I’m a meal planner. After all, is there any other way to feed a family of four that’s going in different directions every day, leaving me with little time to make dinner? I also hate to waste food. With both attributes in mind, I offer you this menu that will take your busy household from Sunday to Saturday with more home-cooked meals, less time in the kitchen, and likely less waste too. Scroll all the way down for a shopping list.
If you want a quick-cooking, flavorful, comforting dish with great nutrition, and which both makes a huge batch and is just as good (if not better) the next day, you may feel like you’re looking for a unicorn. You’re not. You’re looking for this fresh-as-anything dal.
I’m not known to be much of a fan of leftovers (my husband doesn’t mind taking them to work the next day for lunch, so I’m usually off the hook). However, I don’t like wasting food, so many times I will “refashion” leftovers into something that seems more like a new dish than just a reheat-and-eat situation. Even though I am pretty diligent about making quick use of leftovers that are hanging out in my fridge, sometimes something gets pushed to the back and when I finally find it, it’s a little “iffy” food safety-wise. That leads me to the first rule of leftover food safety: when in doubt, throw it out.
This recipe is easy to scale up or down for a crowd, and since it’s designed to take advantage of pantry staples like pasta and sauce, it’s the perfect recipe for dinner in a pinch.
Instead of planning every weeknight meal, it works well for my family to grocery shop for three dinners and make them when we have the time. We also keep other key ingredients stocked, which allow us to quickly put together a balanced meal on busy nights. Here is an example from Cooking Light:
The Food Marketing Institute promotes September as Family Meals Month and uses it to remind us of the importance of gathering family around the table to connect, chat and enjoy a nutritious meal. But, let’s be honest, September is also all about busy evenings, trying to grasp a new, demanding school schedule, and realizing that you only thought you were done back-to-school shopping. So how can we manage all that and still get dinner on the table every night? It starts with choosing a protein that will carry you through for a few meals. It ends with you not cooking every day.
Chili is a fantastic, inexpensive dinner to feed a big family, or a small family for a couple of meals. It reheats wonderfully for leftovers. This recipe, made for a slow cooker, couldn’t make dinner any easier if it tried.
Don’t get stuck thinking inside the lunchbox! Sandwiches and salads are great, but they’re not always the best solution for getting young, easily distracted lunchers eating an energizing meal. Use these idea to mix up the midday meal routine to deliver well-balanced meals that kids will devour.