Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dinner Without Daddy

Whether you have a husband who travels or are a single mom, you still have to get dinner on the table for yourself and the kids. But if you're like me, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to put a full course meal on the table. Because typically kids don't care like grown men do. At least, that's been my experience.

I usually see nights when my husband travels as a night off from serious cooking. But the thing about kids is they still get hungry and expect a meal around dinner time. And I'm concerned with not spending a ton on constant ordering out and providing a (at least semi) nutritious meal. So today I'm sharing some of my go-to meals for those nights when I want to get a decent dinner on the table with minimum input on my part. I hope these quick and easy meals will inspire you!

Rice Bowls: shred the meat from a rotisserie chicken, cook up some brown rice, heat up some black beans and open a jar of good salsa. Put out various favorite toppings (avocado, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, black olives, sour cream etc.) and let the kids assemble their own bowls. So quick and everyone loves it.

Baked potato bar: bake some large potatoes (I do mine for one hour at 500) and put out a bunch of toppings (margarine, jarred gravy, chopped broccoli, cheese and sour cream are faves at our house) to let everyone make their own potato. If the potatoes are large enough these are quite filling.

Breakfast for dinner: I do this in a variety of ways. Sister Schubert's Sausage or cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, and grits with some cut up fruit is pretty common for us. I've even got my 12yo son making the scrambled eggs now so all I have to do is pop the frozen rolls in the oven and microwave some grits. Super easy!

Salad with chicken tenders on top: Get some frozen popcorn chicken (you could also do grilled if  you wanted to be healthier) and add it to a bagged salad. Put out a variety of toppings and dressings to let everyone construct their favorite salad. If you want to get real fancy you can prepare some French bread to go with it.

Grilled chicken in marinara sauce over whole wheat pasta: I use Perdue Short Cuts (I get them when they're on sale) and toss them in jarred marinara sauce, then cook up some whole wheat pasta (bonus if it's in a fun/different shape) and dinner is served. I make sure to have some good parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on top for my cheese lovers. (Bonus: same idea except you buy some frozen meatballs and serve the marinara and meatballs on subs.)

Subs with chips and salsa and fruit: Speaking of subs, I get a couple of half pounds of various favorite meats, buy some good dill pickles and sub rolls, along with cheese and the bagged shredded lettuce. Cut up a tomato, put out all kinds of condiments and let them go to town making their own. (Make your own is very big with me, if you can't tell.) The nice thing about this meal is there's usually enough to take for lunch the next day. I serve the subs with some good salsa and tortilla chips, and some of the pre-cut fruit they sell in the produce section. Or sometimes I'll just serve it with apple wedges. If I'm feeling especially generous, there might even be some of those big deli chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Rotisserie Chicken, baked potatoes, and corn: Buy a rotisserie chicken, throw some potatoes in the oven, and heat up some frozen corn. Doesn't get any easier.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese: I'm pretty sure this needs no explanation.

And for those nights I am just really over the whole thing, there is always the frozen stuff-- lasagna, corn dogs, pizza, burritos, etc. It's not something you want to do all the time but every so often it's gonna happen. At least, if you're anything like me it is. Happy (minimum) cooking!

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