Typically, when we do our meal plan on Saturday (or Sunday morning, right before going grocery shopping), we plan as follows:
- Sunday – some form of fresh fish
- Monday – crock pot #1
- Tuesday – crock pot #2
- Wednesday – one-off
- Thursday – crock pot #1 leftovers
- Friday – crock pot #2 leftovers
- Saturday – meal to be determined that day
It’s not that we can’t make something on Sunday that lasts into the week; we occasionally do that just to relieve some of the tedium that can set in from keeping to a fairly set routine. Still, this is our most common/standard meal plan template. We then fill in with these “one-off” meals (ones that are designed to fill a single night and are not expected to generate leftovers). DH and I had identified a bunch of these before we had kids, since leftovers were never really as big of a deal in our pre-kiddo days, and our list has had to change substantially in the last few years, to accommodate the toddler/preschooler palate.
Our typical go-to one-off meals these days are those that cost very little to prepare, can be made with items that are easy to stockpile/maintain on hand, and that typically take no more than about 30-40 mins to prepare (often with very little “active” cooking time).
The list includes:
- Turkey tacos
- “Brinner” (breakfast for dinner)
- Fish and chips (where fish can be sticks/squares and chips can include fries or tater tots)
- Pasta (dried pasta or ravioli/tortellini)
- Homemade pizza
- Faux Chinese (assortment of frozen Chinese food items, like dumplings, Gen. Tso’s Chicken, and egg rolls)
I’m curious as to any other one-offs that work for others. Feel free to post any in the comments section. We’re always on the lookout for new ideas, especially those that may be kid-friendly.
The other thing I’d be interested in hearing is any tips on how to get a fast one-off that’s short on active time but that doesn’t lean heavily on prepared foods. I suppose that we could manage to get some of the prepared foods out of our diet (or at least reduce the reliance on them) if I made things in advance and either refrigerated or froze them for later reheating. It’s all a matter of planning. And, since our schedule is still fairly dependent upon meal planning, I’m fine with that.
We do lean on lower-sodium, lower-fat options, when available – but all of these meals rely on some measure of convenience/prepared items. Knowing that we may have no more than 30-40 minutes to prepare a meal, it feels so daunting trying to push these prepared items out of the pantry. Somehow, I doubt that we’re the only ones fighting this battle. Or at least I’d like to hope that we’re not alone out there.