Ohio Living

Cooking on a Shoestring: Monday Meal Planning–“Fast Five” suggestions

Cooking on a Shoestring: Monday Meal Planning–“Fast Five” suggestions

Well, it’s Monday again, the time when I usually share my meal plan for the week and encourage you to do the same.  Today however, two of the six members of my family are down with a little tummy thing, and until I know how it’ll affect the rest of us, I’m not planning anything too adventurous in the food department!  So, instead of boring you with a list of bland, tummy-soothing meals, let’s talk about a tool we should all have in our meal planning repertoire: a list of five quick & easy meals that you can get on the table with minimal thought and preparation.

In our classes, we refer to this list as the “Fast Five,” a resource you can consult if plans suddenly change, if you know you won’t have a ton of time, or if you’re just having “one of those days,” but still need to feed your family.

I’ll share my list, plus a few other ideas.  They’re not gourmet by any means, but they get the job done if necessary and help us avoid the temptation of takeout.  I can get most of these meals into my kids’ bellies in less time than it would take me to order and pick up a pizza.  These are just the main dishes, but I try to round them out with fresh fruit, veggies & dip, or a salad.

Megan’s Fast Five

  • Chicken Quesadillas (canned chicken, cheese, and taco seasoning between flour tortillas, cooked on my big pancake griddle till melty and a little crisp)
  • Pasta & jarred sauce (sometimes throw in some browned ground beef if I have it or have time to cook some, but not necessary)
  • Ham & cheese omelettes (or just hammy/cheesy scrambled eggs if we’re in a rush)
  • French toast or homemade waffles topped with fruit
  • Frozen chicken nuggets (not often, but they’re always in my freezer as a last resort…it’s not the greatest, but nuggets at home plus veggies & fruit beats a drive-thru, and a ton cheaper!)

Other quick meal ideas:

  • Tacos (especially if you pre-cook and freeze extra meat on a less-busy night!)
  • Homemade soup from the freezer
  • Bagel/English Muffin/Pita pizzas
  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  • Cereal night (my kids especially love oatmeal made from scratch…they’re easy to please!)
  • Mac & cheese
  • Pancakes
  • Chicken & gravy over biscuits (I try to throw leftover chicken/turkey & gravy in the freezer when I make a big dinner so it’s ready in a pinch)
  • Sandwich or Salad night
  • Anything from the freezer that’s been previously prepared, then frozen for nights like this!  I’ve been trying to do this more by doubling or tripling recipes at least once a week, and I’m finding that I have a few things to choose from now!

I’m curious…what’s in your “Fast Five?”  Do you try to keep a few things on hand for when things get crazy?  I’d love to hear what you do in the comments or on Facebook!

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