30 Minute Dinners to the Rescue

I don’t know about you, but there is something about summer that makes meal planning and labor intensive dinners so difficult to pull off.  Between kids activities and spending as much time as possible outside in the Midwest, easy dinners are what are helping to save my sanity this summer. Put away those boxes of mac and cheese and say goodbye to yet another sandwich and give one of these 30 minute or less dinner ideas a try instead.

Prep ahead these shish kabobs and throw them on the grill when you get home.

I love a good sheet pan recipe for an all-in-one, easy to clean up dinner.

The flavors in these gyros is refreshingly light and perfect for summer.

This Greek pasta salad comes together in no time and makes a ton. Perfect for leftovers the next day!

Salmon is the ideal meal when you want to have a healthy dinner that feels a little fancy but takes so little time to prep and cook.

Tacos are always a family favorite. These are fantastic using either turkey or beef.

This one pot pasta dish is so innovative. Bonus: less dishes to wash!

Nachos for dinner? You bet!

I love the combination of lemon and chicken in this skillet meal. Serve with a salad and dinner is ready.

Stir-fry is the ultimate one bowl meal. No sides necessary!

 

Have you seen the spiral bound Clean Mama Menu Planner?  It’s a game-changer when it comes to menu planning!

And a handful of menu planning posts I think you’ll love – just click on the images….

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

Customize Your Make Ahead Grilling and Get Together Menu via Clean Mama

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning via Clean Mama

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

Simple Weeknight Meals to Make this Week

Simple Weeknight Meals to Make this Week - Clean MamaThe start of the school year always has me feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to meal planning. After school activities, waiting in pickup line, and other errand running and odds and ends seem to creep closer and closer to dinnertime and leave me with less time to meal prep. On those days when I don’t have much time to plan and execute a complicated dinner, I love to have a handful of dinner options that require minimal brain power and time. Enter in the recipes I am sharing with you today.

These main course meal options are perfect for a busy evening and are family friendly. No crazy ingredients or fussy prep required. I like to pair them with a simple side like a steamed vegetable, salad, or fresh fruit. Try one this week and see what you think.

  • Rotisserie chicken to the rescue with these baked tacos smothered with homemade crema. Baked Chicken Street Tacos via Kleinworth Co.
  • These juicy and sweet meatballs are not only made in the slow cooker, but they make a big enough batch to freeze the leftovers or save for leftovers.  Slow Cooker Honey Buffalo Meatballs via Carlsbad Cravings
  • 20 minutes is all it takes to whip up this delightfully satisfying fresh pasta dish. 20-Minute Tomato Pesto Pasta via Mel’s Kitchen
  • The ultimate in comfort food, the grilled cheese sandwich gets a makeover with the addition of bacon, avocado and tomato. Turkey Bacon and Avocado Grilled Cheese via Tidy Mom
  • All the flavors of a classic Italian sandwich in salad form. The homemade dressings kicks it up a notch and adds the perfect amount of zing with every bite.  Italian Sub Salad via Wicked Spatula
  • This satisfying and creamy soup is the ideal one pot meal made even easier in the slow cooker. Paired with your favorite crusty bread, dinner is served. Crockpot Chicken Wild Rice Soup via Pinch of Yum

Don’t miss the Menu Planning Mini Challenge and make sure you download the FREE printables linked in the post!

Simple Weeknight Meals - Clean Mama

Check out these free printables and menu planning posts to inspire your menu planning!

Free Printable – Make Ahead Meals

Free Printable – What’s for Dinner? Weekly Menu Planner

Free Printable – Family Favorites

And a handful of menu planning posts I think you’ll love – just click on the images….

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

Customize Your Make Ahead Grilling and Get Together Menu via Clean Mama

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning via Clean Mama

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

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

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

Menu Planning : Family Favorites Free Printable

Family Favorites Free Printable - Clean Mama

One of my best tips and tricks for menu planning is to keep a running list of favorite recipes on hand in my recipe binder.  Yes, it’s easy to recall favorite recipes but sometimes when menu planning it’s hard to come up with winner-dinners.  I’m not saying that every night you need to knock it out of the park but it’s nice to have a list of favorite recipes to rely on for menu planning.

As part of the Menu Planning Mini Challenge I have this free printable for you – it’s part of the Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop here.  Print it out, make a list of favorites and next time you are stumped on what to make for dinner or plan for the next week, grab your list and choose a couple winners.

Free Printable - Family Favorites - Clean Mama

Download your FREE Family Favorites printable here!

If you like this free printable – here are 2 more free printables that match!

Make Ahead Meals

What’s for Dinner? Weekly Menu Planner

And a handful of menu planning posts I think you’ll love….

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

Customize Your Make Ahead Grilling and Get Together Menu via Clean Mama

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning via Clean Mama

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

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

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

Menu Planning Mini Challenge

I’m challenging myself (and you!) to a little MENU PLANNING MINI CHALLENGE this week!  Follow along on Instagram for each daily challenge.  I’ll be showing you my completed challenge in our home ‘live’ as it’s completed each day and sharing a couple posts throughout the week as well.

Menu Planning Mini Challenge - Clean Mama

The premise is that with about 15 minutes each day, we can put a little menu planning in place that will carry us through the busy months ahead. Menu planning is a huge time saver but if you don’t have time to start, it’s probably too much.  This week let’s get started and get a menu plan – I’ll have a fresh menu plan for you later this week with simple and easy recipes that’ll get you started.  I’m linking up some posts here that will be helpful if you’d like to check out what I’ve said before on menu planning.  I’ll be posting all of my live progress on Instagram so follow along or peek over there each day.

Make sure you sign up for my posts too!  I’ll be posting about menu planning this week as well – don’t miss a post!

Ready for a mini challenge?  Here are the tasks for each day:

MONDAY – Take a couple minutes to Declutter cookbooks – donate any cookbooks that you no longer use.  Keep cookbooks that you love and use.  If you have a couple extra minutes, put a sticky note or tab on any recipes that you might want to put in the meal rotation.

How to Organize Cookbooks for Better Menu Planning via Clean Mama

 

TUESDAY – Sort through any loose recipes and/or recipe binder – I love my recipe binders – they are one of my favorite organization tools.  BUT, sometimes I end up with a stack of recipes that I haven’t filed or haven’t made (good intentions, right?). Today is the day to go through any recipes that you need to file, make, or toss.  If you don’t have a recipe binder, go through recipe cards or your online recipe keeping method.

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

WEDNESDAY – make a list of family favorite recipes – If you’re looking for a method for menu planning, start by making a list of family favorites.  Try to come up with 20-30 favorite recipes – use this list as your base to start your menu planning.

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

THURSDAY – Make a menu plan for the coming week – free printable!  Make your menu plan for the coming week – need some help with ideas, start with your family favorites list and/or check out these posts – Busy Week Menu Plan(1) + Busy Week Menu Plan(2).

Whats-For-Dinner-FREE-Printable-main-via-Clean-Mama-3

FRIDAY – Make a grocery list and grocery shop for the coming week – these are in my shop if you’re interested (individually or as a menu planning kit)

Everyday Grocery Shopping Lists - Close-Up - Clean Mama copy

I love doing mini challenges – here’s the last one I did – Fall Organization Mini challenge.

Quick Tip : Salad on Mondays

Quick Menu Planning Tip - Salad on Mondays - Clean Mama

Today I have a quick menu planning tip that I’ve been implementing for probably close to a year.  It’s nothing revolutionary, but it saves me time in the kitchen, uses up leftovers, and is a really simple way to get a quick supper on the table.

Salad on Mondays

The concept is simple – use up leftovers from the weekend, make a healthy salad for supper, and it’s quick and easy.

Here’s what I always use:

  • salad mix – pre-washed or this blend
  • grilled leftovers – use up that lone chicken breast or steak leftover from the weekend
  • veggies – tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, grilled corn, mushrooms….
  • cheese – I either grate some or use up leftovers from the weekend (sliced, crumbled, shredded)

And then if any of these items are in the refrigerator, they get chopped up and get tossed in too:

  • lunch meat – if there’s any in the fridge I slice it up and toss it in
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • bacon

Add dressing – I either make a quick oil and vinegar or use a favorite ranch dressing.  

That’s it!  This concept could be used any night of the week – give it a whirl, dinner on the table in under 10 minutes on a Monday night is a big win in our house!

What if you have littles that won’t eat salad?

Put the components on a plate (minus the lettuce) and give them a little bit of dressing to dip the salad fixings in – easy peasy and a bit of a novelty so kids like it 🙂

 

Simple Salad Hack : Chopped Salad

Simple Salad Hack - Chopped Salad - Clean MamaI’ve got a great salad hack for you today that I know you’ll love (if you like salads or are trying to eat more of them).  Even our kids love this salad mix and it’s easy to prepare ahead and even easier to get a nutritious dinner and salad on the table.  Here’s how I use this DIY salad mix:

  • Prep ahead for 2-3 nights of side salads – wash and dry greens and veggies and put in a bag with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  • Put dressing and other ingredients in the bottom of a mason jar and put the greens on top.  Shake when ready to eat – instant lunch.
  • Dinner salad – add a protein and a couple other ingredients like tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, nuts, and favorite dressing.  Our favorite salad?  Barbecue chicken and ranch dressing with cheddar cheese – yum!

Here’s how to make your own chopped salad mix at home – you just need a couple ingredients and about 15 minutes to wash and cut your veggies.  I use baby kale and baby romaine because it’s smaller and has a good texture that my kids will eat.  I buy pre-washed lettuce and organic produce when I can – that’s just my preference because it’s quick and easy.  Feel free to adapt and change to fit your taste!

Chopped Salad Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • red cabbage
  • green cabbage
  • green onions
  • baby kale
  • baby romaine
  • carrots – I use the pre-shredded variety

Prep your greens – this is what I do for 2-3 days of salads for our family of 5:

  1. Wash and cut up or shred in food processor, half a head of each cabbage (keep the other half in the fridge for later in the week).
    Chop Ingredients - Clean Mama
  2. Wash and cut up 3-5 green onions.  If you’re not into onions, leave them out.
  3. Chop about 3 ounces each of pre-washed baby kale and romaine.  I use a food prep scissors to make this really quick and easy.
    Chopped Salad - Clean Mama
  4. Add about a cup of shredded or chopped carrots.
    Chopped Salad - Clean Mama
  5. Combine ingredients and portion out enough for dinner that night and then pre-portion any remaining for lunches and dinner for the next 2-3 days.  I use zip top bags with a paper towel in it to absorb moisture for a larger amount and canning jars for individual lunch servings.

Store Chopped Salad - Clean Mama

I love menu planning and looking for ways to make dinner a little easier.

Here’s a FREE printable just for you:

Whats-For-Dinner-FREE-Printable-main-via-Clean-Mama-2

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.

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!

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.21.41 PM

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

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!

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

Make-Ahead Grilling and Get-Together Menu Plan

Make Ahead Grilling and Get Together Menu via Clean Mama
With spring finally on our doorstep here in the Midwest and summer knocking on our door, it’s time to start thinking ahead to all the holidays, seasonal cookouts, barbecues and get-togethers. I enjoy doing as much as possible ahead of time so that I can enjoy time with family and friends versus spending it all in the kitchen. Grilling is perfect for taking the mess out of the kitchen and keeping your kitchen clean. It also lends itself to some wonderful food!
Below you will find all sorts of delicious recipes and links for tried and true food that can easily be prepared ahead of time so that you can relax a bit and engage in some good conversation and fellowship instead of being MIA working on all the food prep. Take a peek at some of these recipes for your next get-together.  Choose a main dish or two, add a couple sides, and a dessert and you’ll all be set for meal and Happy grilling and get-togethers!
Customize Your Make Ahead Grilling and Get Together Menu via Clean Mama

MAIN DISHES

SIDE DISHES

DESSERTS

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 quick 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

Busy Week Menu Plan – Take 2 – 7 More Time Saving Meals for a Busy Week

Busy Week Menu Plan - Take 2 - 7 Time Saving Recipes for a Busy Week via Clean MamaThis post is one of those bossy posts where I tell you to try menu planning.  If you don’t menu plan and you need a reason to, these seven recipes are it.  Seriously, go to the links, print them out and make them.  You probably only need to choose your favorite 5 or 6 recipes because there’s most likely going to be leftovers from a couple of them.  Plan for leftovers – it’s the secret to easy menu planning!  Once you’ve printed out the recipes, put them in order for the week ahead and make a shopping list of what you’ll need.  Take the list to the store, buy your ingredients and get ready to sail through dinnertime in the next week.  If you love the recipe, save the print out and put it in your menu planning rotation.  Last week I shared another roundup of some of my favorite busy week meal ideas, perfect for busy spring schedules (and spring cleaning!).

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!

GRILLED CAPRESE SANDWICH VIA I HEART NAPTIME
Fancy up your sandwich routine with a grilled Caprese sandwich. Serve with a side of fruit for a 10 minute meal!

CAESAR CHICKEN WRAPS VIA THE BAKER UPSTAIRS
We are big fans of these delicious Caesar Chicken Wraps in my home.  They come together in under 10 minutes and the kids love them too!  I like to use a rotisserie chicken to keep it even easier or pull out some precooked, cut up chicken from the freezer.  Make a double batch for company or to guarantee leftovers.

ONE POT BAKED ZITI VIA NUMBER 2 PENCIL
One pot meals are perfect for those nights when you want minimal prep with minimal clean up. This one pot baked ziti comes together in a snap and can be easily modified using ground turkey or made vegetarian if you want.

GREEN CHILE CHICKEN ENCHILADA STACKS VIA MEL’S KITCHEN CAFE
These green chile chicken enchilada stacks provide just a little bit of heat with a lot of creamy, delicious flavor. Prep the sauce ahead of time if you are short on time in the evening and simply stack and bake.

GREEK SALAD VIA DAMN DELICIOUS
Served with a baguette or crusty bread, this Greek Salad with homemade lemon dressing comes together in a hurry. Perfect for when you want a light meal.

CHEESE TORTELLINI SOUP VIA LIFE IN GRACE BLOG
In the mood for a hearty, healthy soup that comes together in 30 minutes? This Cheese Tortellini Soup from Life in Grace is easy to put together and makes enough for leftovers!

CROCK POT BEEF SANDWICHES VIA THIRTY HANDMADE DAYS
These crock pot beef sandwiches are absolutely delicious! I like to make a double batch and freeze half to use for another night or use in enchiladas or quesadillas. If you are feeling extra fancy, make a batch of homemade rolls to go with!

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

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

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.

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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