Every Sunday I sit down to plan my family’s meals for the week. I try to map out activities, work schedules, and the like. This helps me shop more efficiently and know when I am going to need a meal in the refrigerator ready to go before we are out the door for the next thing. Below, I have provided you with my top Go-To Meals (GTM). These are things I know my family likes, usually have the ingredients on hand (or I can easily improvise if not) and are easy for me to make.
I try to plan when I will prep and while I may not make an entire meal I cut, chop, and pre-cook any component I can so I’m not doing the 5pm kitchen scramble.
• No recipe needed here just use your whole grain tortilla, load it up with veggies and cooked protein, and some cheese. A favorite in our house is seasoned sliced chicken breast, spinach leaves, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. You can either melt in the microwave or in a large skillet. NOTE: Cheese can add calories and fat quickly so add no more than ¼ cup to each quesadilla.
2) Pasta with red sauce and protein
• You can always make the pasta ahead and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Using red sauce adds nutrients, cuts calories and fats and is generally well accepted among little tikes. Adding protein like ground turkey can help keep you full longer and ward off some late night cravings. I also use this meal as an opportunity to use some of my chopped veggies such as green peppers, mushrooms, and extra tomatoes.
• This is super easy because all you need is some whole grain rice, sauce of your choice and veggies.
• To save time I use the frozen vegetable mix and sauté them using teriyaki sauce or any flavoring you desire.
4) Homemade Mac-n-Cheese (recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com)
• I love Mac-n-Cheese but try to skip the bright yellow stuff. This recipe is great because you can
make ahead and freeze what you don’t use within two days.
- Kosher salt, as needed, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small
- Vegetable oil spray
- 1 cup skim milk
- 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut
- into small pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, plus
- 1/2 cup for topping the casserole
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
• Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
• Spray the baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
• Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat
between several layers of paper towels to dry. Transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish and set
• Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, and whisk in the cream cheese and mustard until
smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, salt, pepper and garlic and whisk just until the cheese melts,
about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine. Top with
the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 15 minutes. Serve.
• Using pre-made pizza dough (Trader Joe’s has a really yummy whole grain version) fill with
pizza sauce – or spaghetti sauce works just fine too- veggies, a little bit of cheese, and protein if
you choose. Some combinations I use are:
Sliced ham, pineapple, cheese & red sauce
Pre-cooked chicken, sliced tomatoes, pine nuts, pesto sauce
Veggies and red sauce
• Split your dough up into smaller pieces (I can usually get 3-4 cal-zones out of a Trader Joe’s premade
bag) and roll to flatten. Place ingredients in the center and fold in half, pressing the ends
together to lock in ingredients. Bake according to dough package.