The Foolproof Weeknight Meal Planning feature is a weekly series on Smells Like Home which maps out five fantastic family-friendly meal ideas for busy weeknights. You’ll usually find at least one meatless option and you’ll always find a delicious dessert…because we all need a little sweetness in our lives!
It’s time to bust out the grills in most of the U.S. (except…sob!…New England) so get ready for some killer sausage burgers coming at ya this week! We start the week with Meatless Monday and my all-time favorite pasta salad, followed up with Tex-Mex Tuesday, those sausage burgers on Wednesday, a batch of to-die-for sliders on Thursday, and a treat on Friday night – brinner! I leave you with a decadent homemade dark chocolate pudding that you’ll whip up in only 10 minutes. This is my kind of quick food – let this meal plan make your life a little easier too!
roasted veggie, feta, orzo salad: My absolute favorite pasta salad!! It’s loaded with deeply flavored roasted vegetables and a quick and simple-to-make lemon garlic vinaigrette which is truly the star of the dish. The feta adds a salty punch to this savory meal but crumbled goat cheese, gouda, or smoked mozzarella would be just as incredible.
Tip: The veggies you roast for this salad can vary – use what your family likes. To save time during the week, cut the hardy veggies (like peppers and mushrooms) up and make the vinaigrette a couple days in advance.
baked chicken burritos with roasted poblano-sour cream sauce: These burritos are for those nights when you’re contemplating take-out. Forget it! On the table in about half an hour and filled to the brim with Tex-Mex-y ground chicken and black beans, this meal couldn’t be more perfect. The sour cream-poblano sauce is spicy and cool at the same time (dial back on the pepper if you need to) and it’s a genius sauce since it reheats perfectly for leftovers.
Tip: Leftovers are my best friend on many weeknights and I never allow them to be blah. The recipe yields 4-5 large burritos so double it for large families and reheat the leftovers another night first in the microwave and then in the oven to crisp up the tortilla. Serve with a side of world famous black beans or roasted corn salad and call dinner done!
baked ham and cheese sliders: Never will you meet a sandwich that disappears literally before your eyes. The first time I made these sliders, my friends were pulling them off of the baking sheet before I could set it on the counter. Salty ham, melted Swiss, and a blow-your-mind poppy seed sauce that bakes into the slider roll. Who knew sandwiches could make people so happy!?
Tip: You can quickly assemble a whole batch of these sliders while the oven preheats, throw them in to bake, and come back in 15 minutes to a full tray of hot melty sandwiches. No need to fuss of side dishes either – a tossed salad, cut-up fruit, or some crunchy chips are all you need here.
sausage burgers with garlicky spinach and sun-dried tomato pesto: Anyone who loves sausage will LOVE these burgers. You’ll season some ground sausage a basic Italian herb mix then top the cooked burgers sharp provolone cheese, some quickly sautéed garlicky spinach, and a layer of sun-dried tomato pesto. These gourmet burgers are simple enough to throw together on a busy weeknight or fancy enough to serve to company on the weekend.
Tip: Shape the burger patties the day before to plan to make them and keep them wrapped tightly on a plate in the fridge. You can make the pesto up to two weeks ahead to really save yourself some time but if you’re in a pinch, it only takes 5 minutes to whip up in the food processor anyway.
friday night brinner
toasted coconut chocolate chunk pancakes: If you’re like me and breakfast for dinner (aka brinner) is truly one of your favorite things in life, let these pancakes rock your world. Toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks stuffed up inside a fluffy buttermilk pancake may seem more like a dessert but it’s Friday night so who cares!
Tip: Toast a baking sheet full of sweetened shredded coconut up to one week ahead, let it cool completely, and store the coconut in a zip-top bag or resealable container at room temperature. This simple step will save you 20 minutes on a busy weeknight – I know I’ve never complained about giving myself extra time!
don’t forget about dessert!
dark chocolate pudding with espresso whipped cream: Homemade pudding is SO much easier to make than you think! So ditch the box, bust out the milk, cornstarch (for thickening in place of eggs), chocolate, sugar, and your favorite whisk and go to town. In 10 minutes you’ll be filling up a bunch of little (or big!) bowls and while you run around doing laundry, making dinner, picking up the kids, washing dinner off the walls, checking homework (etc.etc.etc.), this decadent dark chocolate pudding will set up in the fridge just in time for dessert. How can you go wrong?
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