It seems like many of the stores are catching up on their supply, and thankfully there always seems to be an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve compiled a few simple recipes here to hopefully give you some new ideas for dinner!
Why Are They Always Hungry?
Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they are cooking or washing dishes…ALL. THE. TIME right now?!
Sheltering in place has been a wonderful reminder of what it’s like to just slow down, focus on the moment, and treasure some extra special time with my kiddos.
My husband is a first responder and is still working full time. As an educator, I am home full time with the kiddos now and so inevitably, that also makes me the head chef of the household!
I didn’t think I would miss the ease of paying for school lunches because somehow, my kids have gone from eating normally to tiny humans with an insatiable hunger!
We’ve begun allowing them to pick their food out the night before. In the morning they can visually see how many snacks they have for the day.
Simple Recipes Under 20 Minutes
Even though we have more “time” on our hands, having meals that are easy to prepare and cook are key. Sharing my favorite meals that take 20 minutes or less to prepare.
Tomato Soup Recipe
One of my favorite comfort foods is a really good, creamy tomato soup. I’m not sure who came up with this combo, but thank you! It’s two ingredients, takes a few minutes to heat up, and the result is a to-die-for bowl of comfort soup.
1 small jar of bruschetta mix
1 large carton or can of your favorite tomato soup
My favorite is the tomato and roasted red pepper soup from Trader Joe’s paired with their jarred bruschetta topping.
All you have to do is pour both ingredients into a saucepan and heat them up! I like to hit mine with an immersion blender for a creamier texture.
Optional: top with fresh basil and serve with a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich
Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe
This was a must-have in our family when I was a kid. Definitely not a fancy or high-class dish, but even as an adult, I still crave it! Oh, and did I mention it is EASY!
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
2 cans Campbell’s tomato soup (I like this brand because it’s thick)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb. bowtie pasta
All you have to do is cook and drain the ground beef. At the same time, cook your pasta according to the directions on the box and drain when finished. Then add the ground beef, cheese, tomato soup, salt and pepper to taste and mix!
One Pot…or One Sheet Meals
These recipes are simple and require only one pot or sheet! That means, easy to clean up for mom!
Crockpot Chili Recipes
This recipe is from my sweet friends Jeena and Lauren, with a few additions from my own kitchen. It’s hearty, filling, and has just a little bit of a kick in the heat department. I am not a big fan of bean-based chilis, so this has turned into one of my absolute favorites. But you can easily add your favorite type of beans.
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 tube of Jimmy Dean HOT sausage (or your favorite brand/flavors
sometimes I add 2 links of sliced linguica if I have it
1 small chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cans of chili style tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 can diced green chilis
½ – 1 cup water if you want a thinner chili
**Secret ingredient: Mezzetta hot chili peppers plus the juice. Lauren taught us this trick and these seriously add the BEST flavor! We like our chili spicy, so I typically add 7-10 peppers plus ½ of the jar of juice. Use less for a milder flavor
I like to pre-cook the meat, garlic, and onions in a separate pan and then add them to the crockpot. (You can also put the meat into the crockpot on high until it is cooked thoroughly). Then add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Spoon over a baked potato, eat with chips, or top with cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, and red onion!
“Nacho” Fries (from your favorite leftover meat)
This is a great go-to recipe because you can use leftover meat from a previous dinner. Carne asada or pulled pork are my favorites but you could easily use leftover chili from the recipe above.
1 bag of your favorite frozen french fries OR russet potatoes cut into thin wedges or thin shoestrings (about 1 potato per person)
Your favorite “nacho” toppings.
Diced red onion
Cook your frozen fries according to package directions or toss fresh potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder and roast at 400 for 30-35 minutes.
Once your potatoes are cooked, take the sheet pan out of the oven and switch it over to broil.
Top the fries with your chopped meat or chili and your nacho toppings. Broil under high heat until the meat is warmed and the cheese is melted and bubbly! Then add sour cream and guacamole and enjoy!
Vegetarian Recipe Options
Quick and Easy Pesto Recipe
My sweet neighbor Jessica has an herb grower and always offers up her extras when trimming the herbs. The last time she delivered some, I decided to make them into a quick pesto. Pesto is typically basil centered but this combo turned out amazing!
5 leaves of basil
1 cup fresh dill
1 cup curly parsley
2-4 tablespoons fresh extra virgin olive oil (depending on how smooth you like your pesto)
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
juice of ½ lemon
8 walnuts (you could also use almonds, cashews, or pine nuts)
½ cup parmesan cheese
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. Turn the processor to blend, and slowly add the olive oil.
We like to put fresh pesto on eggs, pasta, toast, pizza crust, roasted potatoes, or spread it on sandwiches and burritos!
P.S. I love these herbs so much that I bought this grower!
Carrot Ribbon “Pasta” Recipe
I had an abundance of carrots one time and decided to use them as a substitute for pasta. This could easily be done with any veggie, but carrots are great because they maintain their “bite”, whereas things like squash noodles tend to get soggy.
All you have to do is wash your carrots and use a veggie peeler to create “ribbons”. Then toss them in a pan with some olive oil, butter, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and any other chopped veggies. Saute for 5-8 minutes, or until the carrots are softened, but still have a bite to them.
Use the pesto recipe above, and combine with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and diced zucchini for another great combo.
If you are a seafood eater, this is also great with shrimp or topped with a beautiful piece of grilled halibut.
Roasted Broccoli Recipe
This is my family’s favorite way to eat broccoli!
Simply toss it with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. After that, roast at 400 for 10-12 minutes and enjoy! A fellow NNM contributor suggests topping with nutritional yeast for a cheesy pop of flavor!
Here are a few ideas for simple twists to meals that allow kids to be part of the fun! We also have a great article on snack ideas!
Have them add a few drops of food coloring in their favorite shade to waffle or pancake batter.
Order a “kids box” from Doughboys Donuts for a fun, Sunday morning donut decorating adventure.
Allow them to help you make up new tasty smoothie recipes. I have found that protein-packed smoothies keep my littles from snacking as much throughout the day. Our favorite combo is ice, water, fresh (or canned) pineapple, and coconut extract.
Create a “cookbook scrapbook” of recipes and photos of them helping. Put them together in a book for great memories in these crazy times.
Don’t feel bad about ordering take out! Plus, it gives you a chance to support local restaurants while also giving you a break. Check out our full list of local eateries that are offering take-out and curbside pick-up.
Get The Family Involved
Above all, no one is grading our ability to be a top-notch chef during these times. Our kids are going to be a reflection of our own attitude as we approach this situation.
If we are constantly stressed and on edge, that tends to rub off on our kiddos. Include them in the process of planning and preparing! This gives them an activity to focus on, and the feeling that they got to help!
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.