What’s for Dinner – FREE Printable

What's For Dinner FREE Printable main via Clean Mama

It’s the never-ending question in homes around the world – ‘what’s for dinner?’.  With all the menu planning lately I thought a free printable might be a fun way to help you with your menu planning too!

Use it on a clipboard, in your homekeeping notebook, or put it in a frame and use a dry erase marker.  Doing a little menu planning goes a long way to a more organized week in our home and I hope it’s helpful for you too!

What's For Dinner FREE Printable via Clean Mama

Go here to grab your FREE What’s for Dinner? printable!

(Please note: You’ll need to put the printable in your cart and checkout – it’s still FREE – once you create an account it will save any free printables and you can come back and access them anytime. Upon checkout you’ll see the link for the free printable AND it will also be emailed to you automatically!)

Interested in other posts about menu planning and make ahead cooking?  Go here to see other posts!

Clean Mama's Everyday Menu Planning Kit Clean Mama Printables

This FREE printable coordinates perfectly with my Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.  It’s a great addition to the kit or use it by itself – there is a Recipes to Try List and a Family Favorites List in the same format as this free printable. You can see the entire Everyday Line here in my shop.

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Make Ahead Cooking : Ground Turkey 3 Ways

Ground Turkey 3 Ways with Printable Guide via Clean mama

Make ahead cooking and bulk cooking is a must for getting dinner on the table in our home.  One of my favorite methods is to figure out a couple recipes that can be made semi-simultaneously in an hour or so.  Ground turkey 3 ways is just that – three basic components with simple ingredients that create a handful of meals to stock the freezer.

Simply follow these step-by-step directions and you’ll have made three different types of turkey meals for the  for at least 6-8 meals for 4-6 people in the freezer in about an hour!  (Don’t worry – I have a step-by-step printable guide at the end of the post for you!)

Start with these ingredients:

  • about six pounds of ground turkey – divided in half (I used a 6+ pound package of 93% lean ground turkey from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepperBrown and Season Ground Turkey - via Clean Mama

SEASONED AND BROWNED GROUND TURKEY

STEP 1:
Scramble half of the ground turkey with garlic, salt and pepper – cook thoroughly.  TIP:  use a potato masher to stir and mash the ground turkey as you are cooking it.

STEP 2:
Drain any liquid.

STEP 3:
Take out half of the cooked ground meat and place in a freezer safe container or bag. Allow to cool completely before putting in the freezer. This is your all-purpose ground turkey mixture – use in tacos, pasta sauce, chili, burritos, burrito bowls, etc.

Simple Turkey Lasagna via Clean Mama

TURKEY LASAGNA

STEP 4:
Gather ingredients:

  • about a pound and a half cooked ground turkey – this is what you have left in your pan
  • 1 jar red sauce
  • 1 jar white sauce
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 30 oz. ricotta cheese
  • no-bake lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese and 1 package (12 slices) sliced provolone cheese
  • parmesan cheese

STEP 5:
Taste the cooked meat and add salt and pepper and Italian seasonings if necessary. Add white and red sauce to leftover meat in saucepan. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

STEP 6:
Combine ¼ – ½ cup pesto with 30 ounces ricotta cheese.

STEP 7:
Use 2 baking dishes – I used a 9×13 pan and an 8×8 baking pan – add sauce to bottom of each pan. Layer noodles, ricotta/pesto, grated cheese and repeat until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top.   Add plastic wrap and foil to seal; label and freeze.

Baked Turkey Meatballs via Clean Mama

TURKEY MEATBALLS

STEP 8:
Gather ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

STEP 9:
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, but don’t overmix.

STEP 10:
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

STEP 11:
Line 2-3 baking sheets with foil and parchment paper – spray with cooking spray.

STEP 12:
Scoop with a small scoop or use a tablespoon and form into balls with your hand.

STEP 13:
Place turkey meatballs on baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

STEP 14:
Cool thoroughly and place in 2-3 zip top bags and freeze until needed. I like to put the meatballs in barbecue sauce and serve as an appetizer or as an entrée with mashed potatoes or a meal with pasta sauce. You can also make a cream sauce and make it Swedish meatball style. The options are endless!

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Go here to grab your 2 page FREE step-by-step guide for making ground turkey 3 ways.

(Please note: You’ll need to put the printable in your cart and checkout – it’s still FREE – once you create an account it will save any free printables and you can come back and access them anytime. Upon checkout you’ll see the link for the free printable AND it will also be emailed to you automatically!)

