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Between the weird holiday schedule, recovering from travel, one of my kids who seems to like zero foods, and packing camp lunches, my motivation to cook dinner is low. But since we still need to eat, I’ve made a list of my favorite easy options to fit this exact situation—because I am sure that I am not alone in feeling this way at times. (Or all the time? Just so you know, I often wonder how much I’d cook if cooking wasn’t my job!)
And now for a handful of our current go-to easy meals. (Also yes, sometimes we do takeout.) Always feel free to comment with any questions or to add your own meal to the list!
This is one of those throw-everything-onto-a-platter meals that I am loving right now, and it can take the form of more or less salad according to everyone’s preferences. My son eats mostly cheese and rice when we have this and the rest of us have more of a mix. It works! (To make lettuce easier for toddlers to chew, cut it finely with scissors. It may take until they are well over 2, if not 3, for this to be an easy texture to handle.)
Bursting with fresh, bright flavor, this Lemon Broccoli Pasta is one of our absolute favorite fast meals. It’s one of the rare pastas with the ingredients all mixed together that my kids enjoy. Plus, it’s ready in less than 20 minutes, uses one pot, and you can use fresh or frozen broccoli.
It’s no secret that we eat a lot of chicken nugget Caesar salad in our family—it’s the primary reason we always have nuggets in the freezer. Caesar salad was the first salad that all three of my kids enjoyed, so we have it all sorts of ways, including with pasta. Use homemade Caesar dressing, a bottled one, or a salad kit.
This can take the form of a kid-friendly charcuterie board; a Mediterranean mi of hummus, pita chips, rotisserie chicken, cucumbers, and tