Posts Tagged ‘Dinner Ideas’

5 Quick Fix Dinner Ideas with Jessica Fisher

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Jessica Fisher is the force behind both Life As Mom and Good Cheap Eats, where she shares budget-friendly, family-centered recipes and ideas. She has been a friend of mine for many years and I so admire all the work she does to create family meals on a budget! I’m so excited to have her contribute to our Meal Planning M Challenge with some great dinner ideas straight from her new cookbook!

5 Quick Fix Dinner Ideas from Jessica Fisher on MomAdvice.com

What to Do When You Don’t Know What’s for Dinner?

It’s happened to all of us: 5 pm rolls around, tummies start to rumble, and you find yourself staring into the vast cavern of your refrigerator, wondering what’s for dinner. Your impulse might be to say, “There’s nothing to eat. Let’s go out.”

For most of us, this isn’t entirely true. There’s nothing easy to make to eat, but there’s probably actual food in the house. So, what do you do? Do you give in to the impulse and pay for overpriced burgers and fries? Or do you exert yourself, as Jane Austen would say, and cook something up?

I’m going to make the case for the latter and go so far as to say, “Suck it up, Buttercup. You can do this in 30 minutes or less.”

Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated — or longer than your favorite TV show. If Agent Coulson and his team can catch the bad guys and acquire major super powers in 60 minutes, you can make dinner in half that time.

Consider these 5 quick fix dinner ideas that taste great and won’t break the bank:

Beans and rice – A rice cooker can produce perfect rice in 20 minutes. Opening a couple cans of beans, shredding cheese, and mixing up some salsa might take you another ten. Between the two of you, you’ve got the makings for a great supper that’s filling as well as economical. This Chicken-Cilantro mixture will be the piece de resistance.

Lotsa pasta – Pasta is the go-to choice at my house. My kids can smell boiling noodles from a mile away. They’d be satisfied with butter and parmesan, but in just a few minutes, I can whip up a broccoli cream sauce that they gobble down with gusto.

French Bread Pizza from Good Cheap Eats

Piece’a pizza – It might take an hour or two to proof traditional pizza dough, but we can have a great pizza dinner without the wait. Using French bread, pita bread, lavash, or tortillas for the base, I can create custom pies in just a few minutes.

Wrap it up – Keep tortillas on hand for quick sandwiches and burritos. Frozen chicken tenders cook quickly; just pull as many as you need from the bag. Throw on some shredded cheese and vegetables, and drizzle with your favorite sauces. Or go meatless with something like these Green Chile Burritos.

Cobb Salad from Good Cheap Eats

Salad’s on – I’ve got an 11-year old boy who will eat Caesar Salad until the cows come home. If I keep those ingredients on hand, I’ve always got a dinner he loves. Explore the world of salads and find those that really make your heart happy. Cobb? Tostada? Pasta? Cole slaw? Use those as your go-to’s, stocking those ingredients as pantry staples. Add a cooked meat for the carnivores in your midst. You’ll eat fresh in no time at all.

Need more inspiration for a quick fix?

Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher

I spent a year researching how to make dinner quick, easy, and healthy. My findings are stuffed into Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes (or Less!).

My new cookbook provides over 200 recipes that feature real food, real quick. With over 100 time-saving tips, you’ll eat for a day (or a month), as well as learn how to adapt your own kitchen skills to economizing time and money.

Dinner time doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or stressful. You’ve got the skills; you just need to know how to use them to your advantage. You can totally do this!

What’s YOUR favorite quick fix?

 

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

Pin It

Slow Cooker Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Slow Cooker Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

I believe that the slow cooker can be every mother’s best friend. What could be easier than throwing in a few ingredients, plugging it in, and then going about your day, without the worries of needing to figure out what everyone is going to eat for dinner?

A few years ago I discovered the beauty of slow cooking for breakfast and lunches as well as dinners. Setting a slow cooker to cook overnight and waking up to breakfast is a glorious thing on busy weekday mornings and having meat, soup, or a filling that’s been cooked and ready to go into a sandwich or thermos takes the “what’s for lunch?” out of the busy morning equation.

With this in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best slow cooker recipes to boost your menu ideas and to be a resource for our M Challenge focus on meal planning. Plug these recipes into your menu planner and you will be able to take advantage of the cooker’s “set it & forget it” function and help make your meals go smoother. Some of these are Mom Advice recipes that weren’t featured in our 21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals and the rest are from around the web that I chose to show the variety of foods that can be cooked in your slow cooker. I hope you enjoy them and that they make your meal planning a breeze!

Breakfast

slow-cooker-creamy-coconut-oatmeal

Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole @ Spend With Pennies

Crock Pot Cinnamon Roll Casserole @ Recipes That Crock

Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast with Carmelized Bananas @ I Can Cook That

Slow cooker Egg, Spinach & Ham Breakfast Casserole @ 365 Days of Crock Pot

Slow Cooker Breakfast Quinoa @ My Whole Food Life

Slow Cooker Black Bread @ Kleinworth Co.

Slow Cooker Bread Pudding @ Nourishing Joy

Lunch

slow_cooker_black_beans

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches @ The Recipe Critic

Lentil Sweet Potato Chili @ Delightful Adventures

Sausage-Bean Soup with Spinach & Tomatoes @ An Oregon Cottage

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwhiches @ Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Skinny Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken @ Skinny Mom

Garbanzo Bean-Veggie Pitas with Creamy Avocado Dressing @ BHG

Dinner

slow-cooker-carnitas

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Slow Cooker Meatloaf @ The Magical Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggies @ Damn Delicious

Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta @ The Cooking Jar

Slow Cooker Dinner Rolls @ Growing Up Gabel

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas @ Cooking Classy

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken & Rice @ The Southern Plate

Slow cooker BBQ Ribs @ Number 2 Pencil

Slow Cooker Macaroni & Cheese @ The Food Network

Crockpot Sweet & Sour Chicken @ The Frugal Girls

Pin It

3 Challenges & Solutions to Meal Planning for My Family

Monday, August 17th, 2015

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Meal Planning Challenges & Solutions

Sometimes I think my family is out to get me. I mean, surely they can’t be so obnoxious without some planning or plotting! Could they be this difficult naturally? All at the same time? Without coordinating their attack on my patience and sanity?

These are the thoughts that bombard me several times a week, almost always in regard to dinner.

DINNER. They want it every single day. Every! Single! Day! And do they want the same things? NO!

Sigh. Okay, fine. They’re probably not out to get me. But I bet I’m not the only wife/mom/home manager to feel that way – especially around dinnertime! So in case you also struggle with picky eaters or busy schedules or lack of motivation (oh, just me?), I thought I’d take a look at three of the challenges – and their solutions – I face to meal planning for my family.

1. Time

Every Sunday night my husband and I have the same conversation. It goes like this:

Me: Heavy sigh.
Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Nothing. Just thinking about everything I need to do.
Him: Can I help you?
Me: No. I just need more hours. Could you give me more hours?

Poor guy. He just wants to snuggle on the couch and watch another episode of Blue Bloods with his wife, and here I am mentally reviewing my to-do list and trying to figure out how to get it all done – no – get ANYTHING done. Because I often feel like the repetitive but necessary tasks of everyday life take up 90% of my time, leaving me very little margin for new ideas, extra projects or defrosting my refrigerator.

So when I think about making a menu and a corresponding grocery list, it feels overwhelming. I mean, REALLY. Who has three hours to sift through all those yummy recipes I’ve pinned and clipped over the years to find five or six meals to make in the coming week? And then to choose sides to go with it? And look in the pantry and fridge to see if we already have any of the ingredients? And THEN make a list?

Gah. It seems so much faster, in the moment, to just hop in the car, drive to the store and buy what I think we need for the week. Except . . . you know just as well as I do . . . that does not EVER save me time. Or money. Or that precious commodity: sanity. Going to the store without a plan never results in the right combination of food for a week of meals! I KNOW THIS! So, how do I resist the temptation to do it anyway?

Easy. I don’t make a new menu every week.

I have a few basic meal plans that I can rotate, based on categories for each day. (e.g. Monday is something grilled because my husband has more time that day, and Wednesday is something fast and easy because my daughter has piano lessons that night.)

And those new recipes I want to try? I remember that I’m not actually Betty Crocker and limit myself to one or two a month. Because seriously, our family favorites are favorites for a reason. (And, honestly, my family would happily eat tacos every single week for the rest of our lives.)

Speaking of tacos, I know a lot of people who use theme nights for the meal plans. So Monday is Italian night, Tuesday is Mexican night, etc. Sometimes I do this, too – although sometimes it’s to remind us not to have Mexican three times a week.

2. Preferences

“Preferences” seemed like a nicer way to put it than, “Picky eaters.” But that’s really the issue, isn’t it? One of the things we say often in my house is that different people like different things. I started this to help my oldest daughter understand that just because someone likes green or football or country music or tattoos or Minecraft, they aren’t weird. They just like different things.

But for the love of sweet potatoes (which some of us like and some don’t), finding food that all four of us like gets harder every day! And while I am NOT a short-order cook, I do want all my people to get enough to eat. So where’s the balance?