Add these make ahead meals to a quiet afternoon, evening, or weekend afternoon – the small amount of time invested is totally worth it!

Interested in other posts about menu planning and make ahead cooking?  Go here to see other posts!

Ground Turkey 3 Ways via Clean mama

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4 Ways to Add Structure to Your Menu Plan

4 Ways to Add Structure to Your Menu Plan via Clean Mama

Eager to try out menu planning after reading last week’s post and looking for some ideas to get you started? These are four of my favorite methods to make meal planning, prep, and dinner a little easier. Choose one idea to implement, or all four. Either way, you are guaranteed to make dinner time run all that much more smoothly.

Double Duty Dinners:

One of my favorite short cut methods to menu planning is double duty dinner planning. Essentially, this is utilizing a cook once, use twice mentality.  This also works well when I double a recipe and freeze one meal and eat one.  I use the frozen meal on those nights when all I have is 5 minutes to get something in the oven.  Thinking ahead is the key to double duty dinners – it doesn’t take that much more effort to cut and prep extra vegetables, cook two portions of meat or prepare double the amount of ingredients that would go in to another night’s dinner.  Here are some of my favorite ideas for utilizing this method for meal planning:

  • Roast two chickens and have one for dinner one night, and shred or cut up the remaining one for dinner the next night. Perfect for salads, shredded meat sandwiches, tacos and any other recipe calling for cooked chicken.
  • Brown up a double batch of ground turkey or beef. Perfect for spaghetti or tacos one night and anything calling for ground meat the next. I also like to have browned ground meat in the freezer for those last minute dinners ready to go.
  • It sounds fancy but it’s not: mirepoix. This is the oh-so-common blend of onions, carrots and celery that goes perfectly in soups, pot pies and stews. (Hello, crock pot!) I do a combo of two parts onion, one part carrot and one part celery. One night might be chicken pot pie while minestrone is on the menu later in the week. This combo can also be frozen.
  • Pork tenderloin is also ideal for double duty dinners. It can easily be cooked in the crockpot or oven and is simple to prepare without a lot of fuss. I love pork tenderloin one night followed by sandwiches or a stir fry another night.

Slow Cooker Dinners:

The humble slow cooker is every person’s savior at the end of a busy day. With some planning the night before or the morning of, it’s easy to put all the ingredients in in the morning to be welcomed by a fantastic meal in the evening. We enjoy slow cooker meals on those days where my afternoon meal prep is limited due to activities or not being home.  Here are some of my favorite slow cooker meals – perfect for busy nights or lazy weekends.

15 Minute Dinners:

There are days or even weeks where you may not have a lot of time for meal prep before dinner. I like to have some super fast yet healthier options that don’t require fast food runs, boxed or canned food or unhealthy meals. For us, these meals are some of the kids’ favorites- go figure!  Here are some of our go-to ideas:

SALAD BAR: We utilize this meal when our produce drawer is getting a little too full of random vegetables or we have leftover chicken from another nights meal. I love using a box or bag of greens and simply wash and prep all those veggies that are just hanging out. I put everything out in bowls for everyone to make their own salad, making sure that there is protein included somewhere like meat or cheese to fill up those tummies.  Burrito bowls are another fun option if you have some leftover browned, ground meat, add some beans to stretch it out and turn it into a yummy burrito bowl.

SANDWICH BAR: This is similar to our salad bar routine where everyone can put together their own sandwich. The options are plentiful – lunch meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers etc.  If you are feeling extra fancy, try a panini bar with your favorite spreads like pesto or tapenade.

STIR FRY:  Stir fries are a quick, easy and one dish kind of meal. All a stir fry needs is a sauce, protein, veggies, and rice or noodles (we love buckwheat Soba noodles at our house).  Check out this post with all sorts of stir fry prep and freeze ideas and a FREE printable.

Themed Dinners:

If you or your family are fans of predictability, theme meal planning may be perfect for you. Using this method, each day of the week is assigned a theme and dinner is planned accordingly. For example, Monday may be pasta night, Tuesday salad night and Wednesday pizza night. Looking for some themes to get you started?  Here are a couple ideas for inspiration:

  • Meatless
  • Italian
  • Slow cooker
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Pizza
  • Grilled
  • Salad – just about every Monday is salad night at my house
  • Soup/Stew
  • Casserole or hot dish
  • Leftovers
  • Mexican
  • Kids Night (kids plan and prep or kids choice)
  • Sandwich
  • Chicken

 Have a tip or idea to add?  Leave it in the comments!

