Obviously you can and should adapt these recipes to what your family will actually eat and generally prefers. I have a heavy emphasis on crockpot and casserole type dishes this month because I want to teach you how many different types of food can actually be made successfully these ways and any casserole (almost) is a great recipe to double up and freeze one of. Also, if you have a family with smaller kids or a dinner with fewer eaters…you can half a single casserole.
When we make Mexican or regular lasagna I generally cut half of it out into single serving portions, wrap those in tinfoil and freeze them, three to a pack in gallon freezer bags. They become the perfect heat up and eat dinner for late nights at the office, those times when everyone is eating at a different time or when you find that you are the only one home. These onsies-twosies servings are also good for “fend for yourself” night. (Just be sure to label the ziplock and put the date – tip…write it on an index card, with the reheating instructions and tuck that in the ziplock…save those cards for the next batch)
The way to make this easiest is to make a few rules that work for you. I created Taco Tuesday because everyone in my house will eat some iteration of tacos, the prep isn’t complicated and you have ammunition for the “but I wanna eat [something else] argument since everyone knows it’s Taco Tuesday or Pizza Thursday or Pasta Friday…whatever works for you and your family.
- Sunday/Rotating – Sit Down Meal
- Tuesday/Taco Tuesday
Here’s the list of April Meals with some ideas and explanations. For those of you who use Pinterest I have made a board for April 2014 with many of the recipes. I have also linked most of the recipes for the menu items listed below, just click on the name.
1. Taco Tuesday – Taco Bar (let the whole family build their own dinner) ground beef
2. Grilled Cheese w/Crudite and fries – think outside the box – make plan old cheddar melts if that’s all you have time for but adding some sandwich meats, other cheeses and condiments in you grilled cheese makes it even more of a meal…and still very easy.
3. Chicken Alfredo Pizza – Toss together an easy salad while the pizza is baking.
4. Spaghetti & Meatballs with salad and garlic cheese bread (Buy a crusty sourdough loaf at the market, slice it in half, melt butter, add garlic salt and parmesan cheese and pour it along the two halves. Bake on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil or parchment paper for 10-12 minutes. Easy, yummy. Add a passable plate with crudités and ranch dip to the table and call it good.
5. Chicken Enchiladas (double the recipe, freeze one for later) Also crockpot the Carnitas for Tuesday’s dinner – divvy it up into two meals’ worth and bag and freeze separately. Saturday’s are busy, these two kitchen projects won’t take you more than an hour and will get you set for tonight and for Tuesday.
6. Foolproof Dry Rubbed Oven Ribs w/Rice Pilaf and potato salad. This is an all day cooking meal…the smell of it should get everyone excited for dinner and encourage even your tweens and teens to come to the table on time.
7. Chicken with Tomatoes and Artichokes. This recipe is so easy and so good. Serve with your family’s favorite side dish – rice or pasta, keep it simple.
8. Taco Tuesday – Carnitas (the meat you cooked and froze on Saturday)
9. Quick Skillet Chicken & Macaroni Parmesan with salad. Easy but you will feel like you actually cooked dinner.
10. Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli w/rice and pot stickers. The beef will cook all day. Stick the rice cooker on and toss in frozen broccoli when you get home. Dinner will be ready before the kids are even done with their homework.
11. Sloppy Toms (sloppy joes made with ground turkey, cook double the turkey, set half aside before adding sloppy joe sauce, freeze for Taco Tuesday) serve with steamed veggies.
12. Leftovers, takeout or a freezer meal – use up what’s left over from the week, pull something out of the freezer or order from your favorite takeout place.
13. Meatlove (my four year old’s name for meatloaf) with Mashed Potatoes (make two, freeze one). Comfort food, easy and so delicious. This is a nice way to slow things down and treat yourself as well as the family.
14. Sriracha Chicken w/Four Cheese Ricearoni (shred leftover chicken for Wednesday’s pizza) This isn’t as spicy as it sounds…but it can be. It’s slightly sweet. Don’t let the large number of ingredients stop you with this recipe. You only need two measuring spoons and it takes longer to take the jars out of the fridge and pantry than to get it set up and crocking.
15. Taco Tuesday – Chicken (use last night’s chicken)
16. Ravioli with your family’s favorite sauce (use packaged ones – fresh, frozen, whatever you like, this one is easy, just be sure there is meat in the sauce or the pasta.) Add a salad or fresh veggies to the table as well.
17. World’s Easiest Pulled Pork Sandwiches (make great leftovers, too).
18. Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup/Leftovers
19. Mexican Lasagna (double the taco meat and freeze half for Tuesday’s taco bar)
20. Slow Cooker Coq au Vin (easy and delicious)
21. Easter – follow your own family’s traditions or menus
22. Taco Tuesday (use taco meat made on Friday)
23. Tomato Mac & Cheese with salad – this is so yummy and so easy and not as runny as boxed mac.
24. Three Packet Roast Beef with mashed potatoes. Use instant mashed potatoes or make your own, follow whatever works for you and your family. We love the instant mashed potatoes from Costco that have pretty much only “real” ingredients.
25. Baked Pasta with Spinach & Sausage
26. Chicken Quesadillas – leave the chicken off of the picky eater’s quesadilla, add black beans to the ones who like them. Bake them on a cookie sheet instead of making them on the stove and get them all done at once.
27. BBQ! Or Hickory Smoked Slow Cooker Brisket
28. Easy Bake Honey Mustard Chicken. Serve with garlic roasted red potatoes.
29. Taco Tuesday – ground beef or turkey
30. Broccoli Cheese Soup or Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. Use canned soup, soup from the deli or make your own (see the recipe) – whatever works for you and your family.
My goal here isn’t to tell you what you SHOULD be eating or shouldn’t be eating. I am just sharing the tips and hints that I have learned that work for my family and I think might help all of you find a little more peace of mind when trying to get dinner on the table in the midst of everything else going on in your days.