Busy Family Meal Planning

33 Awesome Recipes From Breakfast To Dinner and Something In Between

Busy family meal planning.  Should I say they are "weeknight easy daily parent meals"?  In other words, make parents life easier.

"Everybody is busy."  I heard this saying all the time from many, many people.  Of course, different people define "busy" differently.  Some manage "busy" better than the others.

33 Awesome Recipes For Busy Family Meal Planning

Throughout my life, I experienced different kinds of "busy".  After my parents separated, I was the only one picked up the financial burden for the family.  So, I worked 7 days a week, at least 10 hours a day.  Since my part-time job was to teach piano lessons at the house of my students, I literally ran from one place to another.  But I didn't feel like I was so out of control.  I was totally fine with waking up at the crack of dawn and getting back home late to eat my late dinner at night.

When I have my own kid, I always feel like there is not enough time for me.  Juggling with a full-time job, I need to drop off and pick up my kid on time.  After getting back home, I need to make sure that he revises his homework within 3 hours before him going to bed.  While he is doing that, I need to make sure I put a healthy dinner on the table.  Even though I am ok to just gobble up the leftover, I want to make sure my little one has a balance diet and great health. 

On top of that, he gets extra-curriculum.  We try to limit to one sport at a time.  Between practices and games, I always feel like running out of gas.  I know many parents out there that their situation is 2 times or multiple times worse than mine.  Some families we know from school have 4-5 children in a family.  There is just too limited time to squeeze in sport activities after school.  We are lucky enough that my husband and I always stay to watch the game and cheer on.  Other parents always drop off one kid and take the other kid(s) to a different game.  When the 2nd drop-off is completed, it is time to go pick up the other kid.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

Whatever I just described, I am pretty sure that you can relate some or all of them.  So, I purposefully picked up some recipes based on these criteria:

  1. Make-ahead meals - you can always warm them up within a short period of time and serve
  2. Almost or little prep needed - Basically, most of them only need you to transfer from container(s)/bag(s) to a cookware.  The cooking process will require very little attention of yours.  You can walk away and work on other tasks, such as monitoring your child(ren) to do homework.
  3. Slow Cooking recipes need long cooking time - I know slow cooker is your "best" friend in the kitchen.  There are some crock pot recipes requiring a short cooking time.  That means you must be there to turn it off to prevent your delicious meal from overcooking.  Well, if you are away from your house for at least 8 hours a day, how could you do that?  Therefore, I only pick those need long cooking time.

The busy family meal planning here is not only for lunch or dinner, but also for breakfast, side dish and snack.  Some may fall into multiple categories.  Like you may want to serve breakfast food during dinner time.  Or, your side dish leftover could be your morning snack.  So, switch them up as you wish.


Overnight Oatmeal On-The-Go

You can make big batches on a weekly basis with several different flavors line up.  All you need is to have enough stakable containers.  This is great for you as parent in case you are running late for your breakfast or lunch.  It is also awesome for kids, especially during morning that you want to get them out of the door asap.

Breakfast Burritos

Love this recipe.  You can make ahead of time and wrap each burrito individually with aluminum foil.  While you are busy at getting around in the morning, pop them into the oven for 250F to warm them up.  Another great on-the-go breakfast.

Denny's Mango Smoothie

This could be a great on-the-go breakfast, snack, side dish or a healthy dessert, especially on a hot summer day.  If you and your family are ok the smoothie made ahead of time and lose the freshly ground-up ice frothy texture, pour the drink into several on-the-go cups and keep them cool in the fridge.  So, you only need to grab and go.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

I love banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread and other kind of bread alike.  You can make a big batch of this pumpkin bread.  Wrap them in aluminum foil and store in the fridge.  It stays good for a long period of time for you.  You just slice it up and enjoy.

Side Dish

These salad recipes are great and sustainable.  Some can toss with the dressing and packed away for 4-5 days.  Cucumber and berries will go rotten within a short period of time once they are cut up.  But with the help of the salad dressing, they stay good for 4-5 days.  Some salad can only have the dressing tossed in when it is ready to serve.  So, you can assemble the salad together and bring along dressing for morning snack at work.

5-Minute Green Salad With Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Great for pairing with any dinner.

Cucumber Ham Salad

The dressing will keep the sald good for 4-5 days.

Cucumber Nectarine Salad

The salad dressing also works its wonder on this one, too.

Frozen Sweet Corn

I used to despite frozen vegetables.  Not anymore....This recipe is always like a life-saver to me.  If the crowd is too big or I need to include vegetables in the meal, but have none, this is my go-to recipe.

Grape Tomatoes Mozzarella Cheese Wild Rice Salad

This rice salad could be a side dish or dinner.  Make the wild rice ahead of time and only add grape tomatoes and mozzarella cheese before serving.

Roasted California Blend Vegetables

This recipe is very similar to the one with Kielbasa.  Definitely, a great side dish.  I always pop this dish and cook it with other food in the oven and let them cook simultaneously.  1 bird, 2 stones.

Seedless Cucumber Strawberry Salad

Like mentioned earlier, the salad dressing will keep 2 major ingredients good for a good period of time when they are all chopped up.

Simply Healthier Lemonade Concentrate

This simple drink could be anything.  Making the concentrate allow you to make a lot of serving with one jug occupied your fridge.

Tasty Cucumber Corn Salad

This is another salad in which the dressing will keep it long for good.  Also, it is also a very popular salad in my family circle.  Once it is on the table, it is gone in no time.  People rave about it for months.  I would say this most probably is your staple or only keep it to yourself if you don't want to share.

(Store-Bought) Snacks

Some side dishes I suggested earlier are great for snack at any time during the day.  But there are times that you are way too busy to worry about that.  Been there, done that.  So, here are some suggestions for you if you need some store-bought items for snack time:

  1. Dried fruit, such as raisins, dried mangoes, dried plums and other similar kinds.  They have long shelf life because there may have plenty of sugar and/or additives. 
  2. Squeezable fruit and/or vegetables - This kind of product gets its popularity around early of 2010s.  There was history of recall caused by processing issues.  But most of the time, it is safe and convenient.
  3. Freeze-dry fruit - This is very, very different from typical dried fruit.  Almost all of them are 100% natural.  The only downfall is that once the package is opened, you must finish the fruit chips asap or they will go soggy on you.  Most of them is very pricey.
  4. Snack-pack Vegetables - They are definitely the healthiest way to go when it comes to snack.  If you need peanut butter or ranch dressing for dipping, they have on-the-go package as well.
  5. Others - Those are the most popular snacks that you can bring along with you.  There are a lot more, for instance, string cheese, olives packed in on-the-go cups, pretzels snack pack, nuts and so forth.  Of course, you can always stop by a convenient store to get some on the way.  But you definitely will pay more and have fewer choices.


20-Minute Spinach Cannellini Bean Meatless Meatball Soup

While the soup is cooking on the stove top, you can have time to slice up some crusty bread and heat up under the broiler for a couple minutes.  Then, rub each bread with a piece of garlic or just serve it with butter.

30-Minute Chunky Vegetable Bean Kielbasa Soup

This can be a make-ahead meal.  When you have more time during the week, cook this soup ahead of time.  Cover it while it is still boiling, it will stay in room temperature for up to 3 days.  You don't need to worry about moving stuff around in your fridge to get extra space for the soup pot.  Learn more about this trick from the recipe.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

You can pair this stew with bread, mashed potatoes, rice and pasta.

California Blend Vegetables Kielbasa

Chop and drop.  It is this recipe about.  I always use a turkey roasting pan to cook a big batch.  It is tasty with tons of fiber.

English Muffin Breakfast Casserole

Making this dish for breakfast could be too much.  But while you are monitoring your kids to complete that day of homework, the oven will take care of your dinner.  How does it sound, huh?

One-Pan Roasted Chorizo Sausage and Shrimp Bake

Talking about dinner that dishes free.  What?  Yep, everybody eats with their hands.  Napkins and paper plates are all you need.  Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil, absolutely dish-free.  Better than take-out, huh?

One-Pan Sichuan Chicken with Broccoli

A traditional Chinese chicken dish turns into a one-pan meal which is super easy.  Pop it into the oven and walk away.  With very little maintenance, dinner for a big family is this simple.

Pepper Pepperoni Pasta Salad

This can be a side dish.  But on a hot summer night, this is a great alternative and filling dinner.

Salsa Breakfast Casserole

If you love spicy, this is another great casserole dish for you.

Shrimp On The Barbie

The original recipe needs skewers for easy serving, especially if you have guests.  But you can skip that part and use grill basket to make this dish on your dining table in no time.

Simply Baked Tilapia Asparagus

Talking about healthy and having main course and side dish on the table at the same time.  This is definitely your go-to recipe.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chuck Roast

This slow cooker recipe is great for taco night.

Slow Cooker Golabki Polish Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup

You may be super busy to squeeze out any time to make a traditional dish like the Polish Golabki.  I am sure you will get the same flavor and satisfaction from this twisted version.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Overcook your food is definitely a turn-off.  But it won't happen to this soup recipe.  In fact, I tried several times to warm it up with the slow cooker the next day.  Man...it tastes even better.  I mean...much better.

Spaghetti Sauce Vegetable Soup

Leftover always gives you headache.  You want to keep the food, but it is boring.  What should you do with it?  This is one of my most searched and most popular recipes.  It is tasty, easy and healthy.  The vegetables you put into the slow cooker stay in shape for a long period of cooking time.  It is great for a super cold winter night.

Tomato Carrot Potato Soup

This is my family everyday soup.  100% natural ingredients.  You would be surprised the flavor you get out of the vegetables by skipping broth. 

Tomato Chuck Roast

Another great crock pot recipe.  Feel free to pair it with bread, mashed potatoes, rice and pasta.

Vegetables Ham Macaroni Bowl

Pre-cooked the pasta during the weekend or whenever you are doing all the cooking for the week.  Then, this dinner is only about assembling everything together.


Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake

Both pudding and whipped topping keep this cake very moist and stay good in the fridge for a week.

No-Towel Pumpkin Roll

Although every time I make this cake roll, it will be gone as soon as it hits the table.  It is another sustainable dessert that you can make a few days before serving.

Pina Colada Popsicles

This dessert is crazily easy.  Mix, pour and freeze are the steps you need to make them happen.

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