Welcome to our newest series. In “Friday Favorites,” our team will share a handful of favorite items. These can range from clothes to beauty products to recipes to books and anything in between.
To say these are uncertain times is an immense understatement. All the Oregon Trail jokes aside, the “expedition” to the grocery store can add even more anxiety to your already anxious mood. Even if you have intel from your neighborhood Facebook group about local grocery deliveries, it’s never certain that you’ll get a coveted pack of chicken or a pound of ground beef.
Here are some recipes that can extend your supplies and utilize what you already have sitting in your pantry for some easy meals. Because the last thing you want to answer all day, every day is “What’s for dinner?”
If you’ve got this in the pantry, I highly recommend making an easy chicken pot pie.
Not only does it use frozen veggies, but you don’t even have to make it with chicken. Use some of those tuna cans you’ve been stockpiling! Just remember to use cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken. I always make this in an 8 x 8 Pyrex casserole dish, so if you don’t have a pie plate, no worries.
Bonus meal: Everyone loves breakfast for dinner! It’s an easy meal to make; the littles think it’s a huge treat; it’s a good choice when you need to feed a crowd (or hungry teens!). Make it savory, make it sweet. Let the kids help. Always a good backup when you’re staring down an almost empty pantry.
You’ve probably got boxes of pasta and hopefully some cheese in the fridge. Growing up, my mom always made ham, macaroni and cheese and like any good Virginian, I make it for my kids now, too. On a weeknight I use a ham steak or packaged diced ham, but it’s also a great use for leftover holiday ham. If you’re not feeling the ham, jazz it up with Mexican cheese and ground beef. Add hot dogs or bacon. Throw in broccoli and really feel like Mom of the Year – how easy is that?
Bonus meal: We tried this alternative twist the other night and it was declared “Yummy” by my non-cheese loving 7 year old: a cheesy taco pasta. This dish used the salsa that I had in the fridge, the ground beef that we scored at the store last week, and just a little bit of my cheese cache from the fridge. You can even make your own taco seasoning if you’re running low on the prepackaged kind.
While we’re talking pasta, making a variation of spaghetti and meatballs always pleases my kids. Make it vegetarian or use any meat that you were lucky enough to find at the store – ground beef, Italian sausage, meatballs, ground turkey or ground chicken. Throw in some spinach – either frozen or fresh will do – for some extra vitamins. If you’ve got ricotta or cottage cheese, you can amp up the creamy, cheesy factor too. I love this no-boil pasta bake recipe because it always feeds my crew for two nights. Plus, I use frozen meatballs so it’s super easy!
Bonus meal: If you’ve got leftover sauce and cheese, you can have the kids make little pizzas for lunch the next day. We used some leftover flour tortillas, spaghetti sauce, and cheese to make these for lunch the other day. Just be careful not to let them cook too long or your kids will be eating a giant Italian nacho rather than a cute DIY pizza!
Like most humans, I love my slow cooker. It makes easy meals year-round. Some recipes are a little lackluster, though. If you can find a chuck roast or even a rump roast, you can make a crowd pleasing, minimal ingredient pot roast. This recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker is one of my family’s favorites. It can be served alone with a side or pantry-staple rice or mashed potatoes and veggies.
Bonus meal: Keep enjoying this easy dinner on the second day as French dip sandwiches or use leftovers as filler for burritos or quesadillas.
My kids will eat literally any type of Mexican food. Having just moved from Japan, they’re also huge rice fans. Set up a “make your own” burrito bowl buffet for lunch or dinner and clean out the pantry at the same time. You can use any type of meat with taco seasoning or go meatless with rice, canned corn, beans, salsa, etc. Take some of the pressure off yourself and let everyone create their own bowl. Burrito bowls make such easy meals!
Bonus meal: If you’ve found a pork butt in your grocery’s meat case, do yourself a favor and try these slow cooker carnitas. They’d be a great addition to any Mexican dish. I definitely recommend doubling all the spices (except the cinnamon) and cutting the meat into four large chunks prior to letting it cook low and slow for 10 hours. Your house will smell amazing!