Meal planning is hard and you would think that the internet would make it easier, but, in a lot of ways it makes it harder. I mean- you google search “easy meal ideas for weeknights” and you still get recipes that call for fresh herbs and the chopping of multiple vegetables and the dirtying of four pans. Maybe they think that if they say it  only takes 20 minutes, then that will actually be true. And then there’s also the thing that sometimes you don’t even have 20 minutes.

And there’s the bigger problem- you don’t just have to provide food for 1 night, but multiple nights. And when you do your grocery shopping, you have to consider multiple meals.

Anyway- so I’m going to post my dinner planning from last week so there’s at least one set of dinner plans on the internet that will live up to the “actually easy weeknight meal ideas” title.

Actually Easy Weeknight Meals, Part 1

Sun: “Special” Salad – I call it “special” because it was a salad that I made up- and also, it’s the recipe that that required the most chopping. This is something I can only do on a day I’m not working. When I got home from grocery shopping on Sunday, I put a bunch of boneless-skinless chicken breasts* in a pot and boiled the heck out of them. I used one chicken breast in the salad, I bagged two for dinner on Monday and stuck the rest in the freezer.

Here’s the recipe for the salad:

1 bunch of romaine- chopped into the smallest pieces you can before you give up and toss them all in your bowl

1 poached boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped

2 roma tomatoes- chopped

1 cucumber- peeled and chopped

2 packs of sliced almonds (got them in the “ethnic foods” section of the store…)

handful of dried cherries

Kraft Asian Sesame (I did also try to make a tsatziki sauce which failed miserably)

Mon: Chicken w/ bag o salad– Truly a very “quick and easy” dinner. I took 1 poached chicken breast that I’d stowed away in the refrigerator from the night before, chopped it up and mixed it in with a Dole BBQ Ranch salad kit and- voila! Dinner was served.

Tues: Tilapia and brussel sprouts– this is one of my go-to meals since it takes about as much time and effort as frozen pizza but it’s much better for you.

Recipe for Tilapia: (serves 2)

6 vacuum-packed frozen tilapia fillets

1/4 cup or so of olive oil

1 teaspoon freeze-dried dill

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet in tin foil. Cut the tilapia fillets out of their packages and arrange them on the baking sheet. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and brush the mixture onto the fillets. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the fish is opaque.

Recipe for dressed-up brussel sprouts: (serves 2)

1 bag frozen brussel sprouts

1 tablespoon butter or margerine

Splash of red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

dash of pepper

Instructions: Cook brussel sprouts as directed on the package. Pour remaining ingredients over hot brussel sprouts and mix until butter is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Wed: One-Pot Balsamic Chicken & Veggies– I got this one off of Pinterest from “Cooking Classy” so I knew it was going to be more involved than what I usually do. This recipe required me to transfer the entire dish to another serving dish in order to thicken up the sauce which was highly irritating to me. It took me about a half-hour to prepare- but I skipped the julienne-the-carrots step by buying pre-julienned carrots. That would have added some time for sure. It was a delicious dinner and not difficult, but more involved than I want for a Wednesday night.

Thurs: Chicken Chili- Liz Stanley at http://www.sayyes.com did a series called “Easy Weeknight Meals” and this is one that deserves the title. I pulled the cooked chicken from out of the freezer and threw it in the pot. No need to defrost it first since the sauce from the chili heats everything up all on its own.

Fri: Leftovers- Had enough chili to eat it on Friday too. The baby had some for lunch as well.

Sat: Pork Chops and Stir-fry veggies: I pulled the pork chops out of the freezer on Thursday so they’d be ready to cook on Saturday. I let them sit in a bag of this marinade I got from Six Sisters Stuff for a few hours (that’s something you can do when it’s Saturday, btw). Then I threw them in a casserole dish and stuck them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I heated up a frozen stir fry veggie mix and served it with the pork chops. We used the juices from the pork chop pan to dip the meat and veggies in. It was yummy. Had the rest of our Hangtime Chardonnay we picked up in Morro Bay (another thing you can do because it’s Saturday) and it  complimented the meal perfectly.

*Bonus Chicken Soup: Poaching a bunch of chicken all at once leaves you with a nice pot of chicken stock. This week, I cut up an onion, some celery, some baby carrots, a handful of brown rice and I kept one chicken breast in the broth. I stuck the mixture in a freezer bag and the baby had chicken soup for lunch on Friday and Saturday!

Shopping list for meals above:

Meat:

1.25 chicken tenderloins (for one-pan chicken)

Pork chops

2 packs boneless, skinless chicken

Produce:

Asparagus

Matchstick carrots

Grape tomatoes

Garlic

Dole BBQ Ranch Salad Kit

Romaine

Cucumber

2 Roma tomatoes

Baby carrots

celery

onion

Pantry:

White Beans x3

Sliced almonds

Dried cherries

Refrigerated:

Fat free sour cream

Monterrey jack cheese

Frozen:

Stir fry vegetables

Brussel Sprouts

Tilapia Fillets

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