Busy Families Will Love This Week | Meal Plan Menu

Our meal plan menu this week is all about easy weeknight dinners for busy families – healthy, flavorful, and quick-cooking meals that ease everyone back into vacation-free routines.

  • By Jackie Sun
  • September 21, 2018

Autumn is literally just around the corner (the first day of fall begins tomorrow!), and we are sadly waving goodbye to summer and its abundance of stone fruits and sunshine. If you’re a parent, school is back in full swing and lunches require lots of planning and packing (even our Chief Kitchen Cheerleader Jess has become a crazy lunchbox lady! ;))

Whether you’ve got kids to take care of or you’ve been working throughout summer, we know there is still that tough transitioning back into the vacation-free, daily grind of things that can make you feel busy, busy, busy. So busy, in fact, that healthy weeknight dinners may not be the first thing on your mind today . . .  or tomorrow . . . or the next day.

That’s why we’ve put together a menu of easy dinner recipes for busy weeknights, so that you and your family can still enjoy fresh, healthy, homemade dinners, but without all the stress of planning and extra time spent cooking. ALL of our meals on our weekly meal planner this week take less than an hour to make, and they are filled with both summer and autumn elements to ease you into cooler weather days while making the most of the last days of summer.

Check out all of our helpful meal planning tips below to make dinnertime a breeze, and scroll down to see what’s on the menu! To enjoy these quick and easy dinner ideas the whole family will love, sign up here:

“I love this [meal plan] service! So far, I haven’t made a meal that my husband and I haven’t enjoyed. The recipes are also easy and I love that they don’t take much time to make.”

– Kristan B.  (Member since May 2018)

All meals come with gluten-free, Paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps.

Meal Planning Smarts


  • You can’t go wrong with buying a big bag of baby spinach! It’s a great way to get in two different meals – one with cooked spinach and one with raw spinach – which we do this week for a pasta dish and a side salad. This efficient way of meal planning allows for less food waste and less time spent at the grocery store picking out different veggies.

Make Ahead:

  • Know you’ll be studying for exams or working overtime this week? Wednesday’s Chicken Florentine can be reheated and will still taste great, so make that earlier when you have an extra pocket of time.
  • Vinaigrettes can be made 5 days in advance – just toss the ingredients in a jar, then shake it up right before you’re about to marinate the salmon!

ideas for leftovers:

  • Pack a comforting grain bowl for lunch by topping leftover rice with leftover roasted carrots and sugar snap peas and salmon. If you have leftover orange vinaigrette, drizzle it on top for even more flavor!
  • The vegetables in Thursday’s hash are great served as leftovers in a kale salad – add a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and croutons for crunch!

On the Menu

MONDAY | Baked Ham & Cheese Slider Melts + Roasted Carrots & Sugar Snap Peas

If everyone in the household is bored of ham and cheese sandwiches already, well, we have a quick and easy recipe that will elevate this basic sandwich to something fun and unique for a weeknight meal! Savory ham and nutty Swiss Cheese are sandwiched between sweet Hawaiian slider rolls, which are then brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with poppy seeds for a delicate crunch. Roasted carrots and sugar snap peas are the perfect blend of summer and autumn, and they add a healthy heartiness to this meal.

Anyone preferring to eat gluten-free can enjoy the delights of this fun dinner but with GF slider rolls / buns instead. Paleo folks will make an easy Ham & Vegetable Frittata to go with their roasted veggies. Vegetarians will still get to experience the savoriness of this sandwich by replacing the ham with sauteed mushrooms.

TUESDAY | Salmon & Rice with Orange Vinaigrette + Cucumber Avocado Spinach Salad

Light and healthy salmon gets a citrus-y note from a homemade orange vinaigrette that doubles as a marinade and dressing. If weather permits, add a smoky flavor to the salmon by cooking it on the grill. Or cook it in the oven, as we also include directions in our meal plan recipe for roasting. Pair it with a spinach salad tossed with crisp cucumbers, buttery avocados, and crunchy pumpkin seeds for a dinner that takes less than an hour from start to finish.

The recipe remains mostly the same for gluten-free and Paleo cooks – just substitute Tamari and coconut aminos according to your dietary needs, and nix the rice if you’re Paleo. As for our vegetarians, they will be swapping the salmon for tofu for a different and delicious way to enjoy this protein. After all, tofu is not for Asian dishes only!

WEDNESDAY | Chicken Florentine with Spaghetti

“Florentine” means deliciousness in the form of a creamy sauce with wilted spinach and earthy mushrooms. Add some garlicky goodness, perfectly seared golden chicken breasts, and al dente spaghetti, and you’ve got a succulent Italian dinner that only takes 35 minutes to prep and cook! Make sure you have your favorite white wine on hand to go with this delectable meal.

Gluten-free and Paleo cooks substitute spaghetti for GF spaghetti and zucchini noodles – although gluten-free folks can opt for zoodles as well! Our vegetarian members will be enjoying a twist on this classic by using hearty white beans and sweet chard as the sauce base instead of mushrooms, spinach, and chicken, for a meal that is just as delicious and comforting.

THURSDAY | Fried Eggs with Asian-Style Hash over Rice

This quick Asian-style hash is composed of crispy bacon, sliced Brussels sprouts, and fresh shiitake mushrooms. Everything gets stir-fried with a garlicky, savory brown sauce that ties it altogether. Serve with a side of steamed rice and a fried egg on top, which adds a tasty richness to this dish.

The only switch gluten-free members need to make is Tamari for soy sauce, while Paleo members use coconut aminos and cut out the rice as well. Vegetarians omit the bacon, but this flavorful dinner is plenty satisfying and filling without it!

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 9/24/18 via Cook Smarts

We do more than create meal plans. We create memories around the dinner table.

Subscribe to our weekly meal plan service to get the grocery list, dinner steps, and more cooking tips for these 4 simple dinners.

Plans start at just $6 / month. Cancel anytime.

subscribe today

or learn more


Try our award winning meal plan service for free


Our Podcast: Strategies to become a smarter cook

Share the love!

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How can we help you in the kitchen?

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.

Skip to content