Welcome to dinnertime at the Cooper house! Everyone’s hungry. I’m probably wrangling a wriggly baby while reminding the girls to a) wash up after soccer or tennis practice b) put their scattered belongings away c) finish any homework.
It’s chaos, to say the least.
I enjoy cooking. I just don’t enjoy cooking under duress. And after a full day of work and chauffeuring kids to school and extracurricular activities, I’m limited on mental capacity to spend in the kitchen. At the same time, I want our family to prepare and enjoy all sorts of different foods (including vegetables) around the table as often as we can.
Meal delivery services save the day – looking at you, Home Chef – but I keep a few simple meals on rotation to avoid turning to takeout during the week.
Now don’t expect culinary genius. But if you need inspiration for a low-maintenance dinner that your kids will actually eat, I’ve got you. Maybe one day I’ll add some photos to this post but for now check out my “Easy Eats” highlight on Instagram. Make your you save this post to reference the next time you meal plan, and don’t be afraid to put your own spin on these ideas. I’m known for making recipes on a wing and a prayer.
Sheet Pan Lemon Shrimp
If you know, you know. This family favorite is so yummy paired with risotto and a side of carrots that can cook alongside the shrimp.
- 1.5 lb. bag of shrimp (thawed if frozen)
- Packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning
- 4-8 tablespoons of butter
- 1-2 lemons
Add shrimp to a sheet pan. Sprinkle with ranch seasoning and pats of butter. Top with sliced lemons. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.
Crockpot Pork Loin
Serve this with my famous mashed potatoes – Bob Evans via the grocery store refrigerated section – and green beans.
- Pork loin
- 2 cups of BBQ sauce
- Spicy mustard
- Chili powder
Place meat in a crockpot and cover with BBQ sauce, a generous squirt of spicy mustard and chili powder to taste. Cook on low for 4 hours.
Crockpot Pork Roast
Super simple and delicious. Also great with Bob Evans mashed potatoes and canned peas or carrots.
- Pork roast
- Brown sugar
- Orange juice
Marinate the roast overnight in equal amounts of bourbon, brown sugar and orange juice. Brown the meat on both sides for about 5 minutes, then cook on low in the crockpot for 8 hours.
Crockpot Chicken Thighs
You can use chicken breasts, but thighs are our preference. Serve with rice and green vegetable of choice.
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- ½ cup honey
- Garlic clove
- 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Mix ketchup, soy sauce and honey in a crockpot. Add minced garlic and chicken thighs. Give one more stir and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies
Here’s an especially fresh, healthy option. We love the bourbon salmon from the seafood department at Publix.
- Salmon filets
- Vegetables of choice
- Olive oil
Place salmon on a foil-covered sheet pan with vegetables. I do asparagus sprinkled with olive oil and Greek seasoning and mushrooms and tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add asparagus about 8 minutes into bake time.
Quick Stir Fry
Hot tip: Crack a couple eggs to scramble in the middle of the fried rice. People will think you’re a professional.
- 1-2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Trader Joe’s vegetable fried rice
Slice chicken breasts and cook in avocado oil with a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add a bag of Trader Joe’s vegetable fried rice and cook according to package directions.
Crockpot Mississippi Roast
How to be a chef like me: Buy a packet of McCormick Mississippi Roast Seasoning Mix and follow the directions on the back. We usually serve over egg noodles.
Chicken and Rice Bowls
Top instant rice with shredded rotisserie chicken, canned beans, corn, tomato and avocado.
Soup and Sandwich Night
Don’t sleep on store-bought soup and a grilled cheese with bacon, ham or turkey and whatever preserves you have in the fridge (peach preserves are amazing).
From the Internet:
One Pot Stovetop Mac and Cheese – A meal everyone loves that includes zucchini and broccoli? Big win!
Sheet Pan Hot Honey Mustard Chicken and Crispy Brussels Sprouts – Zach said this was the best chicken dish I’ve ever made, and the girls devoured the leftovers! I omitted the cayenne pepper and subbed breadcrumbs for corn flakes since I didn’t have any on hand.
Slow Cooker Braised Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken Tacos – I usually serve the family tacos, and then make a bowl for myself with peppers, black beans, lettuce and tomato.
One Skillet White Chicken Chili Bake – Easily in my top ten favorite recipes to make. The spice level is perfect for us as is, but I half the amount of salsa verde for the girls.
Rinse and repeat!