Weekly Meal Planning + Recipes 6.21.2015

Meal planning can be painful and time consuming. I plan all of our family meals out a week at a time and shop every Saturday or Sunday. I tend to only go to one store – the closest one – which happens to be Safeway. Before going to the store, I log onto their app and download any applicable coupons and will often plan my meals around what they have on sale. I also check the Ibotta and Checkout 51 apps to get any other cash back deals there for the items I’m buying

Since I don’t have a ton of time to cook on weeknights, I take a lot of short cuts which you’ll see below and are part of my meal planning tips. For example, I can no longer cut onions without massive tearing so I just use frozen diced onions. If you prefer the taste of something fresh, by all means substitute.

Everything cooks in 30 minutes or less unless there is a specific time noted and feeds about 4 people.

Meal planning menu:

  • Tomato noodle casserole (this one is for the weekend because it takes about an hour to cook)
  • Crockpot coconut curry beef
  • Meat pies
  • Paprika Shrimp with Orzo
  • Microwave Green Chile Chicken Risotto
  • Chicken piccata with pasta and green beans
  • Cajun grilled chicken pasta

Shopping List:


  • Lemon
  • Green beans
  • 3 red peppers
  • Baby carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes


  • Angel hair pasta (or use dry to save money)
  • Heavy cream (you can use milk instead)
  • Cheddar cheese (pre-shredded if you want to save a little time)


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • frozen shrimp
  • 2 packages chicken breast strips (or make your own if you have time)
  • 1.5 lbs stew meat (or any other cheap beef that you want to chop up)
  • 1 package skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or tenders


  • Frozen puff pastry shells
  • Frozen chopped onions

Dried Goods:

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • orzo
  • linguine
  • lemon juice
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 package egg noodles
  • 3 cans coconut milk (or 1 box)
  • Green curry paste
  • cajun seasoning
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • capers

Pantry Items (things you’ll need to buy if you don’t have them on hand already):

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Minced garlic (either the jar or the spice)
  • Red cooking wine (I normally just buy the cheapest red I can find)
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram or oregano
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco (or any other hot sauce) – even a packet of taco bell hot sauce would work
  • Cooking spray
  • Fish sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Tube of ginger (I use this instead of fresh ginger because no peeling necessary)
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Rice
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Ketchup (or some ketchup packets)
  • Basil

The recipes:

Tomato Noodle Casserole

serves 6 – 8

Cooking time: 55 mins.


  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 bag frozen chopped onions
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram or oregano
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 pckg uncooked broad egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Spray a large heavy skillet with cooking spray and heat it until it is hot, then add the meat, keeping it at high. and break the meat up into small pieces until browned
  2. Add the frozen onions and garlic. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, paprika, salt, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram or oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco. Stir the meat and seasonings well, cover, and simmer slowly for 5 minutes.
  4. Select a 2 1/2-quart baking dish, preferably a deep one. Spoon 1/2 the sauce into the baking dish, then add the uncooked noodles. Cover noodles with remaining sauce.
  5. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes. Sprinkle it with cheese & bake 5 mins. more. Serve from casserole dish.

COOKING AHEAD  Tomato-noodle casserole can be prepared [through step 4], covered, and refrigerated until needed. Add 5 – 10 mins. additional oven time, depending on how cold dish is.

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beef



  • 3  cans of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons ginger
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup frozen chopped onions
  • Handful or 2 of baby carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1.5 lbs stew meat

Just before serving:

  • 3 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Serve with:

  • rice


  1. In the slow cooker, whisk together the coconut milk, fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and curry paste until everything is combined .
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, onions and carrots.
  3. Toss the beef cubes in the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
  4. Sear beef until lightly golden in a pan for about a minute per side – don’t worry too much about the timing of this as the meat will cook thoroughly in the slow cooker, then transfer to the slow cooker.
  5. Stir everything up in the slow cooker, then cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Before serving – if you can do this an hour before, that’s great, but otherwise about 5-10 minutes works as well:

  1. Add the lime or lemon juice and brown sugar, and bell peppers and stir.
  2. Cook some rice
  3. Serve over rice

Meat Pies

These taste the best with puff pastry, but if you don’t want to spend the money on that or just want to make this super quick, you can substitute a can of biscuits.


  • Frozen puff pastry shells
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup beef broth (or beef bouillon + hot water)
  • 1 tbsp McCormick’s Chicken season
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


1. Preheat the oven to whatever the package of puff pastry says.
2. Split apart the puff pastry shells and season them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake them in the oven according to the package directions.
3. Heat a pan over high heat and add olive oil and then butter. Add the meat and break it up into bits and cook until it’s browned. Then add in the frozen onion and cook for 5 minutes.
4. While this is cooking, mix together the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste or ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and beef broth and whisk it all together.
4. Stir in the flour – use more if you want it to be more of a thicker/gravy like sauce – and cook for 1 minute. Then add in the Worcestershire mixture to the pan. Add in the garlic powder and chicken seasoning and cook until the sauce is thickened – about 5 minutes.
5. Put some of the meat mixture with the puff pastry shells in a bowl and enjoy.
6. Since there are no vegetables in this – serve with a side of baby carrots or extra red pepper strips that you might have left over from the prior night’s meal.

Paprika Shrimp & Orzo

4 tbsp butter
2 tsp paprika
1 lb bag frozen shrimp (get peeled and deveined if available)
3 cups cooked orzo

1. Heat a pot of salted water and cook the orzo.
2. If the shrimp isn’t peeled, then remove the tails and peel the shrimp. If it’s frozen, you can thaw it super quick with some medium warm water and a colander.
3. In a pan, melt the butter and mix in the paprika. Then add in the shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes per side.
4. Add in orzo and serve. (You can also add in chorizo and green olives if you like that sort of thing)
5. Serve with cherry tomatoes

Grilled Chicken Pasta


  • 1 packages cooked chicken strips
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 ounces linguine or fettuccine
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Heat up a pan of salted water and cook the linguine
  2. Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag; toss or shake to coat.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until almost tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat and add cream and seasoning; heat through.
  5. Add pasta and toss; heat through. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese if desired.

Microwave Green Chile Chicken Risotto (from Cooking Light’s Superfast Food Cookbook but modified by me)


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 pckg cooked chicken strips
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine butter, onion, rice, broth, and 3/4 cup water in a 2-quart microwave-safe dish. Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap, and vent. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes, rotating dish a half-turn after 7 1/2 minutes. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup water; cover and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes.

Stir green chiles and chicken into rice; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in cheese, 2 tablespoons water, and salt.

Chicken piccata with garlic-basil pasta and green beans


Garlic-basil pasta

  • Refrigerated angel hair pasta
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp basil

Chicken piccata

  • 1 package skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or tenders
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Green beans

  • Green beans
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Heat a pan of salted water to boiling.
  3. Spread out green beans on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes
  4. Put chicken between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap and pound it to 1/4 inch thickness (or just use chicken breast tenders and don’t worry too much about this) and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side,
  6. Make the pasta according to the package directions but keep 1 tbsp of the pasta water when you strain it.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan and stick it on a plate with a lid over it to keep it warm. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan and scrape up any yummy browned bits. Cook for 30 seconds on high heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and stir in the capers and pour the sauce over the chicken.
  8. Combine pasta water, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and basil and toss with the pasta.

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