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With activities and meetings and life, in general, filling up our busy weeks, quick and easy dinners are a must. I'm sharing a free printable grocery list, with room for your meal plan, to help you feed your family easier on those busy weeks. Which is all of them. AmIright? I'm not sure if you've seen my crown, but I am the queen of getting dinner on the table fast. Working from home gives me some luxuries that other working moms don't have. But I try to give myself “office hours” while the kids are in school.
Which means no errands, no housework and meal prep. Even crockpot meals get started before the kid's leave in the morning. It's just too easy to get sidetracked and watch Bachelor in Paradise, and never come back to work.
Why Use a Grocery Printable with Meal Planning Section?
Planning our meals really helps me make sure that I'm not buying too much food and that the meals match the amount of time we have to make dinner each day. I'm a pretty great multitasker but when I'm planning our meals for the week, I like to focus only on that. There are just too many variables that play into trying to create a stress-free weeknight cooking situation. I grab my printable grocery list, pen, cookbooks, torn out sheets from magazines of recipes I've been wanting to try and our cookbook of family favorites.
I also grab our family calendar and text my husband asking which nights he will be out. Then I grab the store circulars because saving money is awesome. Once I have all this gathered, I can start planning. I'm a planner by nature so I oddly enjoy this process.
It doesn't take me that long to do but I feel great about knowing exactly what we'll be eating all week, including a little wiggle room if something changes last-minute.
This Grocery List Saves Me Time at the Store. Amen.
Then I head to the store and pick up ALL the things. This printable grocery list breaks down items by the section which makes you a super efficient shopper at the store. I just cross things off as I get them and I'm out of there in no time at all!
I pick up extra fruit for the kids who inevitably ask for a snack a half hour before dinner or a pre-bedtime snack. And I make sure to grab Kidfresh meals to keep on hand or those extra busy nights or when life throws you a curve ball. The kids love these, even with their hidden veggies.
How I Decide What Meals to Make
Getting dinner on the table can be challenging. I like to do a mix of meals that are favorites, meals that are really easy and then something new. My kids don't love food. And they don't love a lot of dishes that you think kids are supposed to love. I try out new recipes to see if we can find flavors they like that we might be able to work into a routine.
I try to only do one new recipe a week as even if they are a quick recipe, making something the first time seems to take forever! I also look for ways to use shortcuts. I really only want to have to focus on one cooking thing at a time so I'll use frozen rice instead of making in on the stove. Quick swaps like that really help dinner come together fast. It's what I do for our favorite chicken fried rice recipe which we eat just about every other week. If we have a Cub Scouts meeting, I know that dinner will need to be ready much earlier than usual. Luckily my kids love pasta and we can designate Cub Scouts nights as pasta night. I get creative with the sauce and this is where we keep things from getting boring. We tend to stick with spaghetti, as that is what the rest of my family loves.
But I can top it with jarred sauce, jarred sauce jazzed up quickly with ground beef, frozen turkey ragu from one of our favorite stores, butter with cheese and garlic salt, or if I have some extra time, I'll make my own turkey bolognese. I like to keep things interesting but always super easy.
My Fave Quick Side Dish Idea
If I make a new main course and run out of energy with the side dishes, I usually just add some cinnamon apples. My family doesn't love apples. Right now we are pretty much only into Honeycrisp apples (OMG if you have never tried one you need to stop what you are doing and go get one. You'll need to take out a loan because they're expensive, but they are the only apple we will eat. So yum!)
All I do is slice them, and toss them with a little bit of cinnamon. No cooking required. The kids LOVE these! It's crazy. Easiest side dish ever! Planning our meals on my printable grocery list means that I never have to guess what is going on the dinner table at night. That totally stresses me out. I try to keep a few pantry stable items on hand just in case I forgot to thaw out my meat, or have forgotten an essential ingredient (happens more than I'd like to admit).
My kids are on a big black bean kick so I always have that. A jar of marinara can turn frozen chicken tenders into chicken parmesan really quickly. And while I try to stick with fresh veggies, I always have canned corn and green beans just in case.
I pick up fast cooking side dishes when they are on sale so I have pasta or rice to go with simple roasted chicken. There is no way that I can make everything from scratch on busy weeknights. I save that for my weekend cooking.
My Back Up Dinner Idea For When I Can't Cook
It turns out that my “back up” meal plan is one of my most requested dinner items by the kids. Kidfresh meals are perfect to keep in the freezer to be able to grab in a pinch when your day just doesn't go as planned or if you just want a break.
The kids started requesting these so often that they have become part of our meal plan. Which is super awesome and means I cook one less night out of the week! These may look like other kids frozen meals, but they aren't! E
ach meal is made with up to 1/2 cup of hidden veggies. All Kidfresh meals and sides are made with no artificial flavors or ingredients, no synthetic colors or flavors and non-GMO ingredients and have a short, clean ingredient list.
These meals cook up in 4 minutes or less and are also great for including in a thermos for lunch! They've even made sure the packaging is free of BPA and the boxes are made from 100% recycled cardboard. Kidfresh meals ensure my kids get a healthy dinner, even when I don't have time to cook it myself.Find Kidfresh Frozen Meals in the frozen pizza aisle of your local Target store. Look for the door marked Kid Faves! They make it really easy to find! My kids love the Kidfresh Wagon Wheels Mac + Cheese and the Kidfresh Mamma Mia Cheesy Pizza.
Click Below for Meal Planner and Grocery List
More easy dinner options for you:
- Salami and Pepperoncini Pizza
- Tuna and Noodles
- Farro and Veggie Argula Salad
- Easy Chicken Tacos
- Teriyaki Turkey Stir Fry
Printable created for me by Christa Cordova.
Pin this Printable Grocery List for Later!
I decided not to put days of the week on the menu planning portion of the printable grocery list. Because our schedule is so varied, I don't always sit down on a Sunday to plan out the week. My meal planning might be done on a Tuesday. Once I return from the store, I stick this up on the side of the fridge with a magnet so I can refer to the meal plan. This reminds me when I need to thaw something or just keep me on track for the week.
I hope you find this printable grocery list with menu planner as helpful as I do!