My version of meal planning for years was something like “buy enough taco stuff for 3 days, soup for 2 days, etc.” That may have worked when I was a teen, but it’s boring and totally unfeasible now that I’m feeding a family of four. That’s why it’s so important to me to take a little bit of time on Sundays to plan meals for the week ahead. Luckily for you, dear reader, Kraft has put out a simple plan for a week of easy dinner ideas. Think: a chicken casserole, a lasagna recipe, a slow-cooker recipe, a Mexican casserole and cheesy broccoli soup. As a bonus, they also have a super-handy printable shopping list (click to open it in a new tab) that covers everything you need.
A few tips for making your own weekly menus:
1. Mise en place is your friend: Cut down your time in the kitchen all week by prepping as many ingredients as you can on Monday after you go shopping or as you begin to use them during the week. Doing something once is always easier than doing it over and over all week.
2. Crossover is key: Look for recipes that use the same foods so you have fewer items on your grocery list and are less likely to open your refrigerator to find unused ingredients screaming “Eat me!” You’ll notice I’m using broccoli, chicken stock, instant rice, milk, carrots, celery, onions, chicken and Parm multiple times this week.
3. Use it or lose it: By the same waste-minimizing token, look for recipes that use all of an ingredient—an entire package or bunch. If you want to cook something that only uses some of an ingredient, try to match it up with another recipe that uses the rest like I did with those lasagna noodles. And remember, just about any extra veggie can go into a side salad.