The dinner rut. It’s a place many of us often find ourselves. Once we’ve made the three dishes we always make (for us it’s spaghetti, tacos, and pizza), we’re tapped out. No ideas. No motivation. Nothing to make for dinner. Enter meal planning.

Does it take a bit of time? Sure. But….does it save you stress and bring some variety to your life? You bet. (And anything that reduces my stress is a win in my book.) I love knowing what I’m making (and having) for dinner every night. My kids love knowing. (I actually print out the menu and hang it on the fridge!) We all know what’s coming up – and best yet? I’m ready to make it with the ingredients on hand! So dive in to my real-life menu and grab an idea or two for your own family.

Check out the Weekly Menu Archives for even more dinner ideas! (Not sold yet? Check out 10 Reasons I Love Meal Planning!) Ready for some ideas? Let’s go!

Monday: Honey Mustard Chicken, roasted broccoli, “pretzel” breadsticks

This one was so easy, and delicious! I coated my chicken breasts in honey mustard, and then dipped one side in seasoned Panko breadcrumbs. To make the “pretzel” breadsticks, I cut a tube of Pillsbury pizza dough into 12 pieces, and dipped each into a baking soda/water bath prior to baking. To finish, I sprinkled each piece with coarse salt before I popped them in the oven. So good, and a fun twist on a chicken dinner.

Tuesday: Peanut Butter Pancakes

My husband works late on Tuesdays, so the kids and I often enjoy non-traditional meals. (You know, meals that aren’t a meat, a starch, and a veggie.) Pancakes is one of our favorites. I saw a popular pancake house make something similar, and set out to make our own. These were traditional pancakes topped with whipped cream, a peanut butter drizzle (I warmed pb up in the microwave!), and Reese’s Pieces.

This pic I snapped quickly with my phone does not do these pancakes justice. They’re indulgent and delicious!

Wednesday: Turkey Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans

*Tip! Make individual meatloaves! Not only do the mini loaves cook faster, it makes portioning much easier.

*Calorie Tip: Mash your potatoes with chicken stock instead of milk or cream. Just as creamy and adds some nice savory flavor!

Thursday: Date Night

Keeping it real, my husband and I actually went on a real bona-fide date! Dinner, a movie, and a stop at one of my favorite donut shops!

Friday: Carnitas

This was my first time making carnitas, and the recipe I used from was a definite “make again!” Not only did our house smell incredible ALL.DAY.LONG. but the meat was tender and flavorful. 6 thumbs up. I served these with a side of rice.

Saturday: Deli Subs with fruit and chips

We eat sandwiches for lunch at least several days a week, and yet deli subs is always a favorite dinner at my house. (As in, people actually look forward to eating it!) I always have a variety of deli meats and cheeses to pick from, along with condiments and veggies. I turn the broiler on, and allow people the option of broiling it a la Subway. Best yet? It’s quick, easy to make (and clean-up) and perfect for a Saturday dinner.

It’s easy to think, “well, it’s Saturday – I’ll have more time to cook.” And for some of us, that’s probably true. BUT, I am learning that while I have more time on Saturdays, I don’t necessarily want to fill that time with tasks. Having an easy dinner like deli subs means more time for basketball with my kids, reading by the fire, or watching a cheesy Hallmark movie with my husband. 😉

Sunday: Lasagna Soup

This one is a crowd-pleaser and SO easy to make.

lasagna soup

Until next time everyone! Happy meal planning. ~Bekki