Simple Pantry Cooking

Easy Menu Planning | cooking uncomplicated

What we’re eating this week

simple easy homemade family menu plan

Summer is on the way with warmer weather, so it’s time to put away the crockpot and soup plans and dust off my cooler menu options. Soups are so easy that it’s always a little sad, but grilling season and the fresh garden veggies will compensate.


I use Google calendar for menu planning, and that makes it easy to adjust the menu as summer plans flex and change.

Breakfasts This Week

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays: German pancakes
  • Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays: simple homemade granola with homemade yogurt
  • Saturday: Daddy-made pancakes
  • Sunday: whole wheat cinnamon rolls (made on Saturday)

Lunches This Week

  • Monday: pbj, apples
  • Tuesday: cheesy potato steak fries
  • Wednesday: flatbread made Saturday, pb-yogurt-honey dip, apple & celery
  • Thursday: rice with carrots & peas, topped with butter or cheese
  • Friday: microwave nachos with refried beans

Dinners This Week

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Pulling together food for a family

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

round button chicken

Another week and more food has been served to the natives, keeping them happy and healthy and strong. Mission: accomplished.

vegetable breakfast


~Pretty Veggie-Filled Breakfasts ~

Vegetables at breakfast seems to be a good idea, a way to get more nutrition into my day and start the day off strong. Here are a few of my attempts thus far.



homemade cookies

~ Happy Children Bakers ~

What better summer break afternoon activity than making chocolate chip cookies? They followed the recipe for Mystie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies straight from the blog post and did it all completely themselves while I was up in my room folding laundry.




~ Funny Approach ~

I make skillet chicken (included in Simplified Dinners) often. I was making it this week and couldn’t decide what kind of sauce to mix together and even mixing a sauce at all seemed like too much for that evening.

So I tossed in a block of cream cheese.

It was a good choice.



~ Real Kitchen ~

It turns out that making food makes a mess. Monday I made granola and yogurt, the kids made chocolate chip cookies, and there was breakfast and lunch and dinner as well.

I’m so thankful my husband does all the dishes after dinner! I washed the counters and swept the floor and we were still able to end the day in decent order. Whew.

Homemade food, week after week

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

round button chicken

Another week, another 21 meals prepared, served, and cleaned up. Not too shabby when you look at a week that way, now, is it?



~Pretty Pleased ~

These are my kitchen helpers, growing up fast, and now pleased to be the ones in charge of dinner some days.

With Simplified Dinners for New Cooks, they can get dinner on the table all by themselves, start to finish, and everyone is pleased, indeed!



bone broth

~ Happy Bones ~

In November I bought 3 turkeys when they were super cheap. I finally cooked the last one last week and so bone broth has been constantly simmering. I simply put the bones in the crockpot and cook it on low overnight or all day long, and have found that a turkey carcass can make excellent broth for 4 or more batches!

Homemade bone broth is like homegrown vine-ripened tomatoes, whereas canned or boxed broth is the equivalent of winter hydroponic tomatoes picked green and sent to sit on the grocery shelves too soon. The difference in flavor between the two types is so stark it makes you wonder if they should really be called by the same name.



~ Funny Beverage ~

It’s kinda crazy, but my afternoon refreshment drink is a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar “with the mother” in ice water.

Knocks out viruses and, chugged down quickly, seems to clear out my head of brain-fog rather nicely.


~ Real Self-Help ~

homemade yogurt

It’s granola season! I have my super-simple homemade granola recipe, and I also make our yogurt. We go through 24-32 ounces of yogurt each morning, and that gets pricey with the store-bought stuff! Plus, I read that homemade yogurt has more probiotics anyway. Sometime I’ll post my process.

homemade yogurt

But for now, I thought I’d share what happens when you let the young ones get their own food. It fosters independence – and more messes. But more messes means more practice cleaning up after themselves.

So, someday they’ll be able to clean up after themselves without prompting, right? Please tell me I’m right. Someday.

homemade yogurt

Follow me on Instagram to see more pictures of our normal family food life!

Real Family Dinners

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

round button chicken

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. 

family meals


~Pretty Fresh Vegetables ~

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.


family dinner

~ Happy Simplicity ~

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.


eating together

~ Funny Efficiency ~

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!


family dinnerfamily dinner

~ Real Quick ~

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.

What have you cooked up to feed your family lately?

A hot, filling breakfast recipe: Oven Puffed Pancakes

The quest for a simple breakfast that is filling enough to keep the kids satisfied until lunch is an endless one. Oatmeal is a good stick-to-the-ribs breakfast, but eggs are also so healthy for little growing bodies and brains.

Scrambled eggs are good, but my kids need some additional carb to go alongside it.

What I needed was an all-in-one breakfast that had both protein and carbs, but that didn’t make much mess on the counter and didn’t get too many dishes dirty.

I found the answer in German pancakes, also known as Oven Pancakes and Dutch Babies.

While it does make more dirty dishes than oatmeal, it is easier to clean up and kids don’t drop and slop it all over the counter, floor, and table. Totally worth the 20 minute baking time in my book.

Here’s how I’ve streamlined the process to get breakfast on the table quickly.

Streamlined German Oven Pancakes

  1. Turn the oven on to 400*. Pop in a 9×13 pan with two tablespoons of butter. It will preheat and melt the butter, greasing the pan and getting ready to make that pancake puff.
  2. Pull out milk, 6 eggs, and flour. I whisk this together in a batter bowl that has the measurements marked along the side so I don’t have to get a measuring cup dirty. First pour in one cup of milk, then crack in the six eggs, then dump in 1 cup of flour. I’ve used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour or I’ve also used all whole wheat when I have soft white wheat (also known as pastry whole wheat flour). It doesn’t quite fluff up as much with whole wheat, but the extra nutrition makes it worth it.
  3. Whisk vigorously until the batter is well beaten. Let it sit until the oven is done preheating.
  4. Pull the hot pan out of the oven and shake the melted butter to evenly cover the bottom. Pour in the batter quickly then pop it back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar over the top.

German pancakes – oven pancakes, dutch babies, or whatever else you want to call them – are also great baked with thinly sliced apples on the batter or topped with fresh berries.

After a satisfying breakfast, the kids are ready to tackle their day with plenty of energy and attention.