Has this ever happened to you? You find yourself immersed in a sewing project, only to look up and find it is 5pm and you have NOTHING planned for dinner?! Eek. Suddenly you have 3 hungry children looking at you, and a husband wondering what you were thinking about for food – and you’ve got nada. Unfortunately, this happens to me more often than I care to admit. Which is why I try to keep an arsenal of recipes in my back pocket that I know make the whole family happy.
Do I cook every night? No. I try to make it my goal to cook at least 4 nights a week, and the other 3 are left overs, pizza, hot dogs, or frozen food. Whatever I can throw together in a hurry. But on those 4 nights I do cook, I like to make it count.
And to answer the other question I get all too often, ‘how do you do it all? Manage a blog and take care of the family?’. I go grocery shopping every Monday morning after I drop the kids off at school – with a list for at least 3 meals. This way I already have the ingredients on hand for some of these recipes and can simply throw them together when the time comes. I keep it scheduled every Monday morning, that way I am done with groceries before 9am and the week has barely begun. Sure – I might need to swing by the store throughout the week – but it is only for an item here or there (like if we run out of milk)….rather than an entire list.
So here are my ‘Go To’ recipes, the ones I keep in my back pocket that make the whole family happy. Because less time worrying about dinner = more time sewing.
Who knows, maybe this will help someone else out of a cooking rut (which I get into all too often). Because you never know when the next great recipe will come along that will enter your personal family cooking rotation schedule.
Our ‘Go To’ Family Recipes.
1. Slow Cooker Taco Soup
This is quite possibly our favorite soup / chili recipe. Just add sour cream and cheddar cheese on the top when you are done and everyone is happy! I also add 2 cans of black beans to the recipe to keep my kids happy because they LOVE black beans! My 3 year old may not eat a whole bowl, but he will ask you to pick out all of the beans in your soup so that he can eat them up. And that to me is a WIN.
2. Honey Curry Chicken
DO NOT LET THE NAME OF THIS RECIPE SCARE YOU AWAY!! You can barely taste any curry, and it is seriously one of the tastiest dishes we make. Every single child of mine gobbles this meal up like it is their j-o-b. It is easily one of my kid’s favorite dishes, with requests coming in all of the time for it.
3. Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
I don’t have a recipe for this written down, but firmly believe every family should have an easy spaghetti dish they can throw together in under 30 minutes. I typically replace the hamburger with turkey – and everybody loves it. Definitely my 3 year old’s fave – as he asks for seconds every time. Not the cleanest meal (ummm…how did you get spaghetti on your HEAD?!). But it always makes us smile.
I am not talking about the hamburger meat tacos, which are good too and my eldest loves. But rather have some grilled chicken on hand and throw them into a small flour tortilla with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream…instant success. My kids love these basic tacos, with a side of fresh carrots. They easily eat 3 of them each, and the best part is this dinner takes less than 10 minutes to throw together if you keep grilled chicken on hand like we do.
5. Korean Beef & Rice
Oh my goodness, have you tried this yet?!!! It is so stinking good!! I substitute steak for the hamburger, and my kids seriously eat this straight out of the pan before it even makes it onto the plates. So so good. Highly recommended!!!
6. Easy Grandma’s Meatloaf
Just like the spaghetti listed above, everyone should have an easy go-to meatloaf recipe. And I adore this one because it uses only 4 ingredients!! I mean – it is seriously the easiest meatloaf to throw together, and tastes so yummy and juicy when it is done!! I do add an onion to it for my husbands sake, but the kids just pick the onion out. So so good. Perfect for these cold winter nights with mashed potatoes and green beans. How do I get my kids to eat green beans you ask? We have ‘green bean races’ at the table to see who can eat their green beans fastest – lol, just another ordinary dinner at the Abbott household.
7. Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken
Another 4 ingredient recipe that you can throw in the crock pot in the morning, and walk away. Gotta love those! I add some frozen peas and carrots to mine, to make it more like chicken pot pie, and serve it with rice and biscuits. Yum, yum, yum. My eldest loves when I make this meal!
8. Crock Pot French Dip
I made these recently for a get together with friends, and everyone seriously RAVED about them. For the kids I put them on little sliders instead of the big ole crusty bread – and they loved them! It is a newbie on the rotation schedule, but oh so good! And if you can’t tell, anything that has ‘crock pot’ in the title already has a leg up with me.
9. Fried Rice
No recipe for this, but it is surprisingly easy to make!!! Perfect for when you have left over steak, chicken, pork, or shrimp! Or you can just make it vegetable fried rice. Have a rice cooker? Then you’ve already won half the battle. Now fry up some onion, garlic, and frozen vegetables – throw in the rice, scrambled eggs and meat with soy sauce and salt & pepper – and you have a delicious meal! A big time family fave.
10. Best Enchiladas Ever
She ain’t lying when she says these are the best ever. They really are! Oh my goodness, I was SO BUMMED when the leftovers ran out of this awesome meal. So so so so good. Like, I am drooling even typing about it. MAKE THESE. Stat. This is a fun recipe to make WITH the hubby on a stay-at-home date night when you can cook together. Greg and I have a blast doing that, and it helps bring us closer together…while drinking wine of course and listening to some old time jazz.
And there you have it, a top 10 list! There are other items I make a lot that are not included, such as:
- Salads – I love to make those all of the time and mix it up with about 5 different variations. But these are mainly for my husband and myself – the kids don’t love em….yet.
- Quesedillas – something I throw together when they have caught me red-handed without a meal planned.
- Hamburgers / Pasta & Fruit Salads in the summer
- PIZZA! Letting the kids make their own can be a lot of fun. I tend to do a mix between frozen pizza, with handmade toppings for the kids. Letting the kids put their own selected toppings on it. The best part? My kids favorite pizza is the store-bought $1 personal pizza. Seriously, they cheer when I pull it out of the freezer. So sad.
- Ravioli – the frozen kind. I cringe a tad saying this, because my kids seriously ask for this at least twice a week – and I am constantly having to say ‘no’. But gosh dang it, do they love ravioli.
And when I am truly desperate…
- Breakfast for dinner. As in, my fridge is empty and I feel like the worst mother in the world because I did not find the time to make it to the store and put all of my sewing needs before their hungry bellies. I totally play it off like ‘HEY – ITS A FUN NIGHT!!! Breakfast for dinner!! Yeah!!!’. And they all flip thinking I have given them the biggest treat.
So there you have it!
Hopefully this will help you, like it does me. So when push comes to shove and 5:00 rolls around – you won’t find yourself panicking as you rummage through the kitchen cabinet desperately looking for something to jump out and bite you.
Tell me – what are some of your favorite ‘Go To’ Recipes?
I am always on the look out for great new ideas and meals!
Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…