There is nothing more satisfying than knowing I made a meal that was healthy (ish) and that my boys loved it. It’s really hard to find that winning combination. I love to cook. I love finding recipes that make my boys happy. But I also like to play with my boys in the evenings, and that is really hard to do when I’m rushing home after work and trying to get dinner on the table.
Week nights are a struggle in our house. I get home around 5:30; the boys have already been home for about 40 minutes.
They’ve had snacks to tide them over, but are otherwise starving.
I found that we weren’t sitting down to eat until almost 6:30, so there wasn’t much eating going on; mostly just tantrums due to being overly hungry and tired – the boys weren’t happy either.
I challenged myself to prepare meals for one entire week. Less stress. More play.
A few things to keep in mind:
**I did as much meal prep over my lunch hour as possible and will note what portions I did on my lunch hour
**I tend to loosely follow recipes. I substitute at will for ingredients I like better or have on hand. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a flop (ask my husband about cream cheese tomato soup!). I will note any changes to the original recipe.
I really do try to make wholesome Sunday dinners. Honestly. I do. But if I didn’t do my meal planning on Saturday then I’m left scrambling on Sunday. That was the situation this week. Riddled by guilt from the countless Sundays we have eaten peanut butter sandwiches I refused to let this be another.
What is more wholesome and easy than meatloaf? I didn’t think meatloaf could get any easier, but it did. Boxed stuffing replaced all the ingredients I root around in my pantry for.
Served with a side of potatoes and gravy, we had a wholesome Sunday dinner
I used this recipe from Dancing through the Minefields
- Double the recipe and use ground beef because my boys like meatloaf
Rummaging through our deep freeze I found two packages of steak. Old, slightly freezer burned (hello lazy storage) steaks. They looked pitiful and there is no way I could convince the husband to grill them. I pulled them out and hit Pinterest hard trying to find a recipe that masks the flavor of freezer burnt meat. Luckily, the Midnight Baker has a recipe for Skillet Steak and Potatoes that I was able to use!
- Doubled the amount of potatoes to use up the bag I have had lying around
- Sliced a green pepper up that was in the fridge and needed to go
- Tossed with olive oil (plenty of it), garlic powder, Nature’s Season Salt, onion flake, and onion powder
- Marinated it in the fridge for about 4 hours (prepped over my lunch break)
- Baked on a foil lined cookie sheet for 45 minutes
- All of it except putting it on the baking sheet and baking it!
The result? Well, everybody ate it and it used up some food we had lying around.
I would like to use this as a foil recipe for camping. Cook it all over the fire for an easy, yummy camping dinner. Adding mushrooms to the foil packet of course.
I didn’t grocery shop this week and that was a mistake. I rifled around each morning trying to figure out what to make for supper. Pinterest to the rescue, once again. I found a simple Salisbury steak recipe at Cincy Shopper
- My oldest loves meatballs, so instead of patties I made meatballs
- Pork gravy instead of brown gravy. Why? Because I didn’t have any brown gravy.
- Served over noodles with a side of green beans
Mixed the meat and other ingredients in a bowl
Formed the meatballs and stored in the fridge.
Mixed the gravy mixture and stored in the fridge. When I got home all I had to do was cook the meatballs, add the gravy, and boil the pasta.
The result? Pretty tasty. We’ll be making this one again (even though the oldest now claims he hates meatballs….)
The last couple of meals were good, but there weren’t any leftovers. Not because they were that amazing, but because I was using scraps and there wasn’t enough to go around. My poor husband and I have gone lunch-less, or eating sub par sandwiches from the vending machine at work. So I hit Pinterest again, looking for recipes with ingredients I had, but something that would stretch a bit.
Enter One Pot Chili Mac from Damn Delicious (and it was!)
- I didn’t sauté the burger with diced onion; because who has time for that? Instead I added a teaspoon of pre-minced garlic from my fridge
- Added plenty of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion flake, and oregano. Add for your own personal taste; I’m stingy, but not when it comes to seasoning.
- I didn’t drain or rinse the beans, and used full cans (I’m not leaving two partly opened cans of beans in my fridge)
- I used kidney beans and red beans, because that’s what I had.
- I didn’t have any canned tomatoes, but thought it needed tomato “something” – so I added a small can of tomato soup
- A mixture of shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and Colby jack because I had three almost empty bags of cheese in the fridge
- All of it. I browned the meat and mixed all the ingredients except the noodles and the cheese.
- Placed the large stock pot with all the stuff in the fridge; when I got home all I had to do was heat the chili mixture to a simmer, add the pasta, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes while I got into yoga pants.
My husband has loved Mexican food since the day I met him. I like it, but it can be hard to get our toddler to enjoy it as much. Luckily, the toddler loves chicken. And I like easy. With this Salsa Chicken Casserole from Budget Bytes we all win. The only mistake I made was not making
- Other than an extra bit of chili pepper, I didn’t make any changes to this recipe (ok…maybe a little extra corn)
- All of it. I mixed everything in a casserole dish, covered it in foil, popped it in the fridge, and my husband popped it in the oven when he got home.
My son could survive on chicken nuggets alone. Seriously. When he goes on a hunger strike for whatever reason, chicken nuggets are an instant lifesaver. While we do eat fast food, I don’t prefer to make it a nightly habit. And truth be told I like chicken nuggets too – but prefer a slightly healthier version. Luckily I found this recipe from SkinnyTaste.
- Honestly, I make a slightly different variation of this each time – some sort of breadcrumbs or panko, mix of seasons, and parmesan. It’s a great recipe for cleaning out the cupboards a bit.
Saturdays around here are generally big breakfast days. It makes for fun family time in the kitchen, the boys get their weekly dose of syrup, and I get some quiet time in the afternoon to meal plan. We generally do some sort of waffle or pancake, and eggs and bacon if the husband is lucky!
Spring is finally here!!! That means I can take a break from cooking and leaving it up to the man in charge of the grill. Sunday’s dinner was super easy.
- Marinate a couple of steaks of your choice (we had rib eye steaks bigger than my head…thanks to the quarter cow we purchased earlier!) in a mixture of oil, water, garlic, onion powder, season salt, and whatever else you have on hand and smells good
- Have husband place them on the grill.
For sides I throw a salad on the table and some sort of Rice-a-Roni side dish. Dinner. Fast and easy! While the husband is grilling I get some extra outdoor play time in with my boys.
This was a great experience. We had nice weather and I was able to enjoy it rather than spend my evenings cooking. I will add these recipes to my arsenal and continue my hunt for easy recipes that I can pre-prepare!
What are your go to recipes for week nights?