Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! Wow! I can’t believe that this time next week will be September! The month of August is always an adjustment back to reality. I feel like we are getting our feet under us now, and September means I can start burning my fall candles, so I’m looking forward to that!

I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is:

I love to cook, but I’m all about an easy dinner especially during the week.

1. Easiest dinner you make and the recipe:

The first thing that popped in my mind was the baked chicken recipe that I make at least once a month. It’s quick and can easily be paired with the microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes or a bagged salad. There are usually eight chicken thighs in a pack which used to be enough to guarantee leftovers for dinner, but now that the kids eat more (and they love this meal!), I sometimes make two packs of chicken to have leftovers or even some for lunch.

In general, anything in the Crockpot is a lifesaver too…

2. Crockpot? Instapot? Both?

Well, I have both. I asked for (and received) an Instapot a couple of years ago for Christmas. While it is handy, and I’ve made some delicious meals, I can honestly say that I hardly turn to it for a recipe and instead rely on my Crockpot. I think I will give the Instapot one more winter, and then if I don’t use it much, I may donate it.

The Crockpot, on the other hand, I literally can’t live without. I used it to make two meals this week!

3. Are you a member of a wholesale club and fave items?

We are not a member of a wholesale club. When the kids were babies, we belonged to Sam’s Club for a couple of years. It was a handy place to pick up diapers and formula…and so many other things. I understand why people go, and I know there are so many great finds at Costco and Sam’s Club, but we don’t live close to either, and I don’t really have storage space for bulk items.

4. Do you meal prep or menu plan? Do you follow any set themes?

I always meal plan, and I sometimes meal prep. I have a calendar on our fridge, and I write down our evening activities and go from there. If there’s an evening full of activities, that’s the time I use my Crockpot, for example. I know some people do Taco Tuesday and other themes, but I don’t necessarily do that.

A perfect week would be that I make something Sunday that has leftovers for Monday. Then, Tuesday, I might make tacos or have pork loin (we love the ones you make in the bag) or fish (salmon from the fish counter that you cook in the bag) and make an easy side. Then, Wednesday would probably be some kind of pasta, casserole, or soup that provide leftovers for Thursday.

Or, Thursday often ends up being soup and grilled cheese or breakfast for dinner. Hayden (finally) mastered the grilled cheese this summer, and that’s been a game changer having him make a sandwich or two when he’s hungry.

As far as meal prep, on Sunday, I will prep a few lunches and even go ahead and put my grapes and chips in baggies, so that they are easy to pack in my lunches.

5. Best dinner tips for busy nights?

Kind of like I said above, meal planning and planning for leftovers are key for me. Again, using the Crockpot is another tip. Finally, I also make sure I have easy sides like Bob Evans potatoes, bagged salad, Bisquick or Sister Schubert rolls, and I use the Air Fryer for tater tots or sweet potato fries. Fruit is an easy, healthy side, and I make fresh green beans often (blanch in water for a few minutes, drain, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with S&P and serve! This is my kids’ fave side dish besides the BE potatoes.)

Here’s a post I wrote about a year ago with some “Quick Family Dinners”:

6. Do you use certain ingredients more in the fall?

My favorite fall recipe is Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta, and my family loves it.

That being said, I don’t think I really use certain ingredients more, but I lean into making chili, soups, and casseroles once the weather cools off.

7. Any back to school dinner traditions?

I’ve written many posts about back to school. When the kids were in elementary, our tradition was a cute Back to School breakfast.

For two years now, we’ve done a Back to School Brinner instead, and I love this new tradition.

8. Do you own an air fryer?

YES! We’ve had our air fryer now for almost two years, and we love it. We most often use it to cook frozen items like chicken tenders, fries, etc., but I’ve also used it for veggies, chicken and more.

9. Favorite grab and go items? Homemade or store bought?

My go to “grab and go” would be when we need dinner in a hurry, and I pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and then just serve with the BE potatoes or microwave baked potato.

The Fresh Market in town has a chicken, two sides, and cornbread muffins for $10-$12, and we get that deal pretty often too!

10. How many nights a week do you cook?

I cook (or we have leftovers) Sunday-Thursday. Usually the weekend nights are one night carry out and one night eat out.

That being said, we’ve had discussions about how “backwards” it kind of is to eat out/carry out when we have more time on the weekend. Maybe I should cook at least one of those days and save a carry out meal for a random Wednesday night! I guess it’s just the routine of it, and I do like being less structured on the weekend. During the week, when dinner is ready, you better be in the kitchen ASAP or I start getting grumpy. Just ask my kids!

Also, I should add that Travis can and will cook too! I just usually get home sooner, and I do the grocery list, so I tend to cook. He’s our grill master, that’s for sure!

What are some of your favorite fall meals?

14 thoughts on “Monthly Musings

  1. I’m still not in a dinner routine. It was just Tom and I for the first time last night and we both just fended for ourselves. I was out of everything and I did a fun activity after school. I have a grocery pick up today but it’s already Thursday so I’m not sure what I will make tonight! I agree about sometimes thinking I should really lean into cooking on Saturday or Sunday or both and then make Monday easy. I think my best tip is to get home from the grocery and make a list of all the potential meals you could have from what you just bought. Then, see which sounds the best on any given night. I tend to really forget what I bought and what it was intended for!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely going to try that baked chicken and sub gluten free breadcrumbs. I may look into the pumpkin pasta too. This is such a Good post and I am so glad you joined us this month, and every month Jen!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. What is the pork tenderloin and salmon cooked in a bag? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that, is it sous vide?
    I agree it seems backward to go out or order on weekends when you actually have more time. But we do it too ๐Ÿ™‚ something about a treat on the weekends when you can let all responsibilities go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smithfield (but Iโ€™ve seen other brands) is the pork loin in a bag. You just keep it in the wrapper and put it in baking dish and cook for about 45 minutes. They have many different flavors. Then, our grocery (Kroger) has at the fish counter you pick your fish and they put them in baking bags with any spices and seasonings you want ๐Ÿ™‚ easy clean up !


  4. We definitely find that fall leads to more casseroles, soups, and stew meals too. I use my crock pot a lot but have never had a desire to try the instapot at all. We do a grocery pick up at our local BJ’s store once a month but we do have tons of storage space and I love knowing that I don’t have to buy everything every week at the store. It’s hard enough to cut it down to 1 or 2 carriages a week as it is! LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

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