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How to Plan 5 Midweek Meals in Less Than 10 Minutes

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Struggle to think of midweek meals? Lack inspiration or too busy to plan? Choosing home cooked meals doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it’s easier than you think! Use this ultimate guide to help you pick delicious, midweek family meals without the stress. Plus get my FREE Weekly Meal Planner kit!

Someone filling out a meal planner. A text overlay says "how to plan 5 midweek meals in less than 10 mins"

Ever sit down to write your shopping list and draw a blank? Does your mind empty when trying to think of weeknight dinner ideas? End up eating the same things over and over? I’ve been there more times than I can count.

Well no more. Use my quick and easy meal planning techniques to bring food joy back into your life!

What are midweek meals?

Midweek meals are home cooked meals we make Monday through to Friday. You know, those nights when we’re too busy and don’t have time to think, let alone put good food on the table?!

How do I choose meals for the week?

Choosing meals on the spur of the moment works well for some. But I’ve found a little planning makes it much quicker and easier. And most importantly, less stressful!

Knowing what types of meals cook in the time you have available also helps.

For example, you’re not going to make a Shepherd’s pie from scratch on a busy Tuesday night are you? Nope! That’s more of a weekend dish.

Quick meals like naan bread pizza or prep ahead slow cooker recipes are much better suited.

By being a little more organised, you can spare yourself unnecessary stress. And be sound in the knowledge that your weeknight meals are all sorted.

Fill out the form below to get your FREE meal planning kit. This will help you plan meals easily and stay stress free!

Don’t forget to keep scrolling this post for even more helpful tips though!

Sheets from a midweek meal planner with a pen, a cup of tea and some biscuits

Time management

Recipes with lots of preparation and long cook times are a midweek meals no no.

In my vegetarian mince and onion pie recipe, you need to make the pastry and the filling. Plus allow chilling time. And that’s before you’ve even cooked it! It’s just too much for a weeknight.

Whereas a quick and easy one pot cajun sausage pasta is less work and cooks fast. Much more convenient for midweek family meals.

Knowing how much time you have to make dinner is a huge help.

Only have 60, 45 or even 30 minutes available? Check recipe cooking times beforehand to see what is actually possible. This makes for far less stress.

What can I do for a quick dinner?

For quick meals, try to focus on ingredients you know cook quickly and work from there.

For example, pasta and white rice both cook fast. But potatoes take much longer.

Remember that smaller ingredients cook faster than large ones too. (i.e. diced chicken will cook faster than a whole chicken.)

Someone filling out a midweek meal planner

What ingredients cook quickly?

Here are a few ingredients that work perfectly in midweek meals…

  • Pasta
  • White rice
  • Grains (couscous and quinoa)
  • Noodles
  • Red Lentils
  • Diced meat
  • Sausages
  • Fish
  • Gnocchi
  • Eggs
  • Bread (Pizzas, toasties etc)
  • Soft Vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, cucumber, courgette, sweetcorn, peas, lettuce.)
  • Tinned goods (chickpeas, tuna, lentils, tomatoes, beans etc.)

Ingredients to avoid in midweek meals

Some ingredients take a long time to cook. This isn’t ideal when you need speedy meals! Here are some to avoid when planning midweek meals…

  • Large root vegetables (such as raw potatoes, beetroot and carrots.)
  • Large joints of meat (i.e. leg of lamb, beef joint, whole chicken.)
  • Brown rice
  • Green, brown and yellow lentils
A sheet from the midweek meal planner kit being held

Quick midweek meal cheats

It’s worth noting there are techniques and shortcuts that make long cook ingredients more convenient. Especially for midweek meals.

For example, potatoes take a long time to cook right? Slow cooker jacket potatoes could be the answer! Simply pop them into your slow cooker and go about your day.

And as I said before, chopping long cook ingredients smaller, will speed up the cooking time too. A whole butternut squash will take much longer to cook than a diced one.

Leftovers are also a fantastic way to speed up meal prep. And great for reducing food waste! Got some spare roast chicken from your Sunday dinner? Serve it with some soured cream penne pasta and you’re good to go!

Using precooked/processed ingredients isn’t considered very healthy, but it can take the pressure off on hectic days. Think jarred sauces, frozen veggies and pizza bases.

Don’t feel guilty. Life is busy and sometimes it’s ok to cheat a little!

Midweek meals planning kit with a pen

What can I eat for dinner tonight?

Choosing what to eat for dinner can be tricky. After years of struggling, I’ve found making a list of meals everyone in your house enjoys to be really helpful.