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Menu Planning 101

Menu Planning 101 - How to Get Dinner on the Table with Ease via Clean Mama

If you’re feeling like everything just ramped up and life just got really busy in a hurry, you’re not alone.  The fall can be a really busy time and if your house is anything like mine, getting dinner on the table in a hurry is a must.  Over the next month or two I’m going to be sharing some time saving menu planning tips, tricks and shortcuts that I think you’ll really enjoy.  I love menu planning and interestingly enough my kids really enjoy knowing ‘what’s for dinner’ before 5pm and if I’m being honest, so do I.

First things first, let’s just state that every home is different, every schedule is different, and expectations are different.  If you’ve never planned meals ahead, this is probably going to sound complicated, overwhelming, and not worth it.  If you’ve planned your menu before you get it – it’s worth the effort.  Today I’m going to share some basics and a place to start – and just do that, start!

Gather the supplies that you think will be helpful – here are a couple ideas to get you started.  This how I menu plan, with ALL my menu planning tools at the ready.  I feel a little more inspired when I gather a couple cookbooks and a little inspiration.  Maybe you just want to grab a scrap of paper and a cookbook and keep it at that – you can menu plan without the hoopla, but it does make it a little more fun.

Here’s what you need to get started menu planning:

  • A PLACE TO WRITE THE MENU ON – do you want to plan week by week or would you rather plan a whole month at a time?  There are so many options from your wall calendar, a tablet, a notepad, a piece of paper on the refrigerator, a chalkboard, a dry erase board, a picture frame with a dry erase marker….
  • INSPIRATION – where do you find your recipes?  Get those things out (cookbooks, websites)- if you’re planning out a month at a time, you’ll probably need a couple more resources.  Personally, I use Pinterest, and a couple other tried and true websites for recipes, but if there’s one that I want to try, I’ll print it out and place it in the ‘recipes to try’ section of my recipe binder.  If it’s a keeper, it will get moved to the appropriate category in the binder.
  • TRIED AND TRUE RECIPES – trying out new recipes all the time is not an efficient use of time or resources.  Every once in a while I’ll cook exclusively from a new cookbook for a week or so, but that’s when we don’t have anything going on in the afternoons/evenings.  Have favorite recipes that come together in a snap AND your family enjoys – I keep these in my recipe binder.
  • GAME PLAN – decide WHEN you’ll do your menu planning, keep it simple, and make a grocery list at the same time.  Doing these simple things will ensure success for your menu planning.  If you need to have each night revolve around a theme, (meatless Monday, new recipe Tuesday, kids’ choice Wednesday, etc.) set a couple themes and get started.
  • COOK ONCE – EAT TWICE – this is my saving grace in the kitchen and I’ll be talking about this quite a bit during the series.  I am all about simplifying the time spent in the kitchen and try to spend 30 minutes getting dinner on the table.  That said, if I am cooking once, I might as well double the recipe and freeze some, or make enough for leftovers the next night.  Put this right into your menu plan – it’ll save you a ton of time and energy – I promise!

I hope that gives you a starting point and inspires your to put a little effort into planning your menu – it’ll pay off in time spent around the table with your family, money saved because food isn’t wasted, and energy trying to figure out ‘what’s for dinner’.  In case you’re curious, I menu plan on Fridays and do the grocery shopping then as well.  I have to pick up a couple things during the week, but get the majority of the shopping taken care of on Fridays (catch-all day for my cleaning routine).

Interested in more?  Here are some menu planning posts and links to some of the products shown:

I LOVE cookbooks and will never get rid of them in lieu of going paperless – I only keep the ones that are in the rotation, but they do get a lot of use and for me, it makes cooking and planning meals more enjoyable.  If you’re of that same mindset, you’ll probably like this post:

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning via Clean Mama

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning

I find that the easiest way to keep track of meals that I want to make is to bookmark them or pin them on my Pinterest account, but most of the time I’ll print the recipe from the site and put it straight into my Recipe Binder.  If I am putting together a menu for a get-together I’ll gather the recipes I need and quickly put together the menu and shopping list.  I love make-ahead meals (I even have a section for it in my binder) because they allow for the prepping to take place ahead of time.

