We have some easy meal ideas and tips to help because we all know
having kids leaves little time for preparation during the stressful
dinner hour! At dinnertime children are tired and hungry (and so are
you!)and the last thing you or they want to do is wait. How can you
cut down the stress and get dinner done faster and easier? I have
some easy meal ideas for you to get started making dinner time less
stressful. The key to easy meals is to be organized and have a plan.
Not sure how to do this?
Planned Kids Cooking Curriculum
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Preparing ahead of time is the key to easy meal ideas! Preparation
goes a long way with kids!
Start early! The less work during the stressful
dinnertime the better. To make dinnertime quicker, during the
day when they are busy playing, in school, during nap time or
anytime you have a few minutes, do your prep work.
For example, if making sweet and sour chicken cut meat into
cubes, cut up veggies and make sauce. Then put each in a
separate bowl and store in the fridge until dinner. Do this with
all your recipes. Look your recipe over and see what can be done
ahead of time. Many dishes can be assembled and then
refrigerated until dinner time. Even many side dishes can be
done ahead of time like salads.
Another option is prepare all your vegetables and meat
once a week after shopping. Do all your prep work once and
store the meat and vegetables in the freezer or fridge. Carrots
and celery can be cut into sticks and placed in a bowl of water.
Meat can be cut into cubes if needed and wrapped in tin foil or
a ziploc bag. Then placed in the freezer.
I find it is easier to save the harder, longer preparation
meals for weekends when I have more time and my husband is
here to help (whether in the kitchen or with the kids).
Shop once a week and have a menu planned out for each
night. This will save you from last minute shopping trips. When
you know what's for dinner each day your dinner preparation will
save you time and make for a quicker dinner.
After dinner is over and cleaned up think about the next
night. What needs to be taken out of the freezer, bought
at the store or prepared early the next day? A little
preparation goes a long way when it comes to incorporating easy
The crock pot can be a great easy meal idea. I just
love mine. I have a larger one that can cook a whole roast
chicken or double batch of soup and a smaller crock pot. Try at
least once a week to use your crock pot especially on your
Once a week have a chef's night off. Buy a rotisserie
chicken, frozen pizza (you can even make your own ahead of time
and freeze), visit the salad bar or eat out. These nights can be
a much needed break for the head chef and leaves you geared up
to cook again the next day.
Take advantage of the convenience items at the store
such as frozen chicken breasts, frozen vegetables, bagged
salads, cut up grilled chicken. Just double check they are
healthy convenience items not the meal in a box type that are
high in salt and fat.
Keep your kitchen organized and the cupboards well stocked.
If you want to get dinner done quick you need to have everything
on hand and know where to find everything in your kitchen. Don't
waste your time searching for your favorite saucepan or spatula.
stock in your kitchen?
Have a well stocked and
organized kitchen. Everything runs smoother if it is in
the right place and you have all ingredients on hand.
A weekly or monthly menu plan. A little preparation of
what is for dinner or even a simple list will help you be
prepared for what is for dinner each night. Think about it once
and then forget about planning for awhile.
Simplify your meals
don't spent 2 hours on one meal.
Keep a record of what
meals were a success.
Think about what's for dinner
the night before, what you need to un-thaw, prep and
get ready for the next day.
Even if you are extremely busy try to sit
down and eat together as a family every night.
Have fresh vegetables and
fruits on hand for healthy side dishes, salads or fruit
Organize your recipes.
Make a 3 ring binder or recipe cards of at least 14 of your
families favorite meals. This will be a great starting point for
easy meal planning.
One of my favorite easy meal ideas is to prepare
your meat and vegetables for the week after you grocery
shop. Some vegetables you can't prep ahead but celery and
carrots can be cut into sticks or chopped and placed in water.
Just drain off water or take out what you need when you are
ready. Lettuce can be washed, spun dry, wrapped in paper towels
and placed in a ziploc baggie. Cut meat in chunks or strips
whatever you will need for the week. You can also marinade meat,
place in baggies and freeze.
Make teaching easier with our activities and recipes compiled in one easy to read format.
Easy Meal Ideas and Tips
These tips came from the Betty Crocker 2007 calendar which is no
longer available online.
Eliminate cleanup by using tin foil packets to grill your
Use individually frozen chicken breasts, pork chops or fish
fillets from the freezer section. When ready to cook remove the
number you need.
Don't rinse your pasta after cooking as sauces will cling
Cube leftover chicken, turkey, ham or beef and freeze in 1 cup
amounts. Use them to toss into salads, soups or casseroles.
If you make chili the day before and let the flavors mix it
will taste better.
Bake meat loaf in mini loaves and it will bake faster.
Serve dinner buffet style from the slow cooker.
Make a double batch of casseroles or cookies and store in the
freezer until you need a quick meal.
When checking out at the grocery store bag perishables and
non-perishables separately to make unloading easier.
Cook one dish meals where everything cooks in one skillet or
Easy Meal Ideas and Recipes
Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
1/4 Cup of honey
1/4 Cup of Dijon style mustard
1 tsp dried basil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Combine honey and mustard in a baking casserole dish. Stir in basil.
Coat chicken breasts in sauce on both sides. Cover with foil and
bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until chicken is well done.
1/2 Cup stuffing mix, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 frozen fish portions
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile. Spray or lightly grease 13x9
casserole dish. Add stuffing to a shallow bowl. Stir in melted
butter and combine. Coat both sides of fish stuffing crumbs. Lay
fish in casserole dish. Drizzle with lemon juice. Place the
remaining stuffing over the top of the fish. Bake in oven for 18-20
minutes until fish flakes with fork.
4 boneless chicken breast
1/4 Cup Barbecue sauce
4 slices bacon
1 Cup Monterey jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
In a casserole dish place chicken breasts. Brush chicken with
barbecue sauce, add cheese and allow to melt. Place a cooked bacon
I've also cooked the chicken on a George Foremon grill and it has
turned out even better.
Chili Mac Supper
1 Cup of uncooked
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 (11.25 oz.) can chili beef soup
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 Cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile ground beef and stir
in chili powder. Drain and add into soup pot. Stir in tomatoes,
chili beef soup and cooked macaroni. Warm and serve each bowl of
chili mac with cheddar cheese.