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Tawnya's Two-Week Meal Plan! Dinner Ideas for Busy Families


Are you a meal planner? We asked on our Facebook page and the votes were split! But Tawyna Achen, wife of ChopLocal founder Jared Achen, plans out dinner ideas and grocery lists each week for her family of 5. (If you missed it, check out the interview with Tawnya on our Facebook page here.)

The Achens have three kids - Brecken is 6, Tenley is just turning 4, and Nixen is 8 months old. And Jared is incredibly busy. In addition to the farm and ChopLocal, Jared also serves on his local school board and on the board for a feed mill nearby.

That means Tawnya is (mostly) in charge of the dinner ideas. Jared likes to grill or smoke meat on the weekends, but let’s be honest. In this household, Mom does most of the childcare and cooking.

Tawnya is the queen of organization, but she likes to keep her cooking pretty simple. Making a weekly meal plan with dinner ideas and accompanying grocery list helps her keep her busy family fed!

We asked Tawnya to share her secrets, and she’s given us two weeks of recipes and ideas, using meats you can find right here at ChopLocal!

(Click on the images to make them bigger!)

Week 1 Dinner Ideas

meal plan

Hamburger Casserole - This is one of Tawnya’s recipes and she said her kids devour it! One of our customers tried it and used crispy fried onions on top since they didn’t have any chow mein noodles.

  1. Brown your hamburger. 
  2. As the meat  is cooking in a separate pot, bring  3 cups of water to boil. Once boiling add in your rice. Cook till done. 
  3. Mix the cooked hamburger, cooked rice, can of mushroom soup, soy sauce all together in a casserole dish. 
  4. Top with the chow mein noodles.
  5. Bake covered for 45 mins at 350*
  6. Let rest and cool for about 5 minutes then serve.

Baked Potato Soup - It is coooold here in Iowa, and this Baked Potato Soup from The Cozy Cook sounds great! It calls for 6 slices of bacon, and Bierman Bacon (flavored bacon) is the perfect way to kick this up a notch! Click here for the recipe.

Chicken Bruschetta - Despite being a turkey farmer’s wife, Tawnya says she cooks with chicken fairly regularly! This recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb calls for grilled chicken and a simple bruschetta topping. Yum!

Grilled Homemade Pizza - You know those “recipes” that aren’t really recipes, but just family favorites? This is one of those! Tawnya and Jared’s middle child turned 4 this week, and she requested homemade pizza as her birthday dinner. Tawnya said she prepares the crust from an easy mix and grills it for a few minutes before adding the sauce, toppings and cheese. Check out these sausages offered by our partners for a perfect pizza topping.

Bacon Cheeseburgers - These hamburger patties are made using mayo! Get the recipe from Hellmann’s, or try pre-made burger patties from one of our ChopLocal partners. And of course, add some bacon on top.

Week 2 Dinner Ideas

Turkey Bacon Ranch Wraps - Another simple recipe! Just bake your bacon and assemble your wrap! (Side note: the turkey from the Achen farm is primarily made into lunch meat, so if you love a good turkey sub or are one of those people who eat a turkey sandwich for lunch every day, there’s a good chance that your turkey came from a farm just like Jared and Tawnya’s!)

Chorizo and Potato Tacos - Taco Tuesday! We have a couple different partners with chorizo sausage, perfect for these tacos! Check out the recipe from Closet Cooking. (You could also use some of the pre-cooked, seasoned beef barbacoa or pork carnitas meat from WG Meatbox.)

Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini - Even if you don’t plan in advance, you probably have everything on hand for this recipe, which is a great comfort food option on a cold winter night! This recipe calls for hamburger, but Italian sausage or ground pork would also be great. Get the recipe from Lilly at Instrupix here.

Smoked Pork Chops - These are a ChopLocal best seller! They are already cooked (smoked) so all you need to do is re-heat them. Tawnya suggests adding a few spices and then grilling to reheat!

BBQ Chicken Wing Salad - This is Tawnya’s recipe, and sounds great for game day! Just bake your chicken wings in barbecue sauce and prepare a simple salad for the side!

  1. Turn the oven to 350*
  2. Dry the wings off and smother in Sweet BBQ Sauce
  3. Place on baking sheet and cook till 165*F
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your salad, shred and wash your lettuce leaves
  5. Combine in shredded cheese and diced tomatoes
  6. Top with the cooked wings and ranch dressing

Let us know if you try any of these recipes! And if you’re a meal planner, feel free to share your plans with us! We’re always looking for new ideas!


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