How to Create a Recipe Binder System that Works via Clean Mama

 Need some ideas for menu planning?  Just click on the images below!

Busy Week Menu Plan - 7 Time Saving Meals for a Busy Week via Clean Mama

Busy Week Menu Plan - Take 2 - 7 Time Saving Recipes for a Busy Week via Clean Mama

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + Free Printable List via Clean Mama

If you need a little help with your menu planning, I have an adorable menu planning notepad in my shop and menu planning kits as well. Click on the images below to see them in my shop.

Menu Plan for the Week - Full - Clean Mama

On the Menu Clean Mama Printables

Clean Mama's Recipe Binder Kit via Clean Mama

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Busy Week Menu Plan – 7 Time Saving Meals

Busy Week Menu Plan - 7 Time Saving Meals for a Busy Week via Clean Mama

If you menu plan you know that having a plan for dinner is a huge time and money saver.  Over the next couple weeks I’m going to share my favorite busy week meal ideas, perfect for busy spring schedules (and spring cleaning!). I’m including a couple adjustments that I make to make the recipes work for us.

I menu plan for the week, I take a look at our schedule, our busier days and days that may allow for a little more time in the kitchen.  We stick to a fairly healthy diet without a lot of boxed and prepackaged foods loaded with who-knows-what. All of these meals are kid friendly and fan favorites – enjoy!

SHREDDED BBQ CHICKEN BURGERS VIA WHAT’S GABY COOKING
This comes together easily as most of the work is done in the crockpot. Add some fresh fruit and vegies to round it out and keep it simple.

GRILLED CHICKEN PINEAPPLE QUESADILLAS VIA THE PIONEER WOMAN
We love quesadillas and this sweet and tangy variation is a fun twist.  Picky little ones?  Make plain cheese ones for the kids.

HAM AND CHEESE SLIDERS VIA THE GIRL WHO ATE EVERYTHING
This one is pure comfort food with soft rolls, melted cheese and an easy mustard based sauce. We substitute turkey or chicken for the ham with great results. If I have extra time, I’ll make a batch of homemade rolls in a pie plate instead of store bought.

OLIVE GARDEN COPYCAT MINESTRONE SOUP (SLOW COOKER) VIA COOKING CLASSY
This vegetarian soup is loaded with all kinds of veggies to make for a healthy yet flavorful soup. It’s perfect for busy days when you don’t have much time. Throw the ingredients in in the morning and let simmer away until dinner. Serve with some fresh bread for dunking.

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, CUCUMBERS, LEMON, DILL AND FETA VIA TWO PEAS AND THEIR POD
We love pasta salad and we love the fresh flavors of lemon and dill in this orzo salad. You can easily make it in the morning or during a quiet time of your day and let the flavors blend until dinner. Serve with some fresh seasonal fruit.

BAREFOOT CONTESSA TURKEY MEATLOAF VIA BAREFOOT CONTESSA
This recipe makes a HUGE meatloaf or two which may be perfect for company or leftovers the next day. I also half the recipe with great success if you want a one night kind of recipe. Lean and full of flavor, this goes great with mashed sweet potatoes and a simple vegetable.

GINGER CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS STIR FRY VIA MEL’S KITCHEN
Stir fry comes together quickly and is a favorite meal for us. Prep your vegetables earlier in the day to minimize your mealtime prep. Serve over some brown rice.

If you need a little help with your menu planning, I have an adorable menu planning notepad in my shop and menu planning kits as well. Click on the images below to see them in my shop.

Menu Plan for the Week - Full - Clean Mama

On the Menu Clean Mama Printables

Clean Mama's Recipe Binder Kit via Clean Mama

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Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + FREE PRINTABLE LIST

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + Free Printable List via Clean Mama

I love cooking and baking but figuring out ways to spend less time in the kitchen is important to me.  Prepping for meals is easy when I have a couple easy meal starters at the ready in the freezer.  This is the best way to simplify busy weeknights and still get a healthy meal on the table for our family.  Today’s post is intended to help you think about ways to simplify your meal planning by planning ahead a bit and doing a little quick prep to stock that freezer.

