A weekly meal plan template and meat-free family meal ideas
By Sarah Russell
Meal planning is the only way I can make it through a long week of work and an endless to-do list, while still somehow making sure we’re eating a variety of well-balanced foods.
Some weeks, everything feels like an impossible task, and when I get to the end of a two-hour meeting on a Thursday afternoon, the last thing I want to think about is what I’m going to cobble together for dinner.
That’s why I love my weekly meal plan, quickly prepared earlier in the week when I managed to find ten minutes to myself. The beauty of meal planning is it gives me one less thing to think about every night. There it is, on the fridge, in black and white: it’s pasta bake.
Today I’m sharing some of my meal planning tips, and a couple of my favourite meat-free family meal recipes.
Here are my top tips:
Keep your diary to hand
When thinking about your meals for the week ahead, you need to know what’s going on. I always keep my diary to hand when writing my plan, so if I know we’re going to be out on Tuesday and have guests on Friday, I’ll build that into my weekly meal plan schedule. This really helps to avoid food waste and limit the number of times you need to pop out to the shop again.
Tie-in with your food shop
Whether you order your groceries online or you do a big shop at the supermarket, make sure you tie-in your shopping list with your meal plan. I tend to order my food just after making the plan. This way, all the meals are fresh in my head and I can check exactly what I need to buy in and what I’ve already got in the fridge.
It’s ok to be flexible
There will always be times when you don’t fancy whatever the chosen meal is that day. That’s ok! You can switch it up and have Wednesday’s meal tonight if you like, it’s not the end of the world.
Sometimes I completely change my mind about a particular meal, and either put the ingredients in the freezer for another day, or just move it to next week’s meal plan instead. No fuss.
Have back-up options
Plans change, people pop round unexpectedly, food goes out of date. It happens. It’s always a good idea to keep some back-up meals or easy ingredients in the freezer or store cupboard that you can turn to when the meal-plan doesn’t actually go to plan.
The point of meal planning is to make your life a little easier and give you one less thing to worry about. Other bonuses include spending less money on your weekly food shop, avoiding excess food waste, and maybe even eating a little healthier.
Whatever you need to do to make it work for you – do that!
In the meantime, here are some of my favourite meat-free family meal recipes.
Vegetarian sausage casserole
This sausage and bean casserole goes down well with kids and adults alike. If you want to hide some extra vegetables in there, you could also grate a couple of carrots and cook them with the onion before adding to the roasting tin.
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin haricot beans, drained
- 1 tin butter beans, drained
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- Handful of chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage.
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 8 vegetarian sausages.
- Grated cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan).
Fry the onion in a splash of oil on a low-medium heat until translucent. Once cooked, transfer to a large roasting tin.
Add the tinned tomatoes, both tins of beans, tomato puree, herbs and spices to the roasting tin, along with the onions. Stir through to combine, then add the vegetarian sausages evenly spaced out.
Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning the sausages a couple of times until the sauce is bubbling and the sausages are cooked.
Serve with mashed potato, steamed green vegetables and some grated cheese and croutons on top.
Herby cheese & cauliflower pasta bake
A dish that combines cauliflower cheese and macaroni & cheese – two of everyone’s favourite meals, right? This is a great one to pop in the oven on a Sunday afternoon after a long dog walk or family day out.
- 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 300g dried pasta (macaroni or penne shape work well)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 500ml milk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 150g cheddar cheese, grated
- Handful of chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage
- Handful of panko breadcrumbs.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan). In a large pan of boiling water, add the cauliflower florets and the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then whisk in the flour until it forms a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk a little at a time, bringing the mixture to a simmer and waiting for it to thicken each time before adding more milk.
When the white sauce has thickened, remove from the heat before adding the mustard, smoked paprika and cheese. Stir to combine.
Drain the cauliflower and pasta, then add the cheese sauce and herbs and gentle combine. Pour everything into a large baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling.
I hope you found these meal planning tips useful, and that they inspire you to get organised and take control of your evenings again.
Content published by Nature’s Journey CBD Wellness is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health-related programme