This list will build over time, giving you bags of tasty inspiration at your disposal!

Whenever you make a family favourite or new recipe that everyone loved, add it to your list.

That way, you won’t forget when you write your shopping lists in the future. Making your life easier!

The first things to consider when meal planning midweek meals

There are a few things you should do first when meal planning. They will greatly help to speed things up!

  • Make a quick note of what main ingredients you already have.
  • Got any leftovers? Make a note of them too.
  • Glance at your calendar. Are there nights when you don’t need to cook? Nights when you need super speedy meals? Make a note of the ACTUAL time you have available.

When choosing your meals, remember to allow for oven preheating. And be realistic! Don’t try and make a Michelin Star meal when you only have 30 mins. You’re only going to stress yourself out.

Someone drinking a cup of tea while filling out a midweek meal planner

Reducing your food waste

Planning your meals can also help to reduce food waste. And who doesn’t like doing their bit for the planet?!

For example, did you cook a whole joint of meat for Sunday dinner? Got loads left over? Serve it with some air fryer chips and mushy peas for a speedy home cooked meal. Don’t throw it away!

Meal planning also makes you aware of ingredients you have already. This not only helps to reduce food waste, but helps save you money too. Bonus!

So make sure you check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you plan your midweek family meals.

Bored of eating the same midweek meals?

Shake things up by trying one new recipe a week! Use Kitchen Mason’s recipe index to help. And utilise those drop down menus to fine tune your search. Don’t forget to add it to your Our Family Favourites list if it’s a big hit!

Don’t have your Our Family Favourites inspiration list yet? Fill out the form below and it’ll fly straight to your inbox! Along with a weekly meal planner, helpful tips sheet and how to meal plan guide. All for FREE!

You’ll also receive regular emails filled with dinner ideas and tasty inspiration. Making it super easy for you to fill up that inspiration list.

Still think you’ll be stuck for ideas? Keep scrolling for even more inspiration…

Someone holding sheets from a midweek meal planner kit

Where to find easy midweek meals inspiration

The world is filled to the brim with dinner ideas, you just need to know where to look!

The Kitchen Mason recipe index is a great place to start. It has lots of handy drop down menus to help refine your search too. So you can find tasty recipes whether you’re searching by an ingredient, dish type or occasion.

The midweek meal ideas category page is also packed to the rafters with easy meal ideas. And round up posts offer plenty of recipe inspiration too!

Cook books are a wonderfully traditional way of finding midweek meals. And even if you don’t have any or can’t afford them, I guarantee your local library will have TONS! Borrowing cook books is a great way of keeping meals fresh too. As you won’t end up making the same things again and again with all that inspiration on hand!

Online recipe blogs (like mine!) are a fount of delicious dinner ideas and quick meals. When you find one you like, be sure to bookmark it so you can return whenever you need to.

Someone filling out a midweek meal planner with other sheets of paper scattered around

What do I do next?

Well, this is the easy part! Sign up below to receive your FREE weekly meal planner, Our Family Favourites inspiration list and helpful tips sheet!

Then print them out and think of 5 midweek meals your whole family love to eat. Write them on your Our Family Favourites list.

Finished? Well done! You’ve just made planning 5 midweek meals a lot easier for yourself.

You could even laminate your meal planner to reuse weekly and save on paper! (A wonderful eco friendly suggestion from Lydia, a Kitchen Mason reader.)

But don’t worry! You’re not on your own! By subscribing, you not only get my awesome freebies, you’ll also receive regular emails filled to the brim with recipe inspiration.

You’ll also be notified of any BRAND NEW recipes that land on Kitchen Mason.

Now go forth, keep filling out your Our Family Favourites list, and meal plan like the stress free pro that you are!

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Someone filling out a meal planner. A text overlay says "how to plan 5 midweek meals in less than 10 mins"

More midweek meals recipe inspiration…

About Emma Mason

Emma is a professional blogger. Utilising over 20 years of cooking experience, she’s passionate about making your life easier, one recipe at a time! Drawing on her 12+ year background in recipe research and development, photography, copy writing and marketing, Emma has turned into a successful career. Known as ‘the organisation queen’ among friends, she is passionate about creating easy to follow recipes that anyone can follow and enjoy. She lives in Nottingham (UK) with her husband, daughter and 2 naughty cats. In her spare time she can be found reading a good book, training at the dojo preparing for her black belt grading, or dreaming up the next crazy colour combo for her hair!

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