Some of my best dinners, at least as far as the kids are concerned, aren’t really “recipes”. They’re quick to fix, fast food at home favorites. While you might not want to serve your family this sort of food on a regular basis, there are seasons when it’s okay. In fact, it might be necessary!
Your menu plan can include days, or even full weeks, of these sorts of foods. Listen to me – It’s okay! Menu planning to include these types of meals will still save you time and money. Home-made burgers with fries from the freezer are cheaper, and healthier, than the drive-through burger joint.
By planning ahead for unexpectedly busy days, you can avoid last minute trips out for fast food or pizza.
If you will keep just a few, simple ingredients in your pantry and freezer, it will be possible for you to make a delicious, but quick, dinner when the day gets away from you. Most of these ingredients will enable you to fix dinner from scratch in just a few minutes in the evening. Others will allow you to serve something a little more substantial by popping just a couple of things into the crockpot in the morning.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Grill burgers and pop some frozen french fries into the oven. Your kids will love you! If he’s anything like my Copper, your husband will love you, too! (Hamburger buns and frozen fries may not appear on our table weekly, but they are almost always found in my freezer for emergency dinners.)
Hot dogs & Chips. (I buy good quality, all beef hot dogs when they’re on sale and keep them in the freezer for when it’s been “one of those days”.)
Spaghetti and sauce made with browned ground beef and sauce from a jar. Serve with french bread from the grocery store bakery and a pre-packaged green salad. Fancy up the french bread, if you have time, with butter, garlic & onion salt and pop into a 400* oven open faced for a few minutes. (I buy a few jars or cans of sauce when it’s on sale and keep it in the pantry, and my grocery store makes an amazing loaf of whole wheat french bread that keeps well in the freezer.)
Pour bottled marinade over chicken breasts and/or thighs, and pop them in the oven. Better yet, pour the marinade over the frozen chicken pieces in a crockpot in the morning. Cook some noodles and toss a pre-packaged salad, and you’re done! (I usually have at least two varieties of bottled marinade in the pantry. They’re great for grilling when there’s time, but they’re even better to make a last minute dinner seem special.)
Bottled marinade or BBQ sauce poured over a frozen beef or pork roast in the morning will yield a tender, moist, wonderful main dish in the evening after cooking on low all day! Shred the meat with a couple of forks, serve on hamburger buns or rolls and heat up some canned or frozen vegetables.
As I said, you probably won’t want to feed your family this way all the time, but it’s a great way to avoid eating out when there are more important things happening in your life than cooking. Important things like the birth of a new grand baby, for example.
As I type this, I’ve just stocked my freezer and pantry with the warehouse store sized boxes of Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets and Cheerios, a big bag of frozen french fries, bananas, and extra loaves of whole wheat bread for toast and peanut butter sandwiches. One day this next week, and I don’t know which, six of my grandchildren will be hanging out with me while my seventh grand baby is born. Meals will be quick and easy, so that I can get to the hospital and snuggle up that beautiful new baby and enjoy the six that are staying with me. The meals will please my grandkids, too.
Menu planning is important, but your menus don’t always have to be gourmet meals with elaborate recipes. They don’t even have to include recipes at all!
Make meals on those busy days easy by keeping a few basic ingredients on hand for quick, guilt-free meals!
Planning ahead is a good way to look well to the ways of your household.