4 Easy make ahead meals for working moms

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — Every week I scour Pinterest for easy, healthy meals for my family that I can whip up quickly and easily after work.  I always have the best of intentions but it only takes one traffic backup, a cranky kiddo, or an unexpected phone call to throw a wrench into my dinner plans, often resulting in takeout.   These situations frustrate and inspire me to work harder on the weekends to do more meal prep.  I’m sharing my efforts and my weekly menu with you so you can simplify dinner time for your family.

RELATED LINK: Working mom’s weeknight go-to meals


The weekly menu


*Note: My meal plans for my family are Sunday-Thursday as I don’t really like to cook on Friday nights and often Saturdays we’re busy.

Sunday: Baked panko crusted chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and sweet corn

About the meal: My father-in-law brought me a huge basket of potatoes fresh from his garden so I wanted to incorporate them into this week’s meal plan.  I decided mashed potatoes would pair nicely with some freezer corn that my mom and dad packaged up for me.  There is nothing better than using garden fresh produce! Boneless skinless chicken was also on sale this week so it was an easy, cheap meal.  For the baked chicken tenders I simply cut the chicken breasts into tender-size portions and then dipped them in flour, then beaten egg, then whole wheat panko bread crumbs.  I baked them at 400 degrees for about half hour.

Prep List:

-Pre- your chicken and put into zip lock bags.

-Season flour mix and panko mix and have those ready to roll in Ziplock bags.

-Peel and boil your potatoes so you only need to heat and mash.

A variety of ingredients being prepped for this week’s menu

Monday: Baked ham & cheesy brocoli orzo

Cheesy orzo ready to be refridgerated


About the meal: When I make my list for the week to plan our meals I start by looking through the cupboards to see what needs to be used up.  I found a box of orzo so I decided to make a casserole with brocoli and a creamy velveeta sauce topped with whole wheat panko bread crumbs.  This could be made ahead then popped into a 350 degree oven until bubbly.   I paired it with a small center cut ham roast that simply needed to be warmed up and glazed.

Prep List:

-Cook orzo al dente.

-Steam brocoli al dente and then cool with cold water to stop the cooking process.

-Make cheese sauce by combining 2% Velveeta cheese with milk in a sauce pan until creamy.

-Toss everything together in a casserole pan and refrigerate.

-Top with panko when ready to bake.

Tuesday: Kielbasa & veggie skillet with Waldorf salad

Blanched potatoes and carrots for the skillet dinner


About the meal: To continue to use up the huge bowl of garden potatoes I had on had I decided on a sausage and veggie skillet.  This meal should be easy to whip up when we get home from work.  You’ll just need to chop your sausage and saute with the veggies, evoo and seasoning.  Since my kids love fruit and apples and oranges are plentiful at the store so I’m going to whip up a yummy waldorf salad with apples, oranges, mini marshmallows, grapes and sugar-free whip cream.

Prep List:

-Peel and dice potatoes and par-boil.

-Chop carrots and par-boil.

Wednesday: Chicken soft shell tacos with chips and guacamole

Chicken cooking in the crockpot for taco night.


About the meal: We love tacos!  Chicken tacos are easy if you use the crock pot. My son doesn’t like chicken so I also whip up a healthier version of taco meat by combining ground turkey and ground beef with seasoning ahead of time.  Then on dinner night I simply heat up the meat, make guacamole and prepare the toppings.

Prep List:

-Combine 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot with taco season and 1/2 cup of water and cook on high for 4-6 hours.

-Combine ground turkey and ground beef and cook in a skillet.

Thursday: Taco night take 2- fajita or nachos

Colorful veggies and grilled tortillas pair well for fresh fiesta style dinner

About the meal: This is a great way to use lots of summer fresh veggies and utilize the grill.  Use your leftover taco meat from the night before.  Pre-cut lots of peppers and onions and put them into a giant ziplock bag.  These can be cooked on the grill on a large sheet of tin foil with some cooking spray and seasoning.  Then use your leftovers from the night before to whip up fajitas or even a yummy plate of veggie nachos.

Prep List:

-Cut peppers and onions and place into ziplock bag.

RELATED LINK: Working mom’s weeknight go-to meals

My meal planning tips:

So the best way for me to get this done is to plan our meals, shop for ingredients and then take my Sunday afternoon to prep as many ingredients as possible.  Since I also have a 4 year old and 1 year old I also separate out a few flexible ingredients like steamed brocoli, cooked pasta or veggies so that I can whip up a quick plate of food in an instant if needed.  The more you prep the smoother your weeknight will go!  Good luck and please post pics of your meals and tag me on social media.

My “Dinner Tonight” Pinterest Board