Anyone else feel like their meal planning took a total nose dive when quarantine started? I’ve been a rigorous meal planner for years; I even have a soothing Friday ritual of planning for the week ahead with a cocktail in hand. But with the uncertainty of the world the last few weeks, even my best attempts to ad hoc a meal plan after grocery shopping have ended unceremoniously with boxed mac and cheese or hot dogs. While both of those meals are delicious and comforting, I need my meal planning routine back, just as much as my family needs more thoughtful meals (and maybe a few more veggies).
To jump-start my meal-plan mojo, dinners this week include the comforts of burnished cheese and creamy pasta. Each of these recipes is also either pleasurable to cook — with meditations like rolling meatballs or chopping vegetables — or dress up some neglected pantry staples. Here’s what I’m feeding my family of four this week to get dinner on the table and get my family dinner magic back.
Monday: Meatballs Over Grits
Here’s the thing I love about making meatballs, besides the obviously delicious results: Mushing, scooping, and rolling the meatballs is a meditative task that doesn’t require tons of focus. Another great thing about meatballs? You can make meatballs with any kind of ground meat you can find. My grocer has been running low on ground beef, but ground pork and chicken have been available each week. I’m making a double batch of meatballs to freeze for later, too. We’re serving these chicken meatballs over Southern grits, but polenta or crusty bread would be delicious with these too.
Recipe: Cheesy Skillet Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Tuesday: Veggie Packed Stuffed Peppers
If you’ve been looking for a recipe to use up the bits of grains in your pantry, these vegetarian stuffed peppers are it. Although the recipe calls for brown rice, quinoa, barley, or farro would be just as welcome folded in with the canned tomatoes and beans in this filling. You could even use cauliflower rice for filling these.
Recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Thursday: White Chicken Chili
This chili almost tastes like a creamy chowder, which makes it ideal for this transitional season between winter and spring when the evenings are still quite brisk. I’m swapping chicken thighs from our freezer for the breast called for here — but pork shoulder or even ground chicken can work here as well as any type of bean you have on hand.
Recipe: Weeknight White Chicken Chili
That leftover cacio e pepe from Wednesday is living its best next life as this creamy tomato frittata! Friday used to be our family pizza night, but we’ve been using Fridays as am evening to use up leftovers so we can have pizza and other easy meals over the weekend. If you don’t have leftover pasta, use any of the leftovers from the week here instead.
Recipe: Leftover Pasta Frittata
Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But we’re firm believers that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. We want to help you find inspiration and ease some of the pain points that come with getting dinner on the table night after night, whether you’re cooking one or a family of four or five. Every week we share a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests or from a guest contributor, for Next Week’s Meal Plan!