One week in and it feels good to be eating better again. My boys are back at school today so we can get back in a routine. It is weird how we crave the holidays but then we all get a bit antsy towards the end. Planning our meals makes me feel much more able to deal with getting back to the madness of after school running around and work.
Thank you for all the lovely messages sharing what you’ve made from last week’s plan. Here’s my January family meal plan week 2. For those of you living down under, you may find my meal plans from last summer more suitable at this time of year.
This week – fill your freezer with ‘building block’ meals
My family meal plan week 2 plan includes a couple of recipes using meals I have in my freezer. I recommend you making double quantities of them so you can have some easy dinners in the bag for future weeks. You probably won’t make all of these this week, so fill the gaps this week with your favourite go-to recipes and try and make them gradually when you have time.
I try to cook 2-3 things at once a couple of times a month. I get a good podcast on, make one lot of mess and choose recipes that have similar ingredients so that I can chop everything at once and then divide it between the recipes.
By filling your freezer with these building block meals, like the baked beans I shared last week, you’ll find it much easier to cook each night. As the weeks go on I’ll refer back to these building block meals – so by making them this week, future weeks will be even easier. If you’d like more advice on other helpful things to fill your freezer with, read this post.
Click on the links for these recipes for the family meal plan week 2
- Puy lentil ragu
- Thai basil stir fry
- Sweet potato and black bean nachos
- Italian fish stew
- Chicken curry with spiced squished potatoes
Monday – Puy lentil ragu (from the freezer) with brown rice pasta and pesto
Meat-free Monday is a good way to start the week. Even better when you have some of this puy lentil ragu in the freezer. Don’t be put off thinking this is some worthy, tasteless lentil recipe. My boys and meat-loving husband love it and I’ve given it to loads of children when they’ve come after school, they just assume it’s Bolognese and I don’t correct them! It is also handing having it in the freezer for any vegetarian or vegan guests.
I usually make a batch of this ragu at the same time as cooking another dinner. After the initial chopping it is a hands-off recipe that will slowly cook while you do other things.
Adding homemade pesto means I can squish loads of healthy greens and extra herby, cheesy flavour in without anyone noticing. One of my best tricks for feeding small people. Here’s my extra green pesto recipe.
Family meal plan week 2 – get ahead for later in the week – If you’re making pesto for this, why not make double and keep it in the fridge to add to the fish stew later in the week? Or keep it on standby if you don’t fancy cooking later in the week and just stir it through pasta or squish it into baked potatoes for a speedy dinner.
Tuesday – Thai basil stir fry with peppers and noodles – a 15 minute dinner
This Thai basil stir fry is one of my most taught recipes and one I get pictures of from around the world every week. It works for the whole family because you can add the chilli at the table. And the veggies are in big enough pieces for drama-free picking out. We either have this tossed with brown rice from the freezer (another life saver building block recipe) or soba noodles.
I’ve cooked it on stage at various festivals and it always get people really excited. Not just because it is delicious and healthy, but because the trick I have for cooking minced/ground meat is a game-changer. You’ll never cook your mince/ground meat any other way again. Because it is so popular, I’ve made a cookalong video to go with the written recipe. In it you’ll see that meat technique as well as how to chop peppers, onions, peel and mince garlic and – probably most importantly how to season the finished dish.
Grab a coffee or a wine and give yourself 18 minutes to concentrate on the video – it is just like coming to one of my classes and I promise you’ll learn loads that you’ll use in all your cooking. And here’s the written recipe too.
Wednesday – 15 minute sweet potato and black bean nachos with avocado and homemade tortilla chips
Wednesday is swimming night. Words that will make the shoulders of most parents draw up around their ears. Getting two slippery boys undressed, dressed and coming home with a bag of wet washing and two starving children is a sure fire way for me to reach for the wine. This dinner is a great one for nights like this as it is so fast, tastes like its a treat, but is actually packed full of healthy stuff. Here’s the recipe.
I make a big batch of my sweet potato and black bean chilli once a month and freeze it in small, easy to defrost servings. Then I grab tortillas or wraps form the freezer and make them the crunchy base. This is eat with your hands food which suits my semi-feral children perfectly.
Family meal plan week 2 – get ahead for later in the week/month – Make extra chilli and freeze it.
If you have a bit more time and patience, get your little ones to make the tortilla chips and guacamole and layer up the nachos themselves. I made a video of my two doing just that.
Thursday – Italian fish stew, lemon green beans and spinach
This quick one-pan stew is a lovely way to eat fish. We usually have it with hunks of crusty bread but this week we’re having it with stir fried spinach and green beans which I’ll dress with lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Here’s the recipe.
Family meal plan week 2 – get ahead for later in the week/month – You can make the sauce, up to the point where you add the fish, earlier in the week, or even make a double batch and freeze half.
Friday – Out.
Saturday – Tacos with steak, roast butternut squash, avocado and lime-dressed rocket.
Tacos are a great weekend dinner and are a good way of using up any random leftovers in the fridge. I wrote about how to make great tacos and have included loads of recipes in this post.
Steak is an easy taco filling – buy a good grass-fed steak, season it with salt then cook it in a super hot frying pan without moving it. Flip it after 4-minutes then cook until it is to your liking. Let it rest for 5 minutes out of the pan then slice it thinly before stuffing your taco. Slicing it makes it easier for small people to chew and also makes the meat go much further so you’ll save money.
Chances are you’ll find it easier to all eat together at the weekend and this way of eating is basically piling a load of stuff on the table and getting everyone to make their own tacos. If steak isn’t your bag, just use one of the other fillings I write about in this taco night post.
Family meal plan week 2 – get ahead for later in the week/month – Roast extra squash (how to video here) and keep it in the fridge ready to throw into salads, soups and stews in the coming week. Cook extra steak and keep it to add to noodles next week.
Sunday – Chicken curry with spiced squashed roast potatoes, spinach and chickpeas
This easy curry is, surprise surprise, another one that can be doubled up and frozen. The spiced roast potatoes are a dream. Now I love a good takeaway curry as much as anyone but this is so much healthier and less expensive too – even if you use organic ingredients.
I’ll add a can of drained chickpeas (garbanzo) and stir defrosted frozen spinach into the curry just before serving to add some extra goodness. You can leave them out or serve them alongside if they’ll put any fussy eaters off the curry. Here is the recipe.
How I’ll share my meal plans and recipes this year
I hope you’ve found my family meal plan week 2 useful. I’ll share my next meal plan and recipes next week on here so watch out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and be sure to sign up here for my twice-monthly newsletter.
Over the weeks you’ll start to see patterns of how my plans work so that you can start making your own plans with the recipes and meals you love. Some of the recipes will be from my site, others will be going into my book which will be out later this year.