Weekly Meal Plan: 5 Low-Stress Dinners

This meal plan is all about making dinner as easy as possible. Lots of swaps and suggestions to use what you have on hand will make this week’s weeknight dinners a snap to make!

Three Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with sliced avocado and crumbled cheese on top.

Raise your hand if you feel victimized by 2020! I, personally, feel like I need a breather from the entire year and we’re just entering May!

Sure, I’m grateful for the ability to spend more time with my entire family (in our very small space) for an extended period of time (truly, I am. No, really. It’s great.). It’s just, well, I’m kind of over trying to be a decent mom, a doting wife, and a faithful social distancer. I'll keep doing what needs to be done, but I am tired.

This week, I plan to prepare meals that aren’t going to add to my stress levels. I’m relying on easy-to-prepare recipes or those with easy-to-find ingredients so I can avoid arguments in the produce aisle. Another part of my routine is to keep things as normal as possible in spite of the confusion around us.

Yes, it’s tough to behave as if everything’s normal when it isn’t, but Cinco de Mayo is this week. While we won’t go all out like we normally do, I think it’s important to do a little something to keep things light. “Tacos with a twist” sounds about as festive as we can get these days, and you know what? I’m actually excited to serve them.

One of my best cooking tips for maintaining meal planning sanity is to prepare side dishes you can stretch over multiple days. When you toss together a huge garden salad early in the week, you’ll shave time off of your meal prep on latter days. The same goes for preparing a double batch of versatile sides like rice or buttered noodles. A few of this week’s recipes will accommodate a side dish from earlier in the week.

  • Chicken Piccata

    Chicken Piccata
    Elise Bauer

    You can serve this with more than pasta! Try it with rice, mashed potatoes, or with a simple side salad. Being out of chicken doesn’t mean you can’t make piccata! In spite of its name, you can make this recipe with turkey, pork cutlets, or skinless salmon filets.

  • Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

    a row of Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos topped with avocado, cotija cheese, and salsa verde
    Elizabeth Stark

    Don’t feel deflated if you can’t find tortillas. Make Homemade Tortillas or skip the tortillas and wrap the meat in lettuce leaves and make lettuce wraps. Swap the shells for tortilla chips to make nachos instead. Have your family set up a taco bar with all the fixin's (well, all those you can get your hands on, at least). Cinco de Mayo is more fun when everyone’s helping.

  • Broccoli Beef Stir Fry

    Broccoli Beef in white bowl
    Elise Bauer

    Don’t limit yourself to rice. This recipe tastes great with soba, ramen, or glass noodles. If you do prefer rice as an accompaniment to this take-out classic, make a double batch of it and freeze half for another day. Pro tip: When preparing beef for recipes like this, pop the meat into the freezer for 20 minutes to firm it up. It makes slicing the meat easier.

  • Baked Cod with Ritz Cracker Topping

    Baked Cod with Ritz Cracker Topping
    Elise Bauer

    This recipe uses up a pantry staple: Ritz crackers. If you don’t have any Ritz, try saltines, goldfish, or even whole wheat water crackers. Cod’s not as popular as other fish, so while everyone is fighting for the last piece of salmon, scoop this dark horse up and make your way to the check-out line. Serve it with buttered egg noodles and any broccoli you may have left from last night’s meal.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

    Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole
    Aaron Hutcherson

    Breakfast for dinner should be more of a thing. It’s easy, filling, and economical. Tater tots are always a welcome addition to my meals, no matter how old I am, so this “brinner” is going to be a fun twist to our usual supper. Bonus: leftovers mean breakfast for tomorrow.

  • Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

    Chocolate Covered Pretzels
    Irvin Lin

    These quick-to-assemble sweet treats are especially yummy when stirred into frozen yogurt or your favorite ice cream.