Easy Dinners

Let me start off with saying - we don't eat super healthy, but we do eat good and we don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Us, like many others, have our rotation of dinners that we cycle through so I thought I'd come on here and share the recipes and give you my tips of how to eat yummy without spending all your time planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning up dinners.

We shoot to only cook "real" meals two times a week and spend the rest of the week eating left overs, pulling a home made meal out of the freezer or throwing together something fast (ie. see meals always on hand) or getting Uber Eats (we only do this maybe once every other week). And trust me, we aren't going out to dinner anymore without significant planing and it hasn't happened at all since Cooper's been born.

I currently am on a dairy free diet but this post does not reflect that and we've had to cut out some of these recipes or use alternative ingredients.

So before I share my recipes, I'll share my tips first.

1. USE YOUR CROCK POT. My crock pot is my best friend and I recently just upgraded my college tailgating crock pot to a very, low end adult crock pot and we use it ALL THE time.
2. Plan big batch dinners. Most recipes I'm going to share are big batch dinners that we can either freeze or eat left overs.
3. Don't let your left overs go to waste. If you know you are going out to dinner or have other dinner plans and won't be eating your left overs, throw them in the freezer. I keep freezer pans on hand and end up doing this quite a bit. Even if it's just a single serving - throw it in there. Someone will need lunch or be extra hungry someday.
4. Double up recipes
5.Make a bunch and freeze recipe staples. For example, I hate cleaning my spiraler that I use for zuchini spaghetti so I always make enough for 3-4 meals and put the extra in the freezer so I only have to clean once. I also really hate shredding chicken so on occasion i'll throw a few packages of chicken in the crock pot for the sole purpose of shredding, freezing and using for a recipe later.
6. Opt for chopped vegetables at the store. So, I always get onions that are chopped because lets be honest - does anyone enjoy chopping onions? I hate it so bad that i sometimes get my blender out and let it do the work if I don't have a chopped one on hand.
7. If i don't want to do the crock pot because i didn't put it in early enough, ill just modify the crock pot recipes and do them on the stove top. I've specifically done this with white chicken chili when i forgot to turn on the crock put and realized it when we went to go eat dinner. It took about 20 minutes on the stove top.

So basically my tips include your crock pot and the freezer :). Now onto the good stuff, the meals we cycle through.

Big Batch Dinners

Chili - I don't typically follow any one recipe for chili but this one here is similiar to how I make our chili. I don't put sugar in it and typically put several more cans of different type of beans. The great thing about chili is it's really forgiving and you can put lots of different stuff in it. One time i even put mushrooms in it.  We can typically eat on this for 2-3 days.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili - This might be one of my favorite recipes. OMG so yummy. Recipe on The Chunky Chef. This one is seriously so quick to throw in the crock pot.

Crock Pot Jumbalaya recipe on Budget Bytes.

Million Dollar Spaghetti on Sugar Apron. I split this recipe and immediately freeze half of it because it makes A LOT!

Pesto Chicken - This is actually something I just made up one day. The easiest, and yummiest recipe ever. Put a package of chicken, carrots, 2 zuchini's, 1 squash, 1 onion, jar of pesto and a package of ranch seasoning and a dash of chicken broth in the crockpot on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. You can put the zuchini in much later if you prefer. I'd forget so I just put it in all together. Sometimes we eat it straight out of the crock pot and sometimes I make quinoa and we eat it over quinoa.

One Pan Italian Sausage from Chelseas Messy Apron. I modify it to match the veggies we want in it. We can eat on this for two dinners and two lunches... and then I get sick of it. Also, a meal i typically make quinoa with.

Photo and Alternate Recipe from Just a Taste

Zucchini Spaghetti - We've got this one mastered and don't follow a recipe but if you don't have a favorite red sauce recipe you can find one here. We actually just use jarred spaghetti sauce and put Italian sausage, peppers, onions and mushrooms in it.

For the zucchini as noodles we spiralize them and salt and pepper the shizzzz out of them, put a little olive oil in a pan and saute them for a few minutes. I skip the step most people recommend of drying your zucchini. This occasionally results in really runny spaghetti but its still yummy.

Best Ever Meatloaf from Pip and Ebby - I know meatloaf is controversy but if you hate meatloaf, i encourage you to try this recipe and CHANGE YOUR MIND. You will want to eat meatloaf for every meal. With this we typically pair garlic toast or just a bagged salad.

Easy Enchiladas - We also don't follow a recipe for this but similar to what we do is linked. Basically just ground beef, with a taco seasoning package and an onion, and put a can of corn in it. Then I roll the mixture in tortillas and pour canned enchilada sauce over them and a bag of cheese and bake. Sometimes i put beans or green chilis in them. I ALWAYS freeze an extra batch of enchiladas. I leave the sauce and cheese off of the batch i freeze and then put sauce on when we are ready to pull them out of the freezer and eat them.

Chicken Carnitas from Gimme Some Oven. Makes a ton, super delicious and can freeze the left overs.

Chicken Parm Quinoa from Fit Foodie Finds - One of our favorites and also healthy!! We typically devour this so don't ever freeze it but do eat on it for a few meals. I think it would probably freeze well though. We tend to use the chicken tenderloins instead of breast.

Reams Chicken Noodle Recipe - seriously such a hearty, yummy meal. It makes a ton so we always freeze half of it. It taste even better when you pull it out of the freezer and eat it up. We get mashed potatoes from the deli section at the store to eat with it. OH, i can never find a bay leaf so I leave that out.

Food/Meals we always have on hand
1. Stuff for BLT's. Literally every week at the grocery store I get bacon, bread, tomato and lettuce. I also always have boxes of Velveeta shells and cream on hand for a quick and easy side with BLT's.
2. Guacamole - i always have a few avocados on hand and will eat guac for a meal on occasion or just cut up an avocado for a side. This also means I always have tortilla chips on hand.
3. Naan bread pizzas. I typically grab naan bread at the store too and will make simple pizza's with them. I typically just put olive oil, mozzarella, tomato and goat cheese on mine. Or really whatever fresh produce and cheese I have on hand. Jud prefers meat so he will put shredded chicken on his (hello, chicken in freezer!).
4. Tacos - all you have to have is tortillas (which stay good forever), ground beef and taco seasoning. Super easy to whip up in about 10 minutes. and who doesn't love tacos??? We of course always have salsa and sour cream in the fridge too. And since avacados are another staple - we always throw together some guac to eat with our tacos.

So basically we eat a lot of chicken and ground beef.... But in all seriousness I hope you find some of this helpful and can find a few meals to fit into your family rotation and learn to love your crock pot and freezer as much as I do! I also only have 1-2 meals in the freezer at a time because we are constantly pulling something out to eat.

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