Hands-Off Cooking for Simple Family Suppers

The key to this menu plan is sticking to largely hands-off recipes and making more than your family will eat at one meal to guarantee leftovers later in the week.

Everything in this slideshow

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Stephanie Rausser

It's 5:45 and you've been chasing the kids around the house since the alarm went off this morning. Now they're hungry and you've got 20 minutes to get a healthy and delicious meal on the table before all hell breaks loose. Some stressed-out moms would turn to packaged freezer items, but you planned ahead! During your little one's short naptime, you managed to get super simple ingredients together and into the oven. Now, with just a few more minutes of active cooking time, you've got a great homemade meal on the table. Success!

So maybe this doesn't exactly sound like your house on a typical weeknight. That's okay, because we're here to help. Follow our easy strategy for handling the daily dinner dilemma!

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Jonny Valiant

Week 1: The Menu

MONDAY: Mediterranean Roast Cod with White Beans
TUESDAY: 10-Minute Chicken with Baby Potatoes
WEDNESDAY: Pasta and White Bean Stew
THURSDAY: Smoky Chicken Tacos with Pear Cheddar Salad
FRIDAY: Parmesan-Sage Meat Loaf and Garlicky Spinach

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Jonny Valiant

Mediterranean Roast Cod with White Beans

Once you've made the white beans (which you'll repurpose Wednesday), the rest of the dish comes together in just 20 minutes. The beans bubble away on the stove for about 90 minutes, with virtually no supervision, and can be prepared up to three days in advance.

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Jonny Valiant

10-Minute Chicken with Baby Potatoes

It would be hard to make a chicken dinner with less active cooking time -- the yogurt-spice marinade comes together in under five minutes! Cooking the two extra chicken breast halves and storing them in the fridge makes quick work of tacos later in the week.

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Jonny Valiant

Pasta and White Bean Stew

Your excess white beans from Monday's dinner serve as the base for this quick but satisfying meatless meal. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the flavorful broth.

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Jonny Valiant

Smoky Chicken Tacos with Pear Cheddar Salad

With the flavorful chicken in your fridge from Tuesday, making these tacos is a snap. The crisp pear, cheddar, and arugula salad is a refreshing and healthy side your family will love.

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Jonny Valiant

Parmesan-Sage Meat Loaf and Garlicky Spinach

When it comes to meat loaf, it's almost as easy to prep two as it is to prep one, and having one waiting in the wings will be a lifesaver on a busy night down the road. Simply double the recipe, freezing one raw loaf and baking the other.

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Blend Images/Veer

Week 2: The Menu

MONDAY: Simply Roasted Chicken
TUESDAY: Moo-Shu Chicken
WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
THURSDAY: Broccoli and Basil Soup
FRIDAY: Meatball Pizzas

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Evan Sung

Simply Roasted Chicken

This chicken is so easy to prep, you'll have it in the oven in 5 minutes. Then you can let it cook completely unattended while you play with the kids. Serve it with a bowl of minute rice and you've got a delicious dinner for the family. After the kids go to bed, pull the rest of the meat off the bones and store it in a zip-top bag in the fridge for dinner later in the week.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Moo-Shu Chicken

Using the leftover roasted chicken from last night's dinner means you can have this crowd-pleaser ready in no time.

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Simple Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce

Using your slow cooker to make a bit pot of mouth-watering marinara sauce will help make spaghetti dinner a simple weeknight staple. Double the recipe and store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for Friday's dinner.

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Peter Ardito

Broccoli and Basil Soup

All you need is a few minutes to set this recipe in motion. Once the veggies are fully tender, the pot can be removed from the heat and forgotten until 5 minutes (more than enough time to puree) before you want to chow down. It's that simple!

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Paula Hible

Meatball Pizzas

Give the delivery guy a night off and make these mini pizzas at home with the leftover marinara sauce in your fridge. Don't feel like making your own dough? Use store-bought crusts or pita rounds.

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Jay Wilde

Your Complete Grocery List

Want to try out the menu plan? Get your complete grocery lists here!

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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