When David and I were first married, I had very little experience with cooking. I mean very, very little. When I still lived at home with my parents, I cooked some but definitely not very much. After we were married, my go-to recipe was spaghetti because it was easy and we both liked it. Tired and needed an easy meal? Spaghetti. Company coming over? Spaghetti. A romantic meal for two? Yeah. Spaghetti again. :) I did expand my menu repertoire over the years (thankfully!) and as you might imagine, we really don’t eat spaghetti that often anymore. David has been a very willing guinea pig too, which I really appreciate. I have had a few flops but most things have actually turned out pretty to be pretty good.
If you need some help in planning meals for your family either due to lack of experience or feel like you just don’t have time, here are some things that have helped me quite a bit over the years.
1. Don’t make it difficult.
Your meals don’t have to be fancy and elaborate to be good and healthy. There is a time and a place for that but if you are tired after a long day of work or homeschooling or you’re just starting out, go with an easy recipe. Even now, nearly 17 years after our wedding day, a lot of my recipes don’t have much more than five ingredients or so. And you know what? I have gotten more compliments on those recipes than on more elaborate ones!
Here’s an easy, easy recipe for you:
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
(I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I don’t often measure anything in my recipes so the following is kind of an estimate. You can vary it depending on the amount of people you are serving.)
1 pound of carrots, cut up (Use baby carrots to make it super easy, and you don’t even have to cut them up!)
3 pounds (or so) of potatoes, cubed
3-5 pounds of raw chicken breasts, cut up
1-2 packets of ranch dressing mix OR 2-4 tablespoons of homemade ranch dressing mix
1 stick of butter, cut up
Toss everything together and put it in your Crock Pot on low for 6-8 hours.
2. Use your Crock Pot
Several years ago when I first started working from home, my older two kids were pretty young and I was working from 2p.m. until about 8 p.m. every weeknight. I used my Crock Pot ALL the time! It was a lifesaver for me. Now, you do have to do some planning, but dinner cooks all day long and when the busyness of the evening comes around, it’s ready! Some meals are so easy that you don’t even have to defrost the meat. I will be posting some of those recipes soon.
3. Enlist some help!
My older two children (who are now 13 and 14) are a huge help to me in the kitchen. This obviously didn’t happen overnight and took some training, but it definitely pays off. They can do some pretty basic things even when they’re young, and you get to spend some quality time with them too. And now that they’re older, they can take over a lot of the meal preparation at this point, and this has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.
4. Find a few meals you and your family like and stick with them.
I have a friend who kind of just rotates through about five or six meals that she makes for her family. She doesn’t have a whole lot of experience and cooking isn’t really her thing so this works really well for her. It’s easy and economical. Her kids don’t complain and they love those meals. I have seen them chow down! This sounds like a great option. Maybe after awhile your family will get tired of those same meals, so then you can change it up and come up with another five or six meals that they really like. I think planning meals this way is an excellent, easy, and frugal idea. And I’m all about being frugal!
I hope that these tips have been helpful. If anyone has other suggestions, I would love to hear them! If you have some inexpensive and easy recipes to share, please do so! The more, the better!