[This is a collaborative post]
Busy lives mean dinner times can be a struggle, especially when the kids are back at school. Finding inspiration for speedy, easy-on-the-pocket and healthy meals can be challenging. Even the greatest of home cooks can be left scratching their heads sometimes. That’s why I find meal planning is an absolute godsend – if you can take the time to actually do it. Don’t have time to sit down every week and organise your favourite fare? Worry not. I’ve put together this easy guide to help you plan your meals and shopping list, too.
The below meal ideas and recipes (one for every night of the week) makes weekly meal preparation a breeze while helping you whip up dishes that are anything but routine.
What could be more comforting than macaroni cheese? Simple to prepare, you just need the below seven ingredients – chances are, you probably have them in your cupboards and fridge already.
- 225g macaroni pasta
- 55g butter
- 30g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 475ml milk
- 225g grated Cheddar cheese
- Fill a pot with some lightly salted water and bring to the boil. Cook macaroni in the boiling water for roughly eight minutes, mixing intermittently, until cooked through but firm to the bite. Drain.
- In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper for a few minutes until smooth. Gradually pour milk into butter-flour mixture while constantly stirring for about five minutes or until mixture is silky-smooth and bubbling. Add the Cheddar cheese to the milk mixture. Mix for a few minutes until cheese has melted.
- Fold macaroni into cheese sauce until coated.
Tuna, Lime and Coriander Jacket Potatoes
I absolutely love jacket potatoes, don’t you? In fact, jackets are one of Britain’s favourite meals, a comfort food that never fails to make everything OK in the world again. They’re moreish, especially with the right filling which is, in this case, tuna, lime and coriander. This filling will seriously jazz up any jacket.
Don’t have time to prepare and cook your jackets? Opt for McCain jacket potatoes which are lovingly pre-oven baked so you can have a tasty jacket in just five minutes flat.
- 4 medium size potatoes
- 2 x tins of tuna in spring water
- 1 lime
- Handful of fresh coriander, leaves picked, stalks chopped
- 1 red pepper
- Wash the potatoes thoroughly then dry and pierce each one a few times with a sharp knife.
- Microwave Method: Cook one potato for six minutes on full power (800W), turning half way through cooking. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before serving. If cooking more than one potato at a time, you need to up the cooking time appropriately.
- Oven Method: Brush a couple of drops of olive oil into the potato skin, pop the potatoes in a pre-heated oven at 200°C on a baking tray with salt sprinkled around the potato. Bake for 1¼ hours or until tender.
- Once the potato is cooked, open the tins of tuna and combine in a bowl with lime juice and fresh coriander. Spoon the mix on top of the jacket. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Are you and your family serious garlic enthusiasts? Check out this totally garlicky spaghetti recipe – it’s so damn delicious. What’s more, garlic has tons of health benefits from potentially boosting the immune system to reducing blood pressure.
- 6 cloves of garlic, divided
- 60ml extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 190g breadcrumbs
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 450g spaghetti
- 1 tbsp butter
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 50g freshly grated Parmesan
- 10g freshly chopped parsley
- Crush three garlic cloves. Warm three tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Throw in the breadcrumbs and crushed garlic. Season with crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Cook for about three minutes so the breadcrumbs are golden and garlic is fragrant. Transfer the breadcrumbs onto a paper towel-lined plate and wipe out the pan.
- Thinly slice the rest of the cloves of garlic. Pop a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions saving at least 250ml pasta water.
- Meanwhile, put the pan on a medium heat and throw in the rest of the olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, combine the sliced garlic. Cook for around two minutes until fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium-low until pasta is cooked.
- Add pasta to the pan and toss. Mix in lemon juice, lemon zest and parmesan. Thicken sauce by adding the pasta as needed. Stir in parsley and three quarters of the bread crumbs and stir. Garnish with the rest of the breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
Creamy Lemon Salmon
We all know that eating fish is ‘brain food’ and this delicious salmon dish is no exception. This succulent salmon is drizzled generously in an easy-to-make lemon cream sauce (classically known as lemon beurre blanc). My sauce will quickly become your secret weapon for seafood recipes. It’s perfect with salmon, scallops, crab cakes and all sorts of fish.
- 4 salmon fillets
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 60ml double cream
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large pan, warm the oil. Place the salmon skin side-up, and fry for roughly six minutes or until golden. Flip and fry for about five minutes until skin is crispy. Take salmon out of pan and transfer to a plate.
- Turn the heat down to medium and melt butter. Scatter in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then combine the flour and cook for 30 seconds more. Beat in the double cream. Leave to simmer for about four minutes so the mixture thickens a little. Throw in lemon zest and juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper then put the salmon back in the pan, leaving to simmer for roughly a minute.
- Top with crushed red pepper flakes before serving.
Black Bean Burritos
Once you taste these burritos, you’ll want to eat them every single night – they’re that good. Enjoy flour tortillas filled with a moreish mixture of onion, red pepper, jalapeños, cream cheese, coriander and hearty black beans.
- Flour tortillas
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp minced jalapeños
- 85g cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- Cover tortillas in foil and pop in oven heated to 180°C until cooked through (for 15 minutes)
- In a large frying pan, warm oil over medium heat. Throw the onion, red pepper, garlic and jalapeños into the pan, frying for a couple of minutes, stirring intermittently. Empty beans into pan, cook for three minutes while stirring.
- Chop the cream cheese into cubes and pour into pan with salt. Cook for about two minutes, stirring occasionally. Scatter over the coriander.
- Serve the mixture evenly down middle of warmed tortilla and roll tortillas up. Serve right away.
Broccoli and Ginger Beef Stir-Fry
Pan-fried beef steaks and broccoli paired with a homemade ginger sauce that all comes together in 25 minutes. An easy and tasty weekend dish the whole family will enjoy!
I didn’t call this recipe Broccoli and Ginger Beef Stir-Fry for nothing. I adore ginger. When I say adore, I mean I’m a little excessive with the amount of ginger I like to add to my food. So this is one for all the ginger lovers out there.
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 300g beef stock
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 450g frying steak, cut into strips
- 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger root
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 350g chopped fresh broccoli
- Stir the flour, stock, sugar and soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix until sugar and flour are dissolved.
- Using a big wok or frying pan, sauté the steak for a couple of minutes or until golden. Combine the stock mixture, ginger, garlic and broccoli. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat. Simmer for roughly 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Red Thai Chicken Curry
Made with courgette, red pepper, carrot and chicken, this Thai curry is ready in 20 minutes flat. The curry paste and coconut milk make an incredibly mouth-watering sauce.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 450g chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
- 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1 small courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 1 red onion, quartered then sliced
- 400g tin light coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- In a large wok or frying pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Throw in the chicken pieces and fry for roughly three minutes. Stir in the curry paste, courgette, pepper, carrot and onion. Cook and mix for a couple of minutes.
- Beat together the coconut milk and cornflour to liquefy then pour in to the chicken mixture. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down. Simmer for about a minute or until thickened. Right before serving, mix in the coriander.
I hope you enjoy my seven nights of healthy and seriously inexpensive family meals. These yummy recipes have been picked to take into account the nutritional value of the whole family. Enjoy!