What are your “go-to meals” for hectic weeks?

On weeks like this one after we’ve been traveling or the weekend is too busy to run our usual errands, the last thing we want to do is plan meals and grocery shop on Sunday night or Monday morning. Unfortunately, these are the weeks when planning is most important. The refrigerator and pantry are shockingly empty and we’re too tired at night to be creative with dinner.

The mix of exhaustion, laziness, and disorganization is dangerous for your budget and your health. It’s nights like these when I’m most likely to say, “Forget cooking, let’s order a pizza.” But after a week of overspending and overeating on vacation, fast food is the last thing we need.

For weeks like this, I have a list of meals that are quick, relatively healthy, and simple to prepare. We usually try to be creative and come up with at least one new recipe a week. Not this week. We pulled our menu plan directly from our go-to meal list.

Here are some of the meals I add to my menu when I’m crunched for time:

  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Tacos
  • Bean and cheese burritos
  • Pasta with marinara sauce
  • Homemade pizza
  • Canned soup and sandwiches
  • Grilled cheese
  • BLT sandwiches or salad
  • Breakfast for dinner

These may not be the healthiest options in our recipe book, but they’re healthier than fast food and simple enough that we can cook them up with no hassle.

Kacie at Sense to Save has written about experimenting with batch cooking to make hectic weeks even easier on her. Foods like casseroles or soups can be frozen and heated up later.

How do you get through your craziest weeks without ordering in?

7 thoughts on “What are your “go-to meals” for hectic weeks?

  1. The Non-Student

    Your list is pretty similar to my own! I also like:
    – Chili (crock pot)
    -Tomato and Lentil soup (crock pot)
    – Omelettes
    – Stromboli

    Another thing I do is stock up on some Trader Joe’s frozen meals, which aren’t too expensive and are delicious. Tonight I have to work late, so my partner and I are making their pot stickers, supplementing them with a stir-fry of peppers and onions and some rice on the side.
    .-= The Non-Student´s last blog ..When "Ice Cream" means "Stop" =-.

  2. Money Funk

    You’re right. Hectic meals aren’t always the healthiest, but I usually throw in a salad or fruit with dinner.

    I do:
    -Breakfast for dinner (LOVE, LOVE)
    -Hot dogs or Hamburgers
    -Something in the Crockpot like pulled pork sandwiches
    – some type of hot sandwich

    Mmm… all sounds so enticing right now. must be hungry. lol
    .-= Money Funk´s last blog ..Earn More Challenge September? =-.

  3. Tammy S

    I always try to keep pasta and jarred tomato sauce on hand.
    Also eggs and frozen breakfast items.
    My crockpot is often my savior for dinners as well.
    And there’s always PB & J sammiches!

  4. Thals

    Curry! It’s probably the easiest, cheapest, healthiest thing we make. A selection of vegetables, beans and chicken (if we can afford it), some coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and curry powder. It usually lasts around a week, so all we have to do at night is make some rice. It doesn’t provide much variety, but it is delicious.

  5. carolyn

    I do a lot of freezer cooking to help in pinches like this. I often have:

    meatloaf (cooked, frozen in slices)
    chicken legs (fully cooked)
    manicotti/stuffed shells
    pasta (cooked, flash frozen spread out on a cookie sheet, then in baggies. Defrosts and reheats quickly, and can just pull out as much as you want/need)

    as for quick cooking from scratch meals:
    crockpot macaroni and cheese is a staple – 2 minutes to pull together, 1 1/2 in the crock (on high) with zero attention paid
    wraps (cold meat like leftover chicken, lettuce, cheese)
    pb & J (which my kids consider a treat, given they aren’t allowed to have it at school)

  6. oilandgarlic

    I’m trying to come up with 31 simple dishes on my blog (much more challenging than I thought it would be!) and I’m up to #3.

    Some of my go-to meals are:
    – vegetable and tofu stir-fry (lots of variety since you can mix it up in the vegetable choices)
    – pasta with anything but marinara sauce (such as pasta with tuna, pasta with pepperoncino and parmigiano)
    – cannellini bean salad (canned beans with chopped tomatoes, red onion, olive oil as dressing)
    – italian rice salad (all you have to do is cook the rice and then do lots of chopping)

    I learned most of these from my Italian husband (born and raised) so I’m not sure how familiar these recipes are to people. I’m highlighting a few on my blog but it’s a work in progress.
    .-= oilandgarlic´s last blog ..Simple Recipe #3: Vegetable Stir Fry =-.

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