Hi! I'm Sydney, a stay-at-home mom of three, and I make homemade meals for my Colorado family every week.
Each weekend, I plan all my family's meals for the upcoming week. This includes choosing the recipes I will make — via the internet and cookbooks — plus the actual shopping.
The planning is the hardest part, but there are a few things that really help me:
1) I re-use ingredients over multiple meals. I try to find several recipes that center around some of the same ingredients — so that I can maximize my groceries and not waste anything.
2) I prioritize what's on sale. For example, this week I was able to find a pack of 10 chicken thighs for less than $5 and fresh fruit for $2.50.
3) I ask my kids to help! Kids can be picky eaters, but one thing that's worked well for mine has been getting them involved. I ask them to help pick out recipes when I'm looking, and I find that they are more excited to eat the meals that they picked themselves.
Also, I'm lucky in that all my kids are small. All three are under 7, so I'm able to make our meals really stretch, portion-wise.
After planning my recipes this past Saturday morning, I spent exactly $100.36 for a week's worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I found my recipes on Tasty and plugged all the ingredients into different grocery apps to compare prices.
This past weekend was fairly busy as my 6-year-old had a soccer game and end-of-season party, so I opted for grocery delivery to save time and a trip to the store.
Our groceries arrived on our doorstep moments after we got home from the game. Perfect timing!
Here is this week's full grocery haul — and how the week went:
Saturday was busy with soccer, I wanted to do something really simple for dinner: Easy Ravioli Lasagna.
It's basically impossible to mess up. You fill an oven-safe pan with a layer of ravioli, then sauce, then cheese.
Then repeat those layers again, top with foil, and pop it in the oven. A half-hour later, it's done:
I threw together a bagged Caesar salad and quickly heated up some Texas toast to complete this dinner.
Here was each plate served up and ready to go:
This one was a success!
Since the ravioli was so easy to prepare, I used the extra time to knock out a make-ahead task for the upcoming week: homemade sandwich bread for lunches. I used this recipe to make the dough, and it was pretty simple!
First, let dry yeast sit in water. Then, add flour, salt, and oil — until it forms a dough. Cover the dough tightly, and let it proof (or sit) for an hour. Over that hour, it will double in size.
After that, I took out the dough and pressed it into a square shape. Then I folded it into thirds and popped it in my loaf pan.
In hindsight, I maybe should have taken a little more care when "popping" it into my loaf pan, as I created an oddly shaped loaf. However, the taste was still on point!
I used this bread to make sandwiches throughout the week. I did alter the recipe a tad by only using white flour (instead of whole wheat flour), but it still turned out great.
On Sunday morning, I wanted to continue prepping as much as I could for the week, so I made Sheet Pan Eggs for breakfast.
Sheet pan breakfasts are a favorite because I can save time, prep, and effort by making one bulk meal that I can then slice and eat throughout the week.
I served these with fruit for breakfast, and sliced them for leftovers later in the week.
In my house, it always feels that as soon as one meal is over the kids are ready for a snack. I wanted to be ahead of their hungry bellies, so Sunday's morning snack was Apple Dippers with honey-yogurt dip.
This snack came together in about two minutes flat. This included the time it took to peel and slice the apples — and it didn't take long for the kids to start swarming.
Since the kids were already snacking away with the apple dippers, I decided to sneak in their ham sandwich lunches before their appetites waned. I used the bread I made the night before and added a side of hummus and veggies.
For dinner, I was craving some comfort food. One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom's chicken and rice. This recipe was very reminiscent of that: One-Pan Paprika Chicken & Rice Bake.
This recipe called for basic chicken thighs — and the only prep needed was adding some spices.
The chicken browns quickly on the stovetop, then you set it aside and cook the aromatics, broth, and rice in that same pan.
After a few minutes, I returned the chicken to the pan and covered it so the rice could absorb the remaining liquid.
This recipe turned out so well and was delicious! My family likes to remind me that I cook chicken breasts too often, so using thighs this week was a nice change.
When we dish up our plates, we tend to stick pretty close to the serving sizes the recipe states. The older kids usually share a serving, and I just eyeball a portion for the youngest.
Monday's breakfast was leftover sheet pan eggs repurposed into English muffin sandwiches.
The eggs already had meat and cheese in them so I didn't add anything else onto the sandwiches, but it would be so easy to jazz them up a bit!
Since breakfast was just a quick reheat, I decided to make a batch of granola bars before heading out for school drop-off. (And I know that might sound ambitious, but I chose a recipe that only took 10 minutes to prep!)
After mixing the ingredients and pressing them into a baking sheet, I threw them in the oven while I got the kids dressed and set them to cool as we were leaving for school.
One note, though: I thought it would be a good idea to line the sheet pan with foil to help with cleanup later. However, I wouldn't recommend this because I ended up having to peel foil off the bottom of my bars once they were done. (If you go this route, remember to lightly spray the foil first.)
After the bars cooled, I wrapped up each one to make these easy to store. Since mine were a bit crumbly, I kept them in the freezer and pulled them out as needed.
Monday's lunch was leftovers. For dinner, I wanted to make something with vegetables since the previous night didn't have any. I decided on Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry.
As I was prepping my ingredients, I realized my grocery shopper only bought one chicken breast instead of one pound. Luckily, I had the leftover chicken thighs from Sunday night. I cut off the skin and diced the chicken to make up the difference.
I didn't add my chicken thighs until the very end since it was already cooked and I didn't want it to dry out — but in the end, I had just enough.
To serve, I added a side of fruit for the kids and some rice. Everyone really enjoyed this recipe! The veggies still had a bit of crunch, and it had really great flavor thanks to the garlicky soy sauce.
After leftovers for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday's dinner was similarly about repurposing different things from earlier in the week. I needed to cook the remaining chicken thighs before they spoiled and use up the rest of the broccoli from the night before. I used this slow cooker recipe for a fix-it-and-forget-it meal of chicken and biscuits.
The recipe called for chicken breasts, but I already had thighs from the large pack I had bought. I trimmed off the skin and used the thighs instead — plus the veggies — then put everything into the slow cooker.
The last step was to quickly slice the pre-made biscuits and add them in for the last hour of cooking.
I loved this dinner because it was really hands-off thanks to the slow cooker — and it let me clear out some fridge space by using up the chicken and veggies. Shop The Recipe
Wednesday was the last day of school for my 6-year-old, so breakfast was pick-what-you-want. My kids picked hardboiled eggs and fruit.
Lunch was leftovers. To celebrate the last day of school, I wanted to do something fun for dinner. These Cheeseburger Pretzel Bombs were perfect for that.
Using pre-made dough as the base, I rolled it into balls with cheese.
In order to get the delicious pretzel texture on the outside, the dough balls are first dropped into a baking soda bath.
After the bath, pop them into the oven:
While the pretzels were baking, I wanted to try making a batch of sweet potato chips in my new air fryer using this recipe.
Speaking candidly, I'm still getting used to my air fryer, and I made a couple of mistakes with these. The first was that I cut my potatoes too thin. Second, as my husband will be happy to corroborate, I can be very impatient. I put way too many in my air fryer at once, and this resulted in lots of unevenly cooked chips.
Despite my user error in making the sweet potato chips, we still had smiles, so I'll call it a win.
The pretzel bombs were ready just as the chips cooled off.
All in all, there were ZERO leftovers for this meal. Everybody kept going back for more until every last bite was gone. We will absolutely make these again.
(Also, as mentioned: Last day of school!! 🙌)
For the first official day of summer break, I kept things easy. Breakfast was plain oatmeal with milk and brown sugar.
For lunch I used leftover hardboiled eggs to make egg salad. For dinner, I finished off the tub of yogurt from the Apple Dippers and made this two-ingredient pizza dough.
I wasn't totally sure how it would go, but turns out, when you combine self-rising flour and yogurt, you get shortcut dough! I rolled out a double batch.
One cheese pizza, two kitchen helpers.
The two-ingredient crust actually turned out pretty well — despite a color that wasn't as brown as I would have liked. (But it still tasted great!) Shop The Recipe
To end the week, breakfast was cereal (leftover Rice Krispies from the granola bars) and oatmeal. Lunch was egg salad, fruit, and veggies with hummus.
Dinner was the last of the leftovers, below. I really wanted to make sure we finished eating up most of the food in the fridge before heading into the weekend. Saturday morning, we started the cycle over to begin another week!
I know my kids are small, which helps keep our budget low, but I find that having an organized plan for the week helps with unnecessary purchases or buying things that sound good in the store, but don't always come together to make a set meal.
And I realize this routine won't necessarily work for all families — especially if you're feeding hungry teenagers instead of toddlers, or if you work outside the home and are unable to devote much time to cooking. Still, I hope this is helpful in some way!