Getting dinner on the table to feed your family after a long day can sometimes feel like an overwhelming impossibility. But a healthy, wholesome meal doesn’t have to take a lot of time or even a lot of planning ahead.
Here are some of the meals I’ve served up recently for our homeschooling family of 7.
As the weather gets warmer, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that soup season is over. Instead of pulling out a standard soup for dinner, I pulled out a summer meal I hadn’t made in many months: veggie pasta salad with poached chicken.
I used to chop all the veggies with a knife and patience, but the mandolin my husband gave me for my birthday really sped up the process.
I love a colorful dinner: whole wheat spaghetti, peppers, zucchini, carrots, and broccoli made it into this one, because that’s what I had on hand. I used an asian-style dressing on this version, but my family prefers the Italian herb version.
Costco sometimes has cold chicken leg quarters for sale from the previous day’s rotisserie leftovers. I’ve done the weighing and calculations and figured out it really is the cheapest price-per-pound of chicken if you’re weighing cooked and deboned meat. So, I always pick up a tray when I’m there and they have it.
This time I pulled off all the meat, then poured over a homemade teriyaki sauce (soy, chicken broth, brown sugar, cornstarch) and stuck it in the oven with the rice to warm up. It was delicious, quick, and simple!
The bones, of course, went into the crockpot with water overnight and made up a broth for the next day’s soup. Chicken leg pieces don’t make quite the same robust broth as a whole chicken carcass, but they still get the job done.
I was able to cook all three parts to one dinner in a 375-degree oven the other night. Roasted frozen broccoli, boneless chicken pieces brushed with barbecue sauce, and brown rice. The rice went in first (it cooks for an hour), then the chicken (it cooked for 40 minutes), then the broccoli (which took 25 minutes).
What’s funny is the supreme satisfaction I felt in maximizing my oven use.
It took hardly any hands-on time, and the clean-up was a snap because I used parchment paper on the pans. I love parchment paper!
I’ve been trying to improvise some new fast dinners that rely on a protein I don’t have to (remember to) defrost first.
I bought canned shrimp and made this quick veggie-shrimp-pasta medley. I simply sautéed onion, pepper, and zucchini in butter, then tossed in the shrimp to warm it up and tossed that together with the pasta and another pat of butter.
It was a decent dinner, but I might try it with flash frozen shrimp next time.