ok, here it goes.

Meal Planning Ideas

This one looks like it’s Keto friendly. Which means I will probably enjoy it, even though I’m not Keto. I will probably sub in some spaghetti noodles for the Zoodles for the family, but if I get an ambitious streak I’ll make some Zoodles. I really do like them.

I don’t like salad for dinner. I’m not sure if I can even call myself an adult? BUT I have found them to be more tolerable when I serve them as a “CHOPPED” salad, which this recipe is. I love this blogger’s healthy take on comfort food… and she posts macros if you’re into that sort of thing. Or if you want to be.

Another one from Lillie Eats + Tells. This one is a casserole, which doesn’t always go over well in my house. But it has cheese and green chiles. So I’m willing to give it a try.

Everyone in my orbit likes cheese tortellini, and I’ve never used it as a base for a soup. Plus, this has some spinach in it. I’ll save this for a colder day.

Honey Sriracha salmon is the only salmon recipe I like, so I think there’s a good chance this one will be a winner. Plus, it is designed for meal prep, which I should probably consider doing at some point. I’ll definitely serve this over a bed of rice with a squeeze of lemon

This one isn’t new to me, I make it a few times a year. I really enjoy Ree Drummond’s take on this dish…it’s a little lighter than most and the sauce has a rich, sweet flavor that I really love. I’m busting it out, because I have thin sliced chicken breasts in my meat stash. Serve over spaghetti . With wine.

Because… well, why not?

I’ve made this before as well, and it is delicious. I included it because it’s versatile and great for leftovers. Plus, I don’t think people think to cook turkey breasts this time of year, and it really is a healthy + satisfying additon to the lineup. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes, and some veggies. Use leftover in a soup, in quesadillas, or on a sandwich.

I usually cook Tri Tip, but this marinated flank steak is a nice change of pace. Buy a few flank steaks, split into baggies, and double the marinade. Cook one tonight (let marinate for a few hours first!) and toss one bag into the freezer so it’s ready to go next week. Great leftover on tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, burritos…

This looks easy. And cheesy. I t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ hope my kids will eat these?

I really enjoy making homemade pizzas, and this looks like a fun twist. You could use black beans if you aren’t a refried fan. I feel like this one has a lot of opportunity for individual variation.

I’m looking at you, bag of shrimp at the bottom of my freezer drawer. I’m coming for you.

The ingredient list on this one is a little long. Depending on availability of ingredients… I might have to ditch the Chimichurri altogether. BUT I like the idea of creating one-pan fajitas so I included it as a base for experimentation. Go crazy.

Cheese. Meat. Repeat.

My friend told me about this site and has good success with the recipes on the Traeger. If you have a smoker… you might find something you enjoy here! Scroll to the bottom of this list for the Chicken Roll Up recipe (there are several others as well).

Looking at this list, it’s apparent that what I’m really craving most in life right now is… comfort food.

Primarily of the Mexican variety.

What can I say?

I’ll keep you posted on my trials as I work my way through this lineup (you can follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I’m up to).

Wish me luck (and let me know what your current meal planning status is in the comments). Anyone finding a good rhythm? Any good recipes for me to add to the list? Do tell.



suzette gebhardt signature

P.S. If you want more meal planning ideas, I outline all of my usual go to recipes here. There might be something new to you here…and they’re all pretty easy. Not gourmet. Easy.

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