Weekly Meal Planner: 21 Cost-Effective Ideas

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’re featuring that affordable and friendly dinner staple – chicken – and providing some easy, new and delicious recipes your whole family will love. Oh, and please be sure to check out the Guacamole Egg Salad BLT’s. It’s the perfect combination of three favorite noshes in one!

Don’t know what to cook? Need help with a recipe? Feel free to ask us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Meatless Monday

Lunch: Everyone’s favorite childhood lunch is on the menu today – Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. Go ahead and dunk! Use whatever bread you have on-hand if you don’t have pumpernickel.

Dinner: Roasted Pea and Carrot Pasta is another tasty Meatless Monday dish that’s delightful for lunch the next day, too!

Snack: White Bean and Sesame Spread is a delicious dipper paired with charred bread, pita or veggies.


Lunch: Guacamole + egg salad + a BLT + one out-of-this-world lunch. Guacamole Egg Salad BLT’s are delicious enjoyed as a sandwich or a dip.

Dinner: Chicken Francaise with Tarragon Tricolor Salad is affordable, light and quick. What’s not to love?

Dessert: Nena’s Oat Berry Bars are a yummy anytime snack. Feel free to use your family’s favorite jam.


Lunch: Potato Soup with the Works – Budget-Friendly Version is a decadent, loaded baked potato in a soup.

Dinner: Take it easy tonight and make this perfect springtime soup, Chicken and Snap Peas with Leeks, ahead of time and reheat for an easy weeknight meal.

Snack: Apple Bacon Cheddar Crostini is a surprising snack that’s easy enough for a weekday but perfect for entertaining as well. Turkey bacon would work well if you are in a pinch.


Lunch: Bacon Cheeseburger Quesadillas take the best of two favorite sammies and make one delicious dish. Genius!

Dinner: Make Mushroom, Asparagus and Chicken Sauté with Rice Pilaf for a family-friendly dinner.

Dessert: Chocolate-Coconut Thumbprints play off the flavors of one of your favorite candy bars. You won’t be able to eat just one!


Lunch: Fiesta Couscous is a healthy and flavorful brown bag or at-home lunch. Add additional veggies or leftover chicken, pork or turkey if you’d like.

Dinner: Pair a green salad with Broccoli Rabe Melts and you have a no-fuss Friday night dinner. These are equally delicious with broccoli spears.

Snack: Aloha Nachos are a sweet and savory snack perfect for munching after school or while watching a Friday night movie.

Entertaining Saturday

Brunch: Sweet and slightly spicy, Ginger Pancakes are something special. They taste like gingerbread in a pancake!

Dinner: Fire up the grill tonight and prepare Herb Chicken Kabobs with Chimichurri. Serve with warmed pitas and a Greek salad for a healthy dinner perfect for entertaining.

Cocktail: Kick off grilling season with a fruity, fizzy cocktail: Sparkling Sangria.

Family Sunday

Brunch: Spanish-Style Ham and Eggs will keep the family satisfied until dinner. Don’t skip the broiled grapefruit drizzled with honey!

Dinner: Brined Brisket is the perfect Sunday supper. Be sure to plan ahead for brining time – this one takes 1 to 2 days, but it’s worth it! The leftovers will make delicious sandwiches that are fantastic for brown bagging.

Dessert: Apple Pot Pies are adorable and delicious. Prepared pie crust makes this dessert a snap!

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Rachael Ray