Meal Planning – January Cook at Home Challenge


We decided for the month of January that we are going to cook dinner at home every night. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but we just want to challenge ourselves to get back into the kitchen, and to cook simple, delicious, and nourishing dinners for our little family because they are worth it! We’re not usually great at meal planning, but we’re going into this month with a plan!

I’m not talking about breakfast or lunch. Just focusing on dinner. We have to start somewhere, right? Instead of going into the month with that goal and no plan, I was inspired by both The Food Nanny and The Lazy Genius to create “categories” or “theme nights”. I think the idea for meal planning is genius and really helps to break down ideas and make finding recipes easier! I always have so many recipes I want to try, but then get overwhelmed with options that I feel like I just go back to our typical meals. Which is totally fine, but I want to try some new things too!

I plan to keep a running list of meals on my phone or computer so when I come across any other recipes I want to try, I can add them to the list to make it easier when we do future menu planning. I included recipes we love that are on the blog, recipes that will come to the blog, and recipes from others that I want to try!

Image of a bowl with bow tie farfalle pasta with broccoli, peppers, and other vegetables

Menu Planning by Category

You can plan your menu out by the week, every 2 weeks, or month like I did. It literally feels like a weight is off my shoulders, because dinners are all picked for January. We RARELY plan ahead, but I really wanted to try something different rather than trying to figure out dinner every day. Obviously we still have to execute actually making the dinner, but I’m trying to make it as easy as possible so there’s less decision making involved.

So to do it, I picked 7 of our go-to categories (Soup, Mexican, Grill, etc). Under each category are 4 recipes or ideas that we love or want to try. Each week we’ll pick 1 recipe from each category which will give us 7 meals to cover the week. From there, I’ll get groceries for those 7 meals and then anything we need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks! We will most likely just pick from those 7 options when the time comes rather than picking a night for each meal. You can do that too! Either way works. The goal will also be to make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day or be able to freeze some for the next month.

Image of a person holding a plate of turkey cups. Turkey, cheese, and vegetables in a leaf of lettuce.

Below I’m sharing our January menu planning list! I’ll make sure to share what we end up picking each week on Instagram! They don’t all have to be homemade either, you can totally pick mac & cheese or frozen pizza or whatever you want! Make a frozen meal category if that’s what you want to do. We’ve done a lot of frozen convenience food in the past few months and there is nothing wrong with that. I’m just getting to a point where I really want to cook more again, and it’s getting easier to do that with the boys being a little older.

January 2021 Meal Planning

If you want to join, you can use my ideas below or you can make your own categories and pick your own meals depending on what works for you! Start small. It’s just all about cooking at home, getting in the kitchen, and taking care of yourself, your family, or whoever you eat with! If you’re going to join, you can tag me in your meals, ideas, on Instagram or in your stories! Use the hashtag #RRCookAtHome so I make sure to see it!

Image of a plate of food with a side salad.

*For those with kids- I plan on trying to serve them what we have most of the nights. If the side is a salad then I will either make them frozen peas and carrots or serve some veggie from the salad like tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. I also plan to have backup for nights that they may not like. So I have frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese ingredients, and mac & cheese!*


  1. Grass-Fed Beef Chili with Chips, Cheese, Cilantro
  2. The Food Nanny Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese
  3. Thomas’ Italian Wedding Soup with Bread
  4. Anti-Inflammatory Chicken Ginger Soup with Bread


  1. Thomas’ Chicken Parmesan with Vegetable & Bread
  2. Greek Meatball Bowls– Substitute Ground Lamb
  3. Chicken Shawarma Bowls (What’s Gaby Cooking)
  4. Cauliflower Gnocchi, Chicken Sausage, Pesto, Broccoli or Spinach


  1. The Food Nanny Buttermilk Waffles
  2. Pinch of Yum Coconut Curry Salmon over Jasmine Rice with Vegetable
  3. Indian Palak Paneer with Basmati Rice & Naan
  4. Grilled Salmon, Crispy Potatoes, & Roasted/ Steamed Vegetable


  1. Fish Tacos (The Food Nanny) with Side Salad
  2. One Pan Shrimp Fajitas– Substitute Steak
  3. Beef Taco Salad Bowls with Chips
  4. Thomas’ Beef Enchiladas with Side Salad


  1. Detroit Style Pepperoni Pizza (A Cozy Kitchen) with Salad
  2. Loaded Veggie Detroit Style Pizza (What’s Gaby Cooking)
  3. BBQ Chicken Flatbread with Salad or Veggies
  4. Margarita Pizza & Pesto Pizza with Salad


  1. Grilled Steak, Crispy Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables
  2. Grilled Chicken, Quinoa, Broccoli, Carrots, and Feta
  3. Hot Dogs on Buns with Side Salad or Roasted Veggies
  4. Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions over Brown Rice


  1. Chicken & Veggie Curry over Jasmine Rice
  2. Beef & Veggie Stir Fry with Basmati Rice or over Noodles
  3. Asian Turkey Lettuce Cups over Brown Rice- Substitute Ground Pork
  4. Fried Rice with added Riced Cauliflower, Broccoli, & Shrimp or Trader Joe’s Mandarin Chicken

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