I am super excited to be launching our next blog post series: Keeping Mealtimes Simple. Rachel and I are passionate about many things, but definitely topping the list is finding simple and economical ways to feed our families healthy and delicious meals. Keeping Mealtimes Simple will be an ongoing, monthly post series featuring our own family favorite recipes and mealtime tips, as well as great ideas and recipes from other bloggers.
Now, since the term "simple" is pretty subjective, we decided to ask our facebook "sisters" what keeping mealtimes simple means to them. Based on their feedback and our own experience we came up with the following guidelines for what constitutes a "simple" meal:
Hands-down this was the number one request from our facebook sisters: Keep the meal ideas to very little prep time. For that matter, this is probably the number one request of mothers worldwide. After all, whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, homeschooling mom, soccer mom, etc, one thing we all have in common is a shortage of time. Our hope is that this post series will help you to build a repertoire of low-prep meals that won't compromise taste or nutrition.
What's better than a quick and easy meal on a busy day? A no-prep meal! Also included in this post series will be meals that can be made ahead and quickly pulled out of the freezer or fridge when you need them.
Lastly, we'll be featuring meals that will help you utilize your slow cooker or Instant Pot. Now, I have to admit I do not have a large arsenal of slow cooker meals. I do have a few tried-and-true favorites, but my husband is not a huge fan of slow cooker meals, so most of my efforts have gone into looking for other ways to simplify my meals. (See numbers 1 & 2.)
Rachel will be posting most of the slow cooker recipes and we'll be featuring slow cooker recipes from around the web. I hope to get new recipes from you, our readers as well. Who knows? Maybe after 20 years, I can win my husband over with some of your amazing recipes!!
It's easy to make meal time simple with Hamburger Helper and frozen perogies. But that's not what we're after. We believe that with a little planning and inspiration, we can keep mealtimes simple without compromising taste and nutrition.
Okay, I think that about covers it. Are we ready for our first featured meal plan? It happens to be my favorite.
Main Dish Salad and Potato Bar
This probably isn't the earth-shattering, life-changing meal plan you were hoping for, but just give me a minute to build a case for salad and potatoes. Trust me. It just might actually be life-changing.
First of all, this meal plan hits all THREE of our guidelines for keeping mealtimes simple:
Here are a few more reasons why Main Dish Salad and Potato Bar is one of my favorite go-to meals. It's very economical depending on the toppings you choose. You can really stretch your meat by adding it to a salad. Instead of the 2-3 pieces of chicken that teenage boys think they need to eat, you can dice up 3-4 chicken breasts for the whole salad and no one is the wiser! Or how about taco salad? That can really help stretch your ground beef.
I love that salads are so versatile. It can be a simple, economical, use-up-all-the-wilty-produce kind of salad, or it can be something elegant enough to serve to company. (Think Cobb salad with chicken breast and blue cheese crumbles.) Believe it or not, this actually is one of my favorite hospitality meals.
Also, it's a meal the kids can make for you! Even kids who aren't quite old enough to handle a skillet or oven can assemble a salad. Still not convinced? Here's a little salad inspiration for you!
My absolute favorite salad to serve is a Ranch Chicken Salad. I use romaine lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, Perfect Chicken (see printable recipe below.), ranch dressing, croutons or any number of substitutions, depending on what I have on hand that day. I will assemble this the night before sometimes if I know I will be on the run the next day.
Okay, now that we are all completely convinced about the merits of a Main Dish Salad, let's talk for a moment about baked potatoes.
Baked potatoes are a very economical way of "beefing up" a Main Dish Salad, especially if you have a horde of teenage boys to feed or a husband who is a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. You can greatly economize this meal by the toppings you choose to offer. You can keep it cheap and simple with just butter and sour cream or make a more extravagant potato bar by adding bacon crumbles, chives, chili or steamed broccoli. We LOVE bacon on our potatoes, so I have a habit of keeping bacon crumbles in my freezer for quick and easy meal time.
An added bonus to serving baked potatoes is that leftover baked potatoes make the absolute BEST hashbrowns! If you serve Main Dish Salad and Potato Bar for company and accidentally bake too many potatoes, you can make an easy pancake and hash brown supper the next night. In fact, many times, I purposely bake extra potatoes just so we can have them for hash browns. You can also turn your baked potato bar into a freezer meal by making Twice-Baked potatoes! (Recipe coming soon.....)
If Main Dish Salad and Potato Bar is not already a part of your meal rotation, I hope I've convinced you to give it a try! Speaking of meal rotation, you might find some of our free meal planning resources helpful.
We love comments from our readers letting us know what they find helpful or inspiring on our blog. Leave a comment and let us know what you think about our new blog post series Keeping Mealtimes Simple, or share your favorite simple recipe with us!
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