Food: The easiest weekly family meal plan

Without being too groundhog day about it, here we are again in lockdown 3.0 (did we ever come out of it?!) and back to meal planning after the haze of christmas decadence and excess. I don't know about you but I get fed up of thinking what we can all eat all the time so any inspiration is fooooood to my soul.

I used to be led by my cravings that day and pop to the shops for whatever we needed a few times a week but we said buh bye to that when we had kids and now with lockdown even more so. I've got a back catalogue of recipes and meal plans if you want to get the jump on other weeks but I will try to keep this updated. I tend to do a fortnightly meal plan, although I do tweak and swap things as we go on depending on what we fancy if we have what we need in.

As I've said before, we have a lot to consider with out meal plans, We're a family of four with two toddlers, one who has an egg and dairy allergy and the other who is a typical toddler who refuses anything new. I am vegetarian, almost vegan, and my other half loves meat but is increasingly eating veggie with me.

I try to think of meals that can be adapted easily to fit with these requirements, to save a bit of work but inevitably sometimes we have to have a dinner for the kids and something for us, if I know they definitely cannot or will not entertain it.

Monday: good old five bean chilli is a winner in this house. Full of veggie protein, I tend to make it smokey more than spicy, and the grown ups add extra chilli once the kids portion is out. We add cheese to ours but obviously I leave it off for the little one. It can be served with rice, or any other grain, quinoa being a good protein alternative. I always cook a huge batch so we have leftovers for lunch and maybe another dinner later in the week.

Tuesday :- Stir Fry is another good option as its quick, filling and adapatable. I tend to use Quorn fillets and the kids have the same for ease. I use rice noodles for the littlest as he can't have our usual egg noodles and I tend to make a sweet and sour sauce if we're all having stir fry, as they prefer sweet tastes. All children do so there's nothing unusual if yours are the same. I mix tomato ketchup, lime juice, vinegar, a quirt of honey, and pineapple juice to create the sauce and put pinapple chunks, peppers and carrots in it for them, and then pile in any veg we have in the salad draw for us. Sugarsnap peas, mangetout, courgette, broccoli, anything will do.

Wednesday - Pesto pastry is always in my arsenal for a quick and tasty mid week meal as its hearty and extras can be made for lunches. I use Free from pesto, which is amazing for this, but also quick pasta meals for them both. I buy Jusrol ready roll pastry, lay it out chilled, smear on the yummy pesto and place a Quorn fillet (or chicken fillet for the Carnivore) inside and bake it on 180 for around 30 minutes or until golden. I serve with whatever we have; mash potato, wedges, new potatoes or even just vegetables if you're low carbing.

Thursday - One night in the week the kids like to have fish fingers and mushy peas, so I tend to make that the night that we have frozen quiche or leftover chilli from earlier in the week, as it's an easy no cook meal. 

Friday: a moroccan tagine is a regular favourite in our house and can be easily changed up to keep it fresh and interesting. My favourite options are to include dates, apricots and a squeeze of honey, along with chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic and chikkpeas. From there you can add cod, prawns or chicken for meat easters, and use beans or quorn for vegetarians. Served with a small green salad and cous cous, it also freezes well and is good for batch cooking, 

Saturday: takeaway or ready made pizzas from the supermarket, just because if we weren't in lockdown we would normally eat out once a week. I'm also planning that this might be my big cheat day, so all the carbs and treats are onnnn.

Sunday: smoky black bean and sweet potato buddha bowl, which is from the Deliciously Ella cookbook. Sweeten up the potato on a baking tray at 180 for 15 minutes. Then fry off the garlic and onion in a drizzle of oil. Add smoke paprika and lime juice then create the dressing in a blender. Whiz up olive oil. coriander, chilli flakes, maple syrup, lime juice, garlic clove and some plain yoghurt to make a dressing. Stir the ingredients together and place in bowls and enjoy steaming hot goodness. 

Monday: sometimes I fancy a burger but I'm usually disappointed with takeaway ones so instead we make our own. This recipe is a Joe Wicks lean in 15 and is sticky mushroom burgers, which involved making a soy glaze. Recipes are available online so I won't bother repeating it here. Then add the glaze to jumbo mushrooms and fry off in a griddle. Either serve them in bread buns or baby gem lettuce if you're going low carb. My kids will not entertain mushrooms so I have some veggie burgers I keep frozen for them.

Tuesday: a curried dhal is a good option some nights when you fancy a quick style of curry. Made using either split red lentils (which cook fast from dried) or tinned green lentils which are pre soaked to speed things up. Start with the basis of any good curry by frying off onion and garlic, adding spices to taste, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and coriander, all make excellent options. I tend to freestyle a bit but there are some fab recipes online. I also have some mild curry powder to add for the kids, as anything spicy is a no go. Then adding coconut milk cools it down and adding a bit of brown sugar sweetens it up, depending on tastes. The Carnivore and I would add fresh chilli at the end to spice it up. 

Wednesday: Caponata aubergine is a lovely Mediterranean dish including a rich tomato sauce and olives for a hit of saltiness. The recipe is in the Green Roasting tin book so is meant to be done all in one baking tray for ease. Slice in half and score two aurbergines, sprinkling salt to draw out the moisture and put in the oven on 180. After 10 minutes pouring over tomato puree, tinnned chopped tomatoes and adding seasoning such as salt and pepper immediately create a nice tomato sauce. I like to add a splash of balsamic vinegar for richness and capers if you have them will work well. You could always boil up some pasta for those with a bigger appetite to have with it or whip up some courgetti if you're low carb. 

Thursday: fish fingers and something from the freezer for us, like leftovers from one of the previous weeks meals

Friday Ragu courgetti / spaghetti. Making a quick lentil ragu is easy, using the base of onion, garlic, puree and tomatoes for the sauce, then adding a tin of lentils and seasoning to suit your tastes, Spiralise courgette and fry off at the end quickly. Or boil up spaghetti for the little ones and those with bigger appetites.

Saturday: Cauliflower cheese no mac is a dish that feels oozy and decadent but it surprisingly angelic, as its low carb but then there is a lot of cheese, so swings and roundabouts. The key to this dish is making a cheese sauce, by starting a roux with butter, flour and adding a bit of milk until it is smooth and lump  free. Then add whatever cheese you have, but cheddar and blue cheeses work well. Serve with a steak, peppered quorn steak for me and real moo for the carnivore. Obviously this is no good for the littlest one, so the kids would have a pesto pasta or something from the freezer from a previous nights.

Sunday: Gyros, halloumi for us or falafel for the kids. We often make our own flatbreads (very easy and quick, just look a recipe up online) but pre-bought stuff is just as good. I sometimes leave out the bread and have more salad. We fry off the halloumi, put it on top on the flatbread, add spring onions, pomegranate seeds and lots of yummy salad and layer on the cheese. The falafel is often made from a packet for ease, and rolled into balls and baked in the oven. The kids would have theirs deconstructed, so bread on the side, falafels separate, salad in a different compartment, as the idea is they'll find something they enjoy and eat it.  

So there you are, I've shared my meal plan for the next two weeks, I challenge you to link me your meal plan for inspiration below... 

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