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. 

Dinner time is always easier when you prep ahead. This week, we’ve included some make-ahead weeknight meals so you can enjoy some stress-free time with family. Plus, check out our Friday fish dinner – you’ll never go out for a fish fry again!

And if you ever need meal ideas, feel free to ask us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Meatless Monday

Lunch: Make a batch of this budget-friendly Corn and Salsa Tortilla Soup over the weekend to enjoy all week long.

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Romesco Sauce is a filling vegetarian meal. Double the sauce to use on your favorite pasta later in the week!

Snack: Have a fun and healthy Parfait (yogurt layered with your favorite mix-ins like fruit, crushed graham crackers, or even chocolate chips!) for a snack with a creative twist.


Lunch: Enjoy Italian Pasta Salad with Sausage cold or at room temperature – perfect for brown bagging it.

Dinner: Polenta Deep-Dish White Pizza with Mushrooms and Sausage is a great weekday meal to assemble earlier in the day and bake when you are ready to serve. Bonus – it’s gluten free!

Snack: A small slice of Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread rounds out the night. It’s also a great recipe for novice bakers – it comes together in just minutes!


Lunch: Chicken or Turkey Quesadilla Suizas (Pizzas) is a quick and tasty lunch. In a time crunch? Use leftover chicken or even deli turkey.

Dinner: A one-pot meal full of family favorites, Chicken and Rice Pilaf Skillet Supper will be a regular in your weekday repertoire.

Dessert: Happy Wednesday! Don’t wait for a special occasion to make Birthday Cookie Cake.


Lunch: The kids will love Pizza Sausage Dogs. These are tasty at room temperature, too, so they’re perfect for packed lunches.

Dinner: Meatloaf and Potato Pileup highlights classic meatloaf in a casserole with veggies, potatoes and cheese sauce. You’ll want to make it again and again! Prep the casserole earlier in the day – or even the night before – if you’d like.

Snack: Salt and Vinegar Popcorn is a smart replacement over your favorite potato chips. Get some servings of whole grains and say goodbye to boring butter flavor!

Fish-Fry Friday

Lunch: You’ll realize how perfect the name is when you make this Great Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. Roasted veggies work well in this recipe, too.

Dinner: Skip going out for a Friday Fish Fry and make this lovely (and better for you!) Fish Picatta with Thin Spaghetti Asparagus, Green Beans and Peas. Note: This dish is equally delicious prepared with chicken.

Snack: Smoked Eggplant Hummus adds a flavorful twist to this favorite dip. Serve with freshly cut veggies or whole grain pita chips for a great bite!

Entertaining Saturday

Brunch: Green Chili Corn Waffles with Crispy Chicken are a delish anytime meal.

Dinner: Deviled Burgers with Crispy “O” Rings and Spicy Ketchup are perfect for casual entertaining and, yes, the onion rings go right on the burger. Yum! If you don’t have pretzel rolls on-hand (but are they ever worth a special trip to the store!), serve with your favorite hamburger roll.

Cocktail: Go back in time and serve up a classic Side Car tonight.

Family Sunday

Brunch: Show your love by treating the family to homemade Cinnamon Rolls. They may take a little effort, but they’re well worth it.

Dinner: Mulled Cider Beef with Potato Turnip Mash is a classic Sunday supper.

Dessert: End the week on a light and refreshing note that hints at beautiful summer months to come. Pineapple with Lime and Coconut is healthy and quick to put together.

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Rachael Ray