There’s something about Spring that sends moms like me into panic mode. Maybe it’s scrambling to set up summer plans so my kids aren’t at each other’s throats on a daily basis, or it’s because of the crazy sports schedule (these rain make up baseball and soccer sessions are slowly killing me), or it’s the fact that there are about one million school related tasks to complete (don’t even get me started on the crazy requirements for Teacher Appreciation Week) before the final bell rings.
So if you are like me and trying to keep your head above water, this article is FOR YOU. Why? Because it lists my hacks for busy weeknight dinners that will keep your kids fed while you stay sane. We can do this, mamas. Only about one month left!
This list won’t provide you with a weekly meal plan (sorry but I’m simply NOT organized enough for that). Instead, it lists tons of different ways to approach busy weeknight dinners when your family is forced to eat at different times and you have only a small amount of time to prep before you are back to your full time job as an Uber driver.
Utilize Your Slow Cooker
While I might have stopped using my slow cooker for about three months after watching “This Is Us,” I am now back at it, especially since my boys have an activity almost every night of the week this Spring. I only make EASY slow cooker meals that consist of minimal prep work and have found that my family loves THREE main standbys: Copycat Portillo’s Italian Beef, Salsa Chicken, and Pulled Pork. These recipes require minimal chopping and mostly just dumping ingredients into the slow cooker, pressing start, and then going on with my day. Even better? All three of these dishes heat up very well for leftovers the next day.
Stock Up on Frozen Food
I follow a ton of food bloggers on social media and I’m sure that they would stick their nose up at my love of Trader Joe’s frozen food, but it’s much healthier and more economical than hitting up the drive thru on the way to or from practice. I am consistently impressed with the wide variety of options that you can find in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s, and I also love that it doesn’t take long to turn the frigid ingredients into a heartwarming meal.
My favorites? Anything in their Asian section (Jasmine rice, cauliflower rice, beef and broccoli, shrimp tempura) and their delicious Italian dishes (pasta, pasta, and MORE delicious pasta). Grab a bag of premade salad to serve alongside and you have a healthy meal.
Check Out Pre-made Options
I love store bought rotisserie chickens. So much so that I wrote an article all about how I use them in family friendly recipes. So when you are pressed for time, head to your local grocery store (Costco has the best rotisserie chickens, by the way) and grab a chicken as well as some pre-made sides. It only takes minutes to put together a salad from the fresh veggie bar or to grab pre-made pasta salads and other side dishes to pull your meal together.
Celebrate the Sheet Pan
Prefer homemade meals? Then in addition to your slow cooker, invest in a variety of different sheet pan sizes, as well as some heavy duty aluminum foil and nonstick spray. That way you can make sheet pan meals, which are quick to prepare and even faster to clean up. My family’s favorite sheet pan recipes? Citrus chicken and my sausage and pepper dish.
When In Doubt, Put Out a Platter
Lastly, don’t forget about the power of a platter. Yes, you might think it is a cop out to cooking a traditional dinner, but your kids will love it. Just make sure you can take it in and out of your fridge on those busy nights when your family eats in shifts. A DIY sandwich platter is easy to set up, and so is simply cleaning out your fridge and putting a wide assortment of food on the platter. Cheese, meat, fruits, veggies, dips…the options are endless!
Here’s to the light at the end of the busy Spring tunnel!
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