My latest addition is a huge hit in our house and a super yummy one-bowl meal with lots of room for variation.  I’ve been making stir fry veggie bags and I have to tell you it’s the perfect quick prep meal starter.  Choose your family’s favorite veggies – I like using squash (yellow and green), red onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, and snap peas.  The options are endless and really depend on your taste and supermarket availability.  I use the stir fry veggies as a side dish – tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Better yet, I also add the veggies to a protein like chicken or steak and add a stir fry sauce and serve with rice or Soba noodles.  So good and so easy.

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + Free Printable List - Stir Fry Veggies + Free Printable List

If you haven’t tried doing some quick-prep work for the freezer, you’ll find that it’s so much easier than prepping entire meals because you can prep for multiple meals at a time and cut your cooking time down to minutes.  Here’s a great list to get you started!  Choose one or two things to try in the next week or two to load up your freezer.  I like to add a little bit every week and it makes meal planning and preparing so much easier.  Enjoy!

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer via Clean Mama

Download this FREE printable Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer List here!

On the Menu Clean Mama Printables

If you like this free printable, you’ll love the Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.

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FREE Make-Ahead Menu Recipe List Printable

Organize Your Menu Planning with this FREE Printable Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

Make-ahead recipes are my saving grace in the kitchen.  Yesterday I shared 8 of my favorite make-ahead recipes and today I thought it would be fun to share a free printable to jot down make-ahead recipes to try or just to keep as a list.  Use it in your recipe binder or in your homekeeping planner – but the next time you’re trying to plan out your menu for the week, take a peek at the list and you’ll have some easy recipes to get you started.

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

I’m a bit of a cookbook collector/hoarder – these are my 4 favorite make-ahead cookbooks…. America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2; The New Slow Cooker; Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast Make Ahead (hard to find); and The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

Favorite Make-Ahead Cookbooks via Clean Mama

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List Courtesy of Clean Mama

Grab the FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List here in my shop or here on Googledocs.

This FREE printable coordinates perfectly with my brand new Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.  It’s a great addition to the kit or use it by itself – there is a Recipes to Try List and a Family Favorites List in the same format as this free make-ahead menu printable in the kit.  You can see the entire Everyday Line here in my shop, and read more about the whole Everyday Line here on the blog.

Clean Mama's Everyday Menu Planning Kit Clean Mama Printables

 

 

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8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change Your Menu Planning

8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change your Menu Planning via Clean Mama

Menu planning is one of those things that if you do it you can’t stop talking about how great it is and if you don’t menu plan, you can’t stop complaining about why you need to start.  If you’re looking for a few new winning recipes or looking to start simplifying your meal times, this little round up is the perfect thing to get you started.  The majority of the recipes are in our dinner rotation and I think you might add them to yours too!  (Recipes appear in order – top down and left to right.)  Here’s a link to a FREE printable to use for your make-ahead menu planning!

  1. Shredded BBQ Chicken Burgers – Place some of this slow cooker goodness on a bun, slather it with guacamole and shredded cheese. What’s not to love? Via What’s Gaby Cooking
  2. Homemade Frozen Pizza– This fan favorite is just about the easiest in the book. Make a batch of these homemade pizzas to stash in the freezer for those busy nights. Dinner is on the table in under half in hour! Via Love and Olive Oil
  3. Olive Garden Minestrone Soup – All you need to round out this homey, delicious and vegetarian soup is a salad or some bread. Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and have a tasty dinner waiting for you come supper time. Via Cooking Classy
  4. Rotisserie- Style Whole Chicken – Who doesn’t love the ease of the classic rotisserie style chicken? Rather than stopping to pick one up on your way home for dinner, have one ready for you courtesy of your slow cooker. Via Design Mom
  5. Slow Cooker Turkey with No-Fuss Gravy – Who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving? Save the leftovers from this dinner for quesadillas or a salad the next day. Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
  6. Crockpot Brown Butter Marinara Sauce – Make your own marinara sauce rather than using a jar with this delicious homemade marinara sauce. Make a double batch and freeze half for the ultimate in easy dinners. Via Half Baked Harvest
  7. All-Purpose Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken – Nothing beats the versatility of shredded chicken for making all sorts of dinners. Perfect for pulling out of the freezer on a busy night for an easy meal. Via Mountain Mama Cooks
  8. Slow Cooker Ham with Maple Brown Sugar Glaze – Perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing leftovers, this ham is ideal for a “fancy” dinner without much fuss. Via Number 2 Pencil

Have a favorite make-ahead recipe or tip?  Share in the comments!

If you like these recipes, you’ll love my make ahead + freeze pinboard!

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