Whether you’re a stay at home mama, work from home girl boss, or a corporate climber, we all have one thing in common, our lives are busy. I thought my life would slow down when I left the classroom to spend more time at home.
But running a blog, driving three kids non-stop, and being a firewife filled all the free time I thought I would have to sip champagne and get pedicures. Which is why I am sharing my favorite quick and easy dinner recipes for the family!
My love for cooking
There’s a reason the term “soul food” came into being. Because certain flavors, recipes, and dishes do just that…they feed your soul. When I die, I want heaven to smell like garlic, butter, and olive oil sauteing in a pan. Yeah, I’m weird.
I come from a really large family that has always gathered around a common thing…our love for preparing meals to share. The memories of watching my uncles prep for catering jobs, the smell of my Aunt Karen’s berry cobbler, and asking my mom to teach me how to make the perfect chicken fried steak, instilled in me a love for creating dishes that brings joy to those I get to feed.
Even as a grown adult, I still love to watch my godfather cook. He still teaches me lessons that can’t be learned in culinary school.
Cooking is something that calms me. Well, that and a good glass of champagne. I could spend hours in the kitchen preparing a single dish. I do, however, know that the thought of being in a kitchen for hours sounds like a modern-day form of torture for some people.
Kind of like the way I feel about budgets. And washing dishes. And math.
So here are two main dishes and two sides that will hopefully take the fuss out of cooking on a busy weeknight.
And make your life easier and opt to online grocery shop! You can pick up your order or have it delivered to your home. That’s time savings I want and need.
Main Dish #1: Crockpot Marinara
Sure. You can buy a jar of spaghetti sauce from the store but a few extra steps and a trusty crockpot and by the time you get home from work, a rich, flavor-packed sauce will be waiting for you…along with a pretty darn good smell radiating through your house. Ladle it on pasta, spaghetti squash, or dunk a whole loaf of french bread in it.
I choose the latter on days when I want to lock myself in my closet and hide from my children. It can also be placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to three months.
In a crockpot, add the following:
4 – 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
Three tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon each of dried basil, parsley, oregano, and chili powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder (go with a tablespoon if you like a stronger flavor)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup of water
Stir the ingredients and set your crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. The natural sugar in the tomatoes creates a rich and divine sauce that requires nothing more than a few ingredients and measuring spoons!
Main Dish #2: Quick and Easy Asian Chicken
I learned this recipe from my cousin Zack and love it because there are literally only four ingredients. He is one of the greatest chefs I know and was the only person I trusted to cater my wedding.
I wanted my guests to leave saying “that was the best wedding dinner I have ever had” and he certainly accomplished that. He graduated from the California Culinary Academy but he taught me that sometimes, all you need is just a few simple ingredients and some grill fire.
The flavor in this chicken is so delicious that it can be eaten alone, or my favorite, create lettuce wraps by adding thinly sliced onion and just a few hits of siracha for some spice!
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 cup Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
2 packages boneless/skinless chicken thighs (I get mine from Costco and there’s typically between 4-6 thighs in each package)
Yep. That’s it!
All you have to do is whisk the first three ingredients together and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 4 hours and up to overnight.
Next, grill the thighs on medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until the internal temp of the chicken hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can bake the chicken in the oven but the sugar in the marinade, combined with a hot flame, creates a charred crust that makes it even better.
The same recipe will work for 6-8 chicken breasts, just increase the grill time to 8-10 minutes on each side.
Side Dish #1: Sauteed Garlic Green Beans
My kids go crazy for these and there are almost never any leftovers! Garlic lovers beware!
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-4 garlic cloves
16 oz green beans
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a saucepan, melt one tablespoon of butter with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over low heat. Once it is melted, add 2-4 cloves of garlic that you have finely minced. If you LOVE garlic as we do, go with four.
Meanwhile, add a bag of whole, raw green beans with the ends trimmed, to a large pot of boiling water. The pros call this blanching. It takes the raw bite out of the green beans.
After four minutes, drain the beans and add them to the garlic, butter, and oil.
Saute for 2 minutes and make sure to toss them frequently so they all get covered with garlicky goodness. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot!
Side Dish #2: Corn Salad
In my hometown in California, we have access to the freshest produce you can find. In the summer, local vendors serve roasted corn from carts, and let me just tell you, there is nothing better than grilled corn smothered in mayo, cotija cheese, chili spice and served on a stick!
I’ve never seen my husband run faster than when those carts go down the street. I created this recipe for the winter months when I can’t get fresh corn on the cob and I’m craving a taste of home.
Mix the following in a bowl.
1 bag of frozen corn that has been thawed
½ diced jalapeno. Make sure to remove the seeds unless you want it HOT! You can also use the whole jalapeno if you want extra heat
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
¼ cup Mexican cotija cheese
¼ cup diced bell pepper…any color, except green. Those taste like nothing.
2 tablespoons minced red onion1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon mayo. TRUST me on this!
Pinch of salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon of Tajin seasoning
Juice of ½ lemon
Optional: diced avocado
Toss it all together and eat it with a spoon, scoop it up with chips, or put it on your tacos!
When it comes to cooking for the family, quick and easy dinner recipes are the way to go. Especially when you can set that crockpot and when the family is ready to eat, the food is ready!
What are your favorite meals to cook for your family?
Megan Rix is a former at-risk high school English teacher turned stay at home mama, lifestyle blogger, and entrepreneur. After leaving the classroom to focus on being a mama, she needed a place to document the life of her very strong-willed child and what she realized along the way were all the things in her life that “anchored” her. A love for food, beauty, family, and giving back to others helped shape the blog as it looks today. Follow her on Instagram @thisanchoredlife and her blog site www.thisanchoredlife.com.