Make mealtime easier on the head chef of your family by keeping a list of go-to meals your family loves, no matter how often or when you serve them.
While it might seem like I’m always cooking and trying new recipes, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Honestly, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves about blogging and sharing online. You might think I’ve got it all together- sous chef and all! Well sister [or brother], let me let you in on a little secret: I do not. I’m writing this post freshly showered, it’s 8:23pm, and I have no idea if the kids are in bed. Because they are staying the night at Nana and Grandpa’s house!
Seriously. I get most of my blogging done when the bash bro’s are out of sight [or napping], and the same goes for meal planning and cooking. While I dream of channeling my inner Ina Garten someday, the reality is that’s not life with kids. So I rely on my kitchen instincts, favorite flavors, and a few basic recipes to get me through the week! The trick is having a base of recipes to choose from… like my trusty 10! Here are 10 go-to meals or ideas that I refer to before making my weekly meal plan, complete with a few different serving variations! If anything, I hope this provides you with some inspiration, OR with the peace of mind that I’m not always cooking and my kids aren’t always eating quinoa and vegetables.
Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
- I sometimes make this with or without a sauce, such as tomato sauce or a little olive oil with grated Parmesan cheese.
- The boys love ravioli and tortellini and pick out the peppers— but I’m not giving up hope!
- I’ll also use the base of peppers, onions, and sausage and put it in a hot dog bun vs. pasta if we have those on hand.
- My favorite way to make taco meat right now is to cook chicken in the slow cooker with salsa + taco seasoning, and shred the meat once it’s cooked.
- You can swap Ground Beef, beans, or fish instead of the slow cooker shredded chicken. But you might want to cook it on the stovetop with the salsa and seasoning vs. the slow cooker.
- Taco toppings we love include shredded cheese, cabbage and peppers [sautéed], and sour cream— and hot sauce!
- We also love baking tacos in the oven like this simple recipe below!
Ground Beef Sandwiches
- Here’s the trick: When the Ground Beef is almost finished cooking, I add sliced mushrooms, onions, and garlic, then BBQ sauce to the skillet. Ted recently told me this was his favorite meal… which was almost a blow to my culinary self-esteem considering I used bottled sauce…
- Sometimes instead of the BBQ sauce, I’ll add Italian seasoning + jarred peppers!
Grilled Chicken Breasts or Steaks
- My spring and summer jam! Marinated in bottled Italian dressing and served with a side of roasted or sautéed vegetables, dinner doesn’t get easier! Or tastier.
- If you grill an extra batch or two of meat, you can use it as a topping for salads the next night or later in the week. Ted will sometimes take the meat as leftovers for lunch too. Get my recipe for perfectly grilled chicken breasts here.
- The easiest way to use leftover veggies and my typical Thursday night meal to clean out the fridge before a weekend grocery store trip!
- I’ll usually use this spicy peanut sauce or simply a few tablespoons of soy sauce to make the stir-fry saucy.
- Bring out that slow cooker and use the same filling for chicken tacos for the quesadillas. You can also swap out the salsa for BBQ sauce and make these Hawaiian BBQ quesadillas.
- OR, the boys’ favorite quesadilla is a pizza-dilla! Pizza in a quesadilla. Duh!
- We do burgers on the grill too… but I like doing skillet burgers so I don’t have to leave the boys inside while I’m outside grilling! This skillet chicken burger is my fav!
Chicken Noodle Soup
- I have a few variations I’m love with but the classic— with crusty cheese bread, of course! And a few cloves of roasted garlic.
- Do you see a theme I have going here with shredded chicken? So typically if I make a batch of shredded chicken with salsa or BBQ sauce, I’ll use that chicken for tacos/quesadillas, and then I’ll use it in a salad another night. Voila!
- I also do not discriminate against beef salads… in fact, I’m more prone to use extra Ground Beef in a salad [mainly because Ted takes the chicken and uses it for sandwiches].
Soup and Sandwich
- I know I sound like a broken record with our shredded chicken… but if we are in a crunch for dinner, there’s nothing easier than a shredded chicken sandwich warmed up on our panini press!
- I’ll also use up the extra soup we had a different night of the week OR a store bought tomato or butternut squash soup [Ted’s favorite].
So there you have it! 10 go-to meals that are constantly on rotation in our house. The variations, mix-ins or fillings all depend on what we have in the fridge or who feels like what that night. But as long as our dinner has some type of carbohydrate and melted cheese, the boys are happy! And Mom is happy that she can just get dinner on the table…. [not always showered I might add]. And if you want specific recipe ideas, you can search for them right here on my recipe index or just use your Google search for popular recipes!