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!
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?