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  • Writer's pictureSt. Matthews

Easy Meals for Busy Families

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

Meal planning when you know you'll be running from one activity to another all week can be really stressful on busy parents. The mental load alone of having to think through what each kid will eat, when they'll have time to eat before each activity and still make sure you clean the kitchen and/or get them to bed at a reasonable hour is enough to drive any busy parent mad!


We asked a few St. Matthew's families what tips they have to help make sure everyone eats and gets to where they need on time! No matter how busy you are, remember we are here for you, we love you and pray that all who enter into this busy time of year stay safe and healthy, and we hope to see you on Sundays!


In this post:

 

QUICK MEALS ON THE GO - Katie Fair

Tip: We do a lot of dinner boxes on nights with both kids going different directions. I try to put things that can be eaten on the go (like in the car) and are at least semi-healthy.

  • Hawaiian roll sandwich (Food lion has pretzel ones that are delicious)

  • applesauce pouch

  • yogurt stick

  • cheese & crackers (can get pre-cut cheese if strapped for time)

  • apple slices (same with buying pre-cut) or other fruit

  • The chicken nuggets from Costco taste very similar to Chick fil a nuggets and can replace the sandwich in the dinner box too. They're a hit in my house.

I'm all about pre-made meals from Costco. I'd say we do the street tacos most often. Everyone eats them and we can stretch it to 2 nights dinner with a family of 4.


In the colder months, I'll do crockpot veggie chili. It can be eaten on the go in Tupperware and I'll put shredded cheese and sour cream on the side. Don't forget the spoon :)


Crockpot Veggie Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 ounce) can black bean soup

  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 (16 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chopped tomatoes in puree

  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon dried basil

Directions

  1. Combine everything into crock pot

  2. Cook on high for at least 2 hours

  3. Serve with any toppings you like!

I'm all about pre-made meals from Costco. I'd say we do the street tacos most often. Everyone eats them and we can stretch it to 2 nights dinner with a family of 4.


 

QUICK AND EASY AT HOME DINNER - Hilary Hultman-Lee


Taco Pasta (in the instant pot)


Tip: This is a really easy recipe that my kids love. We do it in the instant pot, but you can do it easily on the stove as well. Also, I usually blend frozen spinach into the liquid - I do this with most red/brown sauces, just to ensure some dark green veg.



Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef, lean

  • 1 oz taco seasoning

  • 8 oz tomato sauce

  • 2 cups beef broth

  • 8 oz small pasta (medium shells)

  • 11/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, mexican blend or cheddar jack)


Steps:

  1. Set instant pot to saute, add the ground beef and break it up as it cooks. Once it is browned, stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, beef broth and then pasta.

  2. Cover and seal lid. Change the setting to manual and adjust time to 5 minutes.

  3. Once the instant pot beeps to show it's done, use the quick release. Carefully remove the cover and stir.

  4. Turn off the instant pot. Top with cheese, put cover back on but don't seal. Allow a minute for the cheese to melt. Serve with desired toppings!

 

NUTRITIOUS SNACKS FOR ON THE GO - Kristin Drummond


Homemade Snack Bars


Tip: I make these snack bars at the beginning of the week and substitute wheat germ for protein powder (to eliminate the powder aftertaste). My kids and hubby love them! I usually double the recipe and do two flavors!




Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour (store bought is best for ultra fine texture)

  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder (or try wheat germ to eliminate the powder aftertaste)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1–2 tbsp melted coconut oil

  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together oat flour, protein powder, and salt.

  2. Add in peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, and 1 tbsp coconut oil. Mix. It will be very thick, I suggest using your hands to really mix well. It should eventually come together like playdough, but if it’s still too dry add more coconut oil. You want them to be FIRM not soft and too much coconut oil will make them soft.

  3. Mix in chocolate chips, again using hand or spoon.

  4. Press into a bread pan (~8×4) and add more chocolate chips on top if desired. Press them into the top.

  5. Let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting into. Store in fridge.

For more flavors/recipes for these bars check out the original HERE.


 

A FREEZER FRIENDLY MAKE AHEAD - Stephanie Zebrowski


Honey Mustard Chicken - Great on the grill, baked or sauteed


Tip: I like to find recipes I can prepare and freeze to have meals for the future. Here is one the entire family enjoys. It is great grilled, but if I don’t feel like grilling, I have also baked it or sautéed it in a pan.


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large sweet onion

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

  • 3.5-4 lbs. of boneless chicken

Directions:

  1. Mince onion

  2. Mince or crush garlic in garlic press

  3. Whisk together olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, pepper, onions, garlic and parsley, then divide into 2 1-gallon freezer bags. (If freezing, be sure to label bags ahead of time.)

  4. Divide chicken into 2 bags of marinade; let marinate for at least 30 minutes (or longer) or press out air from the bag and freeze.

  5. Thaw if frozen and grill 6-8 minutes per side, basting with additional marinade, if desired. (also great if baked or sauteed).

Prep time - 30 mins. Cooking time - 12-16 mins (on the grill). Servings - 8


 

CROCKPOT MEAL FOR ON THE GO - Miriam Turner


Crockpot Meatball Subs


Tip: One of my family's favorite on the go dinners is meatball subs. We've eaten these at baseball games, scout outings, and on the road as we drive from one activity to the next. Do not recommend eating while driving unless you don't mind a meatball in your lap. Text me for laundry tips if needed. :-)


Ingredients:

  • 28 oz frozen meatballs

  • 24 oz jarred spaghetti sauce

  • 6 Sub Sandwich rolls

  • 6 slices of Provolone cheese

  • Italian seasoning


Directions:

To your crockpot, add a bag of frozen meatballs and the jar of spaghetti sauce. Cook on low for several hours. (TIP: Spray your crock pot with cooking spray to make clean-up a breeze.)

Before you head out the door, place one slice of provolone cheese and three meatballs on a sandwich roll. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Wrap in foil and set aside. Drop the empty crock pot into your dishwasher and come home to a clean kitchen! Serve with bags of chips, whole apple/fruit cups, or baby carrots.

 

FOR NIGHTS WHEN YOU HAVE A LITTLE MORE TIME - from Steven Lawson Chef/Owner of Out of Thyme Meals

Tip: for a night when you have a little more time and want to try a delicious crowd-pleaser.


Balsamic Glazed Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken with Asparagus & Dijon Vinaigrette

Marinade-

12oz Poppy Seed Dressing

2oz Strawberry Puree (or 8 fresh berries)

2oz Raspberry Puree (or 8 fresh berries)

Add ingredients to a food processor/blender and puree till smooth. Set Aside.


Chicken Breast- 4 servings

4 6oz breasts split in two, butterflied

Combine marinade and butterflied chicken breasts into a large zip lock bag. Make sure the marinade coats all the chicken. Turn bag a few times to coat if needed. Marinate a minimum 2 hours or overnight. Grill marinated chicken breast over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes a side until cooked through.

Asparagus- 1 serving

10 spears - stalks cut off

Line sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place asparagus on foil and spray with olive oil spray mixing the asparagus to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes, till browning occurs


Dijon Vinaigrette- 4 servings

4 oz apple cider vinegar

4 oz extra virgin olive oil

2 oz dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp honey

1tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt and pepper

Add all ingredients into a food processor/blender and blend till dressing thickens.


Balsamic Glaze- 4 servings

10 oz balsamic vinegar

Pour vinegar into a saucepan over medium heat until the vinegar reduces by half


Serve asparagus with dijon vinaigrette drizzled over the top. Place grilled chicken breast over the dressed asparagus. Drizzle chicken with balsamic glaze. Serve.


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