This may sound surprising coming from a dietitian, but I rarely plan a weekly menu. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support nurturing a cook-at-home habit and enjoy cooking dinner for my family. By preparing homemade meals, you not only save money, but also have control over the ingredients in the meals you eat and the portions you are served. Instead of planning every weeknight meal, it works well for my family to grocery shop for three dinners and make them when we have the time. We also keep other key ingredients stocked, which allow us to quickly put together a balanced meal on busy nights. Here is an example from Cooking Light:
- 2-3 protein sources
- 2-3 types of fruit
- 1 bag leafy greens
- 2-3 pre-cut veggies
- Quick-cook whole grain
- 1 cheese
I also put together a more detailed shopping list with less than 20 ingredients for three easy and delicious weeknight dinners: Slow Cooker Lentil Chili, Spaghetti with Turkey Meat Sauce and Black Bean Pizza. These Guiding Stars earning meals use versatile ingredients that can easily be adjusted and tailored to your family’s tastes. Family meal time helps families connect and model healthful eating habits for their children, but these meals don’t need to be complex. I hope this shopping list and recipes help your family to fall back into your eating routine and enjoy family meals without feeling overwhelmed.
- Cubed butternut squash, 20 oz.
- Yellow onion, 2
- Red bell pepper, 1
- Green bell pepper, 1
- Plum tomatoes, 4
- Garlic, 1 head
- Cilantro, 1 bunch
- Scallions, 1 bunch
- Avocado, 3
- Whole wheat pizza dough, 1
- Frozen cut corn, 16 oz.
Meat, Seafood, and Dairy
- Lean ground turkey, 1 lb.
- Shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, 8 oz.
- No salt added crushed tomatoes, 14.5 oz.
- No salt added diced tomatoes, 28 oz.
- Low sodium black beans, 15 oz., 2 cans
- Low sodium kidney beans, 15 oz.
- Dried lentils, 16 oz.
- Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 lb.
Note: A few recipe ingredients like salt, pepper and common herbs and spices are not listed. Here is a helpful Pantry Staples List if you need to stock your kitchen.
Slow Cooker Lentil Chili
Hearty, warm, and satisfying! This vegetable-stuffed soup is easy to set up and full of flavor. I like slow cooking this on the weekend or while I’m at work. Serve with a whole grain bread to sop up the tasty juices.View recipe »
Spaghetti with Turkey Meat Sauce
Scrumptious, fresh-as-you-like meat sauce served over spaghetti is one of the easiest American favorites to master. If you’re feeding a big crowd or working to make the portions of meat in your diet smaller, don’t be afraid to double down on the tomatoes and peppers.View recipe »
Black Bean Pizza
A healthy way to enjoy a homemade pizza with a southwestern kick. Creamy avocado, sweet corn and hearty black beans pair well with the kick of chili powder, cumin and scallions. I like making homemade pizza dough and using the extra veggies we have on hand.View recipe »