Okay Mama’s and Papa’s, let’s get real. Dinnertime: it’s a grind. Not only do I normally have a fussy 1 year old hanging onto my legs as I’m trying to cook but I’m also refereeing fights between the boys and trying not to burn the rice/veggies/chicken. Not to mention that I have a hard time coming up with new, healthy and yummy meals for this crew every week. We all get bored eating the same thing all the time. Sometimes I’d just like for someone else to do my meal planning. I don’t mind the shopping or the cooking (though I wouldn’t turn down a personal shopper or cook!) but the planning . . .
The following meals are simple. Simple ingredients. Simple steps. Nothing complicated or fancy. You aren’t going to serve these to guests. Big Luke is not picky at all. I think he’s just happy to eat. He’s never said a negative thing about our meals, though sometimes we laugh at how random they are. This makes my job easier because I don’t have a picky husband to please.
We eat early. I try to have dinner on the table by 5:30 and even eating that early, everyone is still starving.
Here are 5 simple meals that will hopefully last you an entire week or longer depending on the size of your crew.
Turkey and Veggie Lasagna with Salad
This was the most labor intensive meal that I made all week. However, I made a double batch and froze one for after the baby is born. One batch was good for two dinners. See the original post here.
Baja Fish Tacos with Marinated Lime Onions, Homemade Pico de Gallo and Lettuce
This is a very simple meal but the marinated onions and homemade pico make it stand out.
- 1lb Whiting
- 1 chopped white onion
- 2 limes
- 4 roma tomatos
- bunch fresh cilantro
- 8-10 tortillas
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- shredded lettuce of your choice
- Lime Onions: I first had lime onions on a 3 month long road trip that Luke and I took after college. Baja, unsurprisingly had THE BEST fish tacos ever. I had wicked Montezuma’s revenge on the way out of there but I wouldn’t have traded a single fish taco. All you do is squeeze about a half a lime over half an onion and let it soak for about an hour.
- Pico De Gallo: Here is the recipe I used for the pico. Even Elle was eating the pico with a spoon. I omitted the jalapenos, didn’t bother seeding the tomatoes, and only used half an onion since I made the lime onions.
- Fish: I used Whiting (I found it in the freezer section at Harris Teeter. The wild caught was $6.00 for 2lbs). Luke says that this fish is very sustainable and it’s inexpensive, making it a good choice for a taco. Luke cooked it with olive oil, salt and pepper in a skillet. Put everything in a tortilla, top with shredded lettuce and voila!
This made about 8 tacos. Next time I would go ahead and cook the entire 2lbs of fish.
Breaded and Baked Chicken Breast with Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce, Broiled Okra and White Rice
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Dijon Mustard
- Yellow Mustard
- Lemon Juice
- Olive Oil
- Chicken: Dip the chicken breasts in a milk and egg mixture and then in breadcrumbs. I like the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. Then baked them for about 45 minutes.
- Honey Mustard: I found this recipe for honey mustard sauce. It’s better if it sits for a couple of hours. It’s yummy and we used it for several meals. My sister-in-law also recommends Ken’s Honey Mustard, which I would have used if I’d had it.
- Okra: Slice the okra lengthwise, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and broil for about 10 minutes on lower over rack. I like to top mine with sriracha sauce too. My kids LOVE okra. The farmers market on the corner of Fort Johnson and Folly Road has amazing prices on fresh vegetables. They are open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- Rice: Make a pot of rice and you’re all set.
We had enough left over for two lunches the next day.
Frozen Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard, Fresh Green Beans and Ditalini.
- Frozen Chicken Nuggets
- Honey Mustard sauce- see above
- Green Beans
- olive oil
- Chicken Nuggets: This is the first time I’ve given my kids frozen nuggets. It won’t be the last. The Perdue brand is 100% vegetarian fed with no animal by-products. It’s still factory chicken but they do work with some smaller farms. Not everyone cares about this but we are always trying to make the best decisions with the most reasonable prices and this brand of chicken is a good compromise for us.
- Honey Mustard Sauce: See above
- Fresh green beans: Pick the ends off and steam to your liking.
- Ditalini- Cook pasta and toss with olive oil and salt or any other sauce. My kids love pesto.
Crock Pot BBQ with Pasta Salad
- 2lbs pork butt or loin
- Favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 box rotini
- 1 large can of black olives
- green olives – as much as you like
- sun dried tomatoes – I like the kind in oil but you can also buy them dried. The amount is really up to you.
- 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
- red wine vinegar
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- cheese – Parmesan or feta preferred
- Crock pot BBQ: This might be the easiest meal ever. Cook the BBQ in the crock pot. That’s it. I had 2 lbs and cooked it for about 7 hours on high. Then I pulled it apart and picked out some of the fat. I tossed it with a little apple cider vinegar, mustard and honey. Then I baked it for about 15 minutes, tossing it every 5 minutes or so. This baking step is not really necessary, I just like it. Top it with your favorite BBQ sauce, which any good Southerner should have in their fridge. Serve it on a bun!
- Pasta Salad: I am a pasta salad addict. It’s my favorite food. Here’s how I like it: Toss cooked and cooled pasta with red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste. I never measure these things, I just add a bunch of everything because it will get soaked up by the pasta and you will end up adding more later. Add in chopped black olives, green olives, sun dried tomatoes, a few chopped onions and anything else. I usually top with salt and pepper and whatever cheese I have on hand. Feta and Parmesan are my favorites. You can put just about anything in this pasta and it will taste good; tomatoes, garbanzo beans, artichokes, go for it.
This is about 2-3 meals for us.
And notice the paper plates! I’ve started using paper plates for a couple of meals per week. I am running the dishwasher 2x’s a day and that’s hard for me to keep up with.
Hope this makes some meals easier for you this week! If you have any simple favorites, share them below or email firstname.lastname@example.org