What's for Dinner, Mom?!!!?!!

Ugh...seriously, lately I have been dreading this dinner questions as our lives have changed from babies to school active children. I used to do Freezer Cooking-where you made all your meals for the month and stuck them in the freezer-but with constant living in my SUV, freezer cooking was not cutting it for me. My friend and I couldn't find the time to make all 30 meals and nor could I find the time to be home to make a meal. Between 4 kids, their school, their HW (another post!), dance, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, and church, I find myself hardly in the kitchen. So many nights we are eating what is easy, fast, and on hand, which usually means pasta with butter, cheese fruit, and broccoli. But even though it's my kids favorite meal besides pizza, it's just not going to cut it. So lately this is what I have been doing. Since my kids eat more than when they were infants and we are never home, I have on hand the basics for 10 of our favorite meals and try something new when I have time (see how I don't hold myself back with a schedule? I have enough schedules!). And although I do not have a "written" menu, I switch between the basic 10, as I like to call them. Here they are, they are fast, they are planned (in my head), and healthy. I ALWAYS purchase fruits and veggies weekly and no,  I do not have time to coupon as intensely as I have been known for in the past. Life's a target, and I am barely hitting the bull's eye! Hope this helps you moms out there!

The Basic 10:
1. Tomato Sauce from Costco:
Instead of buying marinara sauce, I keep these on hand to make my own. I add two jars, salt and pepper to taste, oregano, italian seasonings, and minced or fresh crushed garlic or garlic powder. And I taste it till it's perfect and voila, add to pasta on one of THOSE days!
2. Broccoli in a bag from Costco:
I love these broccoli florets. They are already cut and all I do is stick in a microwavable bowl with lid and some water and zap it for 3 mins (this idea came from my good friend Annette-saved me time for waiting for boiling water). Steamed broccoli. Add salt or whatever your kids eat it with and you have your nutrients. It lasts about 3 weeks in our house.
3. Salmon from Costco:
I always purchase a couple of Salmons from costco. This is something I have made my family eat. Two of the kids LOVE it, two of them eat it because of the treat at the end. Whatever the motivation, this is so nutritious and easy. I take out in the morning before we leave for school and put in the fridge. When we get home from soccer and what not (around 6:30 or 7:00) everyone goes to their baths and I put the Slamon on a jelly rool pan, line with foil, cover in olive oil, Greek Seasoning (a staple in this house!) and cover with feta (from Costco, duh!) and bake for 30 mins and dinner is served!
4. Chicken Breasts from you know where:
There are a TON of things you can do with the ever popular chicken. Here are my 2 FAVORITE and super fast meal options...
A) Chicken Nuggets from Skinny Taste.
B) Shredded Chicken-boil your chicken the night before and make whatever you want the next day...from shredded tacos, chicken quesadillas,  cheesy enchiladas (remember that video?), chicken pasta, the options are endless!
5. Ground Turkey...whenever they are buy one get one free from Vons or Savemart, I stock up!:
With this the options are endless again, but I always make it in lasagna or tacos. The tacos are easy which I season when at home for 15 mins and have it ready for the evening. That way assembling it up to everyone...tortillas, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, all ready to go!
6. Ground Beef:
I will put Lasagna Recipe here...it's easy and when I make it I always make two so one can go to the Freezer. It's fast and easy and it feeds us for two days!
lb ground beef
cup chopped onions
tablespoons salad oil or olive oil
1 (1
lb) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6
ounce) cans tomato paste
cups water
tablespoon chopped parsley
teaspoons salt
teaspoon sugar
teaspoon garlic powder (I use real clove garlic, minced)
teaspoon black pepper
teaspoon oregano leaves
ounces lasagna noodles
lb ricotta cheese
ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (I like it cheesey, so I use more)
cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. In large heavy pan lightly brown beef and onion in oil.
  2. Add tomatoes, paste, water, parsley, salt, sugar, garlic, pepper, and oregano; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook lasagne as directed; drain.
  4. In 13x9x2" baking pan, spread about 1 cup sauce.
  5. Then alternate layers of lasagne, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesean cheese, ending with sauce, mozzarella and parmesean.
  6. Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.
  7. Allow to stand for 15 minutes; cut in squares to serve.
  8. Makes 8 servings.
  9. I make this a lot and serve with Italian garlic bread and salad.
  10. It always gets a rave review, especially if the mozzarella strings with every bite.
7. Block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese:
I always have one of these on hand...I can make cheese quesadillas, which can be served with anything. From left over chicken to even your salmon! It's a great way to spruce things up! I always shred my own cheese!!!
8. Bell Peppers & Zucchini:
I always keep these on hand lately because stir fried veggies are fast and add a lot of nutrients to our bodies! And it's always a quick side to any meal. Add some onions, garlic, and seasonings and it adds a great punch to any meal!
9. Fruit:
These are the fruits I keep on hand 24/7. I always cut fruit and have it accessible for quick snacks and served at dinner for the kids...The hubs always sneaks some too! All depending on season as well:
Blueberries, Apples, Watermelon, Cantalope, Strawberries, Kiwi, grapes, and bananas!
10. (559)299-3060:
This is the number to the Me-n-eds on Willow and Nees. I am not ashamed that they know my name and my order. Sometimes, maybe even often, you just have to order a pizza!

Good luck with dinner...share your basic dinner secrets! I love seeing what works in everyone's home!


Sara said…
Love it!!! Especially no 10! No really you gave me some great ideas!

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