Meal rotation/ recipe ideas share
Just wondering if other parents would be willing to share their key, go to recipes for easy weekday meals for dinner? Also looking for suggestions on ideas for breakfast and lunch. We keep eating the same thing for breakfast (bread and eggs) and I am looking for alternatives.
Feb 10, 2023
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Hi! I love this idea and am excited to see what people share. Here are a few recipes that are in heavy rotation over here:
I will add that getting an Instant Pot has been life-changing for making awesome meals in record time. We do a lot of cooking double and freezing half, so that there are always a few great options in the freezer for the busier days.
My favorite quick dinner: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/carrot-orzo-237325 We sometimes add cooked ground lamb or fried tofu, or have as a hearty side dish to a meat dish. To complete the meal, we make steamed broccoli and salad bags regularly because they're both so quick and easy.
Another thing I do is saute sliced sausage with onion and whatever veggies you like (I usually use bell peppers and spinach), add a jar of artichoke tapenade and cooked rice in the proportion you prefer, then add parmesan for a one-dish meal that's kind of a healthier version of spinach/artichoke dip.
For breakfast, my kid likes banana with peanut butter. You can also try overnight oats -tons of recipes on the internet. Also try replacing bread with hash brown patties (available frozen) and have different style eggs on top.
Here is one breakfast idea, if your family likes warm cereal. We used leftover rice, cook it in coconut milk with maple syrup/honey and top it with chopped fresh/thawed frozen fruit. For dinners, one of our go to dinners is tofu kimchi jigae. This comes together super fast -- sautee garlic and onions in a big pot, add anchovy paste and stock powder (or use a combo of stock + water later), add tofu cubes, add kimchi, add miso paste, add gochujang sauce (it's spicy, so add to taste), add stock/water, bring to boil, taste and adjust seasoning, and add greens like spinach at the end. Serve over rice.
Breakfast: frozen waffles, smoothies, yogurt parfaits (just yogurt with chopped fruit and granola), oatmeal where kids can choose their own toppings
For dinners, we try to make freezer friendly meals (e.g. make a big pot of chili and freeze in portions) and cook during the week in a way we can repurpose leftovers the next day
My absolute go-to is this recipe: https://www.skinnytaste.com/crust-less-summer-zucchini-pie/
I usually triple the recipe and put some in the freezer in individually sized portion. It freezes wonderfully, and so it's a hit in our house. You could eat it any time of day.
Breakfast - Avocado toast/avocado bagel. Greek yogurt with berries + honey (sometimes granola). Steel cut oatmeal with peanut butter, chopped dates, walnuts and maple syrup. Banana bread with peanut butter (and yogurt/berries on the side). Those gluten free banana protein pancakes (which are just an overripe banana mashed up with 1 egg). On the weekend, we love making crepes and serving with jam, powdered sugar, lemon, and breakfast sausage or bacon.
Lunch - mostly leftovers from dinner the night before, but occasionally make salads along some kind of theme (e.g. greek, with shredded chicken, feta, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, chickpeas and red onion; or mexican, with shredded chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, black beans, romaine, crushed tortilla chips, etc). SOUP! I love the Food52 recipe for Smokey Minestrone with Tortellini & Pesto. Also have an instant pot recipe for Red Lentil Soup with sumac (you can google all of these).
Dinner - If you have an instant pot, I like the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook (biryani and butter chicken recipes are our go-to's). We also make a good dried bean chili in the IP from a blog called Feasting at Home. Caro Chambers is a food blogger who has great kid friendly quick recipes, I especially like her Healthy-ish Turkey Bolognese. Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta. Sausages and cut up veggies - all roasted on the same baking sheet - is an easy go-to for us. Golden Curry - you buy the instant curry packs in the Asian aisle of the grocery store and it comes together super quickly with whatever meat/veggies you have to throw in there. Tacos - sometimes the only thing I really prep ahead is a protein, e.g. Instant Pot carnitas, and serve with beans, avocado, cheese, salsa, shredded cabbage or radish. Allison Roman's Tomato-Poached Fish with Chile Oil & Herbs. Smitten Kitchen is my favorite food blog and she's got a "weeknight favorites" tag that has some great ideas. The NY Times cooking app is great - and also has a Weekday tag.
Rice bowls - endlessly flexible. Rice into the cooker - takes 1 minute. Protein - leftovers are ok! Chicken, pork, steak if you have it, tofu... we like to fry up ground beef or ground pork and add a simple sauce of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, lime juice... then construct your bowl with the rice, protein, and whatever else you have - baby spinach, sliced cucumbers (squeeze lime juice and splash rice vinegar + salt on top), carrots, broccoli, bamboo shoots, half a hard boiled egg, etc etc. Kimchi brings it all together (kimchi is the one non-negotiable for me). :)
I LOVE NYT Cooking. They have tons of recipes for all meals, from easy to difficult. They even have specific collections for easy weeknight dinners, packed lunches, breakfasts, etc. For lunch, I tend to make a two big dinners and use the left overs for lunch throughout the week. However, I know that I personally have a high tolerance for repeating meals :)
When our child was young and we were 2 on-site working parents 90% of the time, we actually made a one month calendar of a food plan. We basically had 2 weeks of dishes on rotation. We always did burritos 1 night, pasta bolognese 1 night, salmon and salad 1 night, pesto tortellini 1 night, eat out once per week at simple cheap place near my husbands workplace because he scheduled 2 work late night per week. I can’t recall what else was in the mix, but 5 days a week the key was that we’d make it in advance and freeze - massive bolognese, homemade pesto, homemade apple pies, enchiladas, hearty soup, etc. We had no time to cook and get food ready by 6-630 when our kid needed to eat. So it was critical to prep in advance - like we’d have a cooking Sunday once a month, etc.
For dinner I regularly make the dark greens quesadillas from 'Love Real Food'. I also make her avocado toast and topping (delicious seed mixture) for breakfast and snack. I also regularly prepare the pan-seared fish from Alice Waters's 'The Art of Simple Food', and the slow-cooked tomato sauce from Marcella Hazan's classic 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'. We'll also make a simple veggie (can add protein) curry from the Mae Ploy curry paste and coconut milk, available at Yasai or Whole Foods, served with rice. The macaroni and cheese from James Beard is classic, with active time about 15 minutes, baking around 25 minutes - serve with a fresh salad. Each of these is ready in under 30 minutes (though the pasta sauce tastes better when slow-simmered for an hour, but doesn't require active time). The cookbooks I mentioned also have other simple recipes, but I have the above memorized. For breakfast I'll make Bob's Red Mill quick-cooking steel-cut oats, and add dates or dried cherries, nuts, bit of brown sugar, and banana. Another way to mix things up for breakfast is Greek yogurt with granola and a banana. For weekend lunch we'll sometimes prepare Long Life Noodles from the 'Woks of Life' blog, and serve with stir-fried dark greens.
Highly recommend NYT recipes! The roasted glazed salmon is so easy and delicious on a weeknight. Another household favorite is the turkey chili, which yields lots of yummy leftovers.
We also started buying meal kits from Meal Drop and are loving it so far. They do the prep so it takes just a few minutes to cook a restaurant-quality meal instead of ordering DoorDash. All organic too which is important to us.
This Lemon Chicken Orzo soup is my picky 7 year olds "faaaaavorite soup" - also my go-to as a delivery for new parents with some crusty bread.
I like this Extra Veggie Fried Rice as a way to use up veggies. Key for my kids is to cut the veggies extra small and triple the eggs (or use tofu).
I've already gotten some great ideas from other responders, thanks for asking the question!