My solution for now is to cater to their wishes – sometimes. I know what they like (until they change their minds again), so I plan to fix those foods and those meals often.

But sometimes I want to fix and serve something that one or two of them don’t like. And in those cases, we always have peanut butter and bread (if it’s the main dish) or cup of peaches and applesauce (if it’s a side dish). I’ll let my daughter replace one of our foods, but then she has to make do with the others. So if she doesn’t want green beans OR rice, she has the choice of which one to “choke down” and which one to replace with fruit. That’s our compromise.

As for new foods or new recipes, everybody has to try a few bites. And in the case of new recipes, we take a vote after giving it a try. If the majority (or at least the parents) like it, then we add it to the rotation. If not, well, at least we tried!

3. Motivation

Last but DEFINITELY not least is the biggest challenge of all in my house: motivation. I have to confess: sometimes I’m just lazy. Or busy. Or tired. Or ALL OF THE ABOVE! And the last thing I want to do is think ahead or make one more list. Especially after a week that’s included a bombed recipe or forgotten plans or unexpected dinners out.

But all I have to do is a little math to get myself back on track. I know how much I spend on groceries when we’re planning and cooking meals on a regular basis at my house. So a quick calculation of how much we’ve spent on fast food and take-out when I’ve slacked off will cure my lack of motivation REAL FAST.

Plus, I know that we eat a lot healthier when we eat at home. And sure, I might not have to do dishes, but my trash can (and dining room table) is overflowing with Styrofoam cups and paper bags! Yuck.

Staying mindful of those realities – and remembering my easy meal plan solutions – helps me plan meals for my family (and stay sane while doing it)!

What challenges do you face when meal planning for your family?

Pin It

21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Slow cooker meals are always a cornerstone of our family’s meal plans since it’s so convenient to have dinner cooking while you’re away (or breakfast cooking while you sleep!). Which makes it perfect to republish this article full of slow cooker meal ideas for our Focus on Meal Planning M Challenge. I hope you enjoy seeing these recipes again!

21 Easy Slow Cooker Meals from MomAdvice.com

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to my slow cooker! And so I’m sharing 21 of our favorite slow-cooker meal recipes that you can create and enjoy all month long. These recipes are a few of our tried and trues over the years on MomAdvice and will make your week go oh-so-much smoother!

I believe that the slow cooker can be every mother’s (or father’s!) best friend. What could be easier than throwing in a few ingredients, plugging it in, and then going about your day, without the worries of needing to figure out what everyone is going to eat for dinner?

Ninja Cooker

Truth be told, I have moved up in the slow cooking world and am now madly in love with my Ninja Cooker. I use it almost daily and love that I don’t have to dirty my stove or skillets to brown my meat anymore. I would definitely add that one to your next holiday wish list! You can read more of my thoughts on that over here.

In honor of this kitchen gadget, I have put together a month’s worth of meals using your slow cooker. Each of these meals will have a recipe and tips for making your dinner hour go more smoothly. Keep in mind that many of the recipes accommodate six to eight people so you may be able to cover (at least) a month’s worth of meals.

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Wings

 

Side Ideas- Fresh veggies & blue cheese dressing for dipping, steamed broccoli, and fresh fruit.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Side Ideas- Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins & Salad

 Sticky Chicken Recipe

1 tbsp salt

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp dried oregano leaves

2 tsp dried thyme leaves

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

3 lb roasting chicken

1 cup chopped onion

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken and onion. Rub herb mixture inside and outside of chicken. Place in food storage bag; seal bag. Refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from bag; stuff with onion. Place in crockpot on low 6-8 hours; high 2-4 hours. Chicken juices should run clear and chicken reaches 180*. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Side Ideas- Mashed Potatoes & Corn

Pot Roast Italiano

Pot Roast Italiano

 

Side IdeasRoasted Green Beans & Orzo Pasta
Tortellini & Turkey Divine

 Tortellini & Turkey Divine

1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage turkey

2 clove garlic– minced

2 small onions– chopped

2 cans whole peeled tomatoes- 16 ounce cans

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

5 cups beef broth

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 zucchini- sliced

1 green bell pepper- chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 package cheese-filled tortellini

 

In a large pot, cook sausage over medium heat until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pan, reserving 3 tablespoons. Cook garlic and onion in reserved fat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, and oregano. Transfer to a slow cooker, and stir in sausage, zucchini, bell pepper, and parsley. Cover, and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain water, and add pasta to the slow cooker. Simmer for a few minutes, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Side Ideas- Salad & Fresh Fruit

Slow Cooked Italian Beef

Italian Beef Sandwiches

Side Ideas- Oven Fries & Apple Slices

Sloppy Joes

 Side Ideas- Tortilla Chips & Carrot Sticks

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

Side Ideas- Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins & Fresh Fruit

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat – cubed

2.5 cups carrots

2.5 cups potatoes

1 cup celery

1 can diced tomatoes – with the juice poured in

1 can beef broth

1 cup water

1 tsp ground mustard

3 sprigs rosemary

Put beef in a zipper bag with a 1/4 cup of flour and toss to coat. Brown the meat in a skillet and place on the bottom of the crock pot. Coarsely chop vegetables and place on top of the meat. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes with juice, can of beef broth, water, and ground mustard. Place sprigs of rosemary on top and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours.

Side Ideas-  Make your own salad bar!

Slow Cooked Apple Oatmeal

Slow Cooked Honeycrisp Apple Oatmeal

 

Side Ideas-  Create your own oatmeal toppings bar and serve with green smoothies.

3-Ingredient Chicken Tacos

3-Ingredient Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 cup chicken broth

1 pound chicken breasts – boneless & skinless frozen chicken breasts

Dissolve taco seasoning into chicken broth. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour broth over them. Cook on LOW for 5 hours. With two forks, shred the chicken meat into bite-size pieces. Serve with your favorite taco toppings.

Side Ideas- Roasted Corn Salsa With Tortilla Chips

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

1 package Italian Turkey Sausage – mild

2 cans crushed tomatoes

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

½ cup beef broth

Brown the turkey sausage in a large skillet. Place cooked sausage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour over the sausage all of the other ingredients, including any of your own Italian seasonings. Cook sauce on low for six hours or on high for three to four hours. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 

Side Ideas- Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad & Carrot Sticks

Mongolian Beef

 Mongolian Beef 

 

Note- to make this in your slow cooker, brown the beef and then heat all the ingredients together on LOW for four hours.

Side Ideas- Brown Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ Sandwiches

 

Side Ideas- Shoestring Oven Fries & Carrot Sticks

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey

1 can chili beans with liquid

1 can kidney beans with liquid

1 can whole kernel corn with liquid

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

2 cups water

1 package taco seasoning mix

In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain & set aside. Place the ground beef, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, & taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for eight hours.

Side Ideas-  Roasted Corn Salsa With Tortilla Chips

Chicken Italiano

Chicken Italiano

 

Side Ideas- Spaghetti & a DIY Salad Bar

 Breakfast Casserole

Note- I recommend doing this one using this technique to prevent burning and even cooking.

1 pound turkey sausage – sweet or spicy

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

6 slices white bread – toasted and cut into cubes

8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

Crumble sausage and cook thoroughly. Drain meat. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together evenly. Place the casserole in the fridge overnight. In the morning put in the slow cooker for four hours on high or six hours on low.

Side Ideas- Fresh Fruit & Grapefruit Halves

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

 

Note to make this in your slow cooker, brown the chicken and then heat all the ingredients together on LOW for two-four hours.

Side Ideas- Brown Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Chicken Lasagna Florentine

2 cans cream of chicken soup – (10-3/4-oz) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium, undiluted

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry (10 ounces)

9 oz chicken – diced cooked chicken (two small or one large boneless skinless chicken breast)

8 oz sour cream – low-fat

1 cup milk

2 oz grated parmesan – (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup onion – chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 cup mozzarella cheese – (4 oz) shredded part-skim

Combine first 10 ingredients in large bowl.

Spread about 1/4 cup sauce in bottom of a 5-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Add 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, breaking noodles in half as necessary to fit slow cooker. Spread one-third of chicken mixture over noodles, sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella. Layer 3 more noodles, half of remaining chicken mixture, and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Top with remaining noodles and chicken mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese.

Cover with lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting; cook 5 hours or until pasta is done.

Side Ideas- Roasted Green Beans & Grapes

 

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

3 pound chicken – whole or pieces

1 tsp dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

garlic cloves – minced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup sherry wine or chicken broth

¼ cup lemon juice

Wash chicken; pat dry; season chicken generously with salt and pepper; sprinkle half of oregano, rosemary and garlic inside cavity of chicken; melt butter in frying pan and brown chicken; transfer to slow cooker or crockpot; sprinkle with remaining oregano, rosemary and garlic; add sherry to frying pan and stir to loosen brown bits; pour into slow cooker. Cover, cook on low for 7 hours; add lemon juice and cook 1 more hour (total of 8); transfer chicken to cutting board; skim fat from juices and serve over chicken.

Side Ideas- Have two slow cookers? Try our easy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes!

Feel free to share your favorite slow cooker recipes below! I’d love to add them to our list!

This post contains affiliate links.