How I Handle the Stress of Dinnertime (+ Some of My Go-To Meal Ideas)

One of my biggest stressors in LIFE is what in the world I’m going to make my family for dinner. (Don’t even get me started on kid lunches…let’s leave that heart attack for another day!)

I could be driving in the car, at work, in a meeting, and all the while I’m wracking my brain as to what in the world I’m going to make these hungry villagers. Yes, this task sounds simple but when you take four people with 750 different likes and dislikes….it’s a tall order, to say the least! I must admit, some days I give in to the pressures of my schedule and call the takeout gods, but I prefer to stick to cooking since we like to keep our meals healthy.

I would like to share with you how I generally make this happen and would greatly appreciate if you would leave some of your helpful tips in the comment section.

First and foremost, none of this would be possible without my very best friend THE SLOW COOKER. Someone gave it to me as a wedding gift and it was truly the best purchase of all time. (If you don’t have one, you can get one pretty inexpensively at Target; no need to go fancy!) I prep everything the night before, throw it all in the next morning and boom….dinner! My girls are incredibly picky; so for them I tend to stick to a solid rotation of pasta, chicken, shrimp, and turkey meatballs. (Of course, the 4-year-old reserves the right to say no to all of these at any given moment without notice and request a not-so-wholesome grilled cheese instead.)

The husband and I tend to be a little more adventurous…here is what an average week may look like:

Sunday: Stuffed Peppers

I almost always go to the market on Monday mornings so the fridge is nearly empty on Sunday. So for this reason alone, we either go out for dinner or order in. This past Sunday, we actually had some family over for dinner and I made these insanely delicious stuffed peppers so I just had to include them in my recipe finds for you! I omitted the refried beans and added ground turkey because I had some in the fridge that I needed to use— beyond yummy!

Monday: Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

This recipe is everything. So easy. So delicious — even the kids eat it! You can serve with pasta or eat them solo with some steamed veggies (or zoodles!) and a dollop of ricotta cheese. I double the recipe because they are that good you will want to eat them for lunch the next day. Save time by making the meatballs the night before; roll them out on a cookie sheet and keep in the refrigerator overnight. Then throw everything in the next morning. Easy peasy.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

This chicken, you guys. Wow. So simple yet so flavorful. A friend told me about it and I’m pretty amazed at how so few ingredients can make something taste this delicious. This is another throw everything in the night before and turn it on the next morning kind of situation. Get ready for your mind to be blown. This is another one of those dinners that I can get the girls to eat, so it’s a major success in my eyes.

Wednesday: Turkey Chili

No matter what the weather is, I love having chili. It’s super versatile, and as long as I don’t make it too spicy I can get the girls to at least try it. This chili recipe by my wonderful and talented friend Laney Schwartz of Life is But A Dish is so good and easy! I normally swap the chicken for ground turkey because I prefer that in my chili but you do you!

Thursday: Leftovers

My idea train slows down big time by the time Thursday rolls around so we generally eat the leftovers that are in the fridge. I always have salad making stuff on stand-by so I will pair whatever meal we decide on with a big salad to round it out.

Friday: Salsa Verde Tacos

Friday is always Mexican Food night. I don’t know what it is about Fridays but they generally require a margarita, chips, and guacamole. (I’ve also been known to make nachos with Wednesday night’s chili on top.) This meal is so easy it’s kind of embarrassing. Grab some raw chicken breasts, sprinkle with cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper…then cover it with your favorite jarred green salsa. Cook on high for 3 hours and then shred with forks. Serve with taco fixings and be prepared for rock star status.

Saturday: Takeout

Date night or if there is no babysitter in sight we get takeout. It’s Saturday night… I am off duty.

More Mom Confessions:

Photo: Marla Sokoloff


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