The crazy-making dance between home schooling and full-time work reaches a fever pitch at dinner time. Negotiating with the family and yourself about when you can put the work away, it’s time for more paralyzing decisions about what dinner to procure, or even worse, prepare and clean up after.
Before I start this post shamelessly promoting a few favorite grocery store brands, I’ll clarify, in case it’s not instantly obvious, this is not a sponsored post. Now more than every baking out of the pantry and what lies in the fridge is important, and calming.
Retro easy recipe – sloppy joes
Hidden veggie sloppy joes come together quickly when you use the food processor to chop all the veggies at once, and then toss them with the beef in the skillet. It uses a cup of ketchup but the veggies give it some sweetness and lighten it up. We eat them with a sprinkle of cheese on a bun, toast, or in a taco boat.
Breakfast Taco Boats
Toss some cooked sausage, ham or bacon in a taco boat with cheese and an egg or two. You can whisk the egg or not, sprinkle seasoning like our favorite spice, then bake at 400 for 10 minutes or so. I often add a few halved cherry tomatoes or hey, even green onion. Sometimes the family prefers scrambled, not baked. But this way is easy to customize for each person without the extra work of omelettes.
Did you know tater tots are proven to improve the mood of children and adults alike? They achieve this by perfecting the cylindrical shape which maximizes both crunchiness and crispiness, and also act as a foil for toppings. I delighted the boys with this tot casserole last weekend, with leftovers that also reheat beautifully. But tots can also stand in amazingly for tortilla chips in tot’chos. Top with taco meat of some kind, cheese and beans and you have a kid and adult-friendly meal.
I must admit I am a sucker for some prepared foods to make life easier. Interestingly, in my grocery store the chicken and beef is typically gone but there is some pork to be found. I like to grab the Smithfield marinated pork loins and tenderloins.
With the sweet and smoky flavored one I typically throw it in the crock pot on low in the morning and then serve with cornbread, baked beans and coleslaw. The carnitas one is good for tacos or nachos. I use the garlic and herb variety to serve as a greek bowl with rice and veggies or as a greek sandwich with pitas, lettuce and tzatziki sauce. This week we did brown rice, lentils and roasted asparagus. I made a greek yogurt lemon garlic sauce for atop since I did not have tzatziki. It really bites back. I swore I could still taste garlic when I woke up in the morning.
We are missing most of our local Chinese restaurants. Our favorite one, Chopstix, closed down and it has been very sad. One place we have always frequented is the H Mart, where we pick up these Korean dumplings. The ladies giving samples always convinced us when we would make our trips on Saturdays. They are great for an easy dinner with some veggies on the side, whether stir fried or microwaved.
With a few staples that are versatile you can make some good meals that take minimum effort. Slow cooker liners or parchment paper help to make cleanup a bit easier too.
What is your favorite shortcut meal? Aside from frozen pizza? 😉