MealPlannerMain10 post-image
Emily Wyckoff

21 Meal Ideas for Busy Families

Welcome to the Weekly Meal Planner! Whether you work all day and are out of steam when the dinner hour hits, or are fresh out of  ideas and in a cooking rut, we are here to make your life easier. 

This week, we feature a number of recipes that can easily be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen in individual servings to enjoy for future meals. We’ll also find fast ways to spruce up old favorites and try new flavors. Perfect for busy families!

No matter what you’ve whipped up, as long as you’re sitting around a table and enjoying a meal together, that’s what counts. Have a great week!

Meatless Monday


Lunch: The fried bread on the side puts this Mushroom Soup with Marsala over the top. Use your favorite bakery bread for dipping.

Dinner: Quick Bean and Porcini Ragu is a hearty vegetarian meal for Meatless Monday.

Snack: Swiss Chard Au Gratin French Bread Pizzas are a great snack to nibble on while watching your favorite shows. Not a Swiss chard fan? Spinach is a perfect swap.



Lunch: Quick Chicken Soup with Pasta will cure any mid-winter cold in a delicious way. Pro tip: Be sure to keep the pasta separate from the soup until you’re ready to serve – it will keep the pasta from getting mushy!

Dinner: Brighten up your family’s Tuesday with this Italian classic: Chicken Parmigiana. To save on time, make the sauce the previous weekend (or use a high quality jarred sauce in a pinch).

Snack: Pumpkin isn’t just for the holidays! Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies add a nutritional boost to classic chocolate chip.



Lunch: Perk up your favorite sandwich with these innovative and delish Sandwich Spreads.

Dinner: Chicken Ragu with Fennel is a quick and easy weeknight meal. Ground turkey, or even lean ground beef, are easy substitutes.

Dessert: No one will be able to resist Crazy Addictive Saltine Toffee. We dare you to try.



Lunch: Slow Cooker Moroccan Lentil Soup does double-duty as both a soup and a stew served over rice.

Dinner: Breakfast for dinner is always fun. The Ultimate Breakfast for Dinner: Sausage and Spinach Egg Strata can be made the night before for weeknight ease.

Snack: This healthy Avocado Bean Dip screams summer but can be made all year round. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or pita crisps.



Lunch: Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? English muffins stand-in for bread with this yummy Inside-Out English Muffin Grilled Cheese.

Dinner: Usher in the weekend with Taco Pockets – taco-inspired burgers wrapped in warm flour tortillas. TGIF!

Dessert: Dress up store-bought pound cake with Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Sauce.

Entertaining Saturday


Brunch: Quinoa Pancakes are a great way to incorporate quinoa into your diet. You can find the flour in most grocery stores in the natural foods section.

Dinner: Have a a fun and casual interactive dinner with your guests when you serve Cheesesteak Meatballs with Provolone Fondue. Make sure to have a big green salad on the side!

Cocktail: Melba Bellinis brighten up any brunch or cocktail hour.

Family Sunday


Brunch: Introduce your family to something new – savory oatmeal and breakfast meatballs – with Fennel, Rosemary, and Honey Oatmeal with Chicken Sausage Meatballs. Yes, it works!

Dinner: Grandpa’s Braised Beef is a comforting one-pot meal.

Dessert: Individual Pear Tatins sound fancy but are super easy. They have six ingredients and the puff pastry does all the work. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

12 Responses to “21 Meal Ideas for Busy Families”

  1. Lena says:

    I was looking for your recipe that had the sliced potatoes and onions, but am unable to find it.

    • Jenn Giacoppo says:

      Hi Lena! Do you mind giving me a few more details about the recipe? I would be happy to track it down for you! Thanks – Jenn,

  2. Linda says:

    There was a recipe for Meatless lasagna baked in a loaf pan recently posted on Rachael Ray. I would like a copy but I’m unable to find it. It would be perfect for my husband and I.
    Thank You
    Linda Mae

  3. Kenneth Blevins says:

    My wife is a daily viewer of your show. This morning she asked me to download the 21 recipes that you featured on your show this morning. I found out that you don’t have a way to download these recipes. Rather than getting these recipes one at a time it sure would be good to download them all at one time.

  4. Judy Kightlinger says:

    I have a question for you. My family is having a get to gather and it is pot luck of sorts. I love to go out for Mexican dishes, therefor I really don’t fix those dishes. Yes, the pot luck dishes are to be Mexican dishes. I don’t want to make tacos as one of my sister-in-laws is fixing them. So do you have a favorite Mexican or Southwestern dish I could fix? Thanks in advance.

  5. I am looking for a chocolate almond cake pop . Please Help!

  6. Mary Oberholzer says:

    Hi.. watch RR show and i am looking for a recipe with roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic that you put in blende heat and put over posta. Looked easy and yummy. Sometime around Feb.12-20 2014 Thanks,Mary

Leave a Reply