Okay guys – lots happening in the world!

But you still need to eat, right? And those little people that live outside your bathroom door when you’re trying to get a minute of solitude (and who, based solely on number of times they repeat your name and quantity of requests made in under a minute, seem to be easily four times as many as they really are)? They still need to eat, too.

By the way, one of the meals for this week is a soup that I posted as part of my lunch series last Fall, but as you will see, it actually began as a wonderful, hearty dinner for us. It’s incredibly versatile, only tastes better with reheating, and takes some veggie chopping but otherwise very little hands-on time (even less time if you freeze or refrigerate ahead and just thaw for dinner). Perfect for a weeknight!

*This soup is perfection as is, but absolutely withstands omissions and substitutions. Whether it’s a vegan thing, a dairy- or gluten-allergy thing, or a “kid hates anything remotely green” thing, I promise you this soup will see your modifications and raise you an OMF’nG.

So here’s my contribution to your week. Fast, easy, tasty (the dishes, not me), totally plannable, and totally doable on a busy weeknight.

Also, a couple new Hall of Glory additions! As always, remember to forward me any pictures of your successes (or less-than-successes!), and let me know if there’s any easy/affordable/nutritious meal that your family loves to do on busy days.

If you haven’t already, you might want to check out our Week One breakdown and recipes. 

Without further ado, here is Week Two!

Because You Still Need to Eat

How to Organize

As opposed to my Freezy-Does-It lunch section, I don’t include master shopping lists for these plans. That’s because planning dinner is a lot more delicate and user-dependent than planning make-ahead lunches. All of these recipes, as always, are totally customizable – switch out quinoa for rice, almond milk for milk, gluten-free pasta or zoodles for whole-wheat noodles. Or switch out one of your own recipes for another you don’t like as much, or add an extra because you’re not on call this week.

Regardless, pick a day (at work, post-call, whatever – I usually pick Saturday or Sunday) to be your planning day. Print out every recipe you’re going to cook that week, and take five minutes (truly, not more than five minutes!) to consolidate your grocery list. Even if you have to go back later for ingredients for other meals, you know the most stressful meal of the day is covered (and if you’ve read Freezy-Does-It, lunch for your entire family may be covered already, too, leaving just breakfast to worry about!). It’s that easy, I promise.


A word on ingredient prep and prep times:

You know me! While the hubby (Godblesshim) doesn’t mind grating and slicing and chopping by hand too much, I feel like someone’s making me kick puppies when I have to take the little time I have with my family to do something the long way, when I could be doing it more efficiently. I have some workhorses in the kitchen that I use multiple times a week, which cut down on my hands-on prep time significantly (on a DAILY basis – meaning that in one week alone, they can save me hours).

Large Tupperware Bowl – we have two, and use them all the time. Trust me – you need a BIG BOWL.

Jelly Roll Pans – see point above.

Cuisinart Food Processor – if you’ve ever read my lunch posts, you’ll notice I use this for absolutely EVERYTHING, and bring it with me as a security blanket when I’m feeling lonely. I’ve got a big one, because it’s such a staple and I use all the volume, but there are also smaller scales. You can slice and grate and pulverize by hand, for sure, but you need to account for the extra time.

Instant Pot – I drank the Kool-Aid a year or two ago, and absolutely love my IP. I don’t use it every single week, but I come close. I have two instant pot inserts, so I can put ingredients in one and start cooking, while I fill the other one with rice and water, or a veggie, or a dessert, and then throw it in the second that my first dish is ready (avoiding the need to wash the first insert before I can assemble my second dish). Not all recipes are dramatically faster to cook than their stove-top counterparts because of the time required to pressurize (though meat-based recipes are really really REALLY much faster!), but the hands-on and prep time that I save by using the Instant Pot IS impressive, even if the total time is similar. For example, the IP does not require pre-soaking of legumes (a step which can foil even the most budget-savvy planner if they forget to prep their dried beans the night before). There is no mixing and no monitoring involved, so the cook time really is “walk-away-from-the-kitchen” free time.

Cuisinart Smart Stick – I owned mine for ten years, and it finally died after a rigorous encounter with a particularly thick Thanksgiving dish. We parted ways, neither with any regrets … and I turned right around and got a newer model, which I routinely use.

Vitamix Blender – Though you can use a Food Processor for some of its purposes, and a regular blender for others, its versatility and power make the Vitamix a frequent tool for preparing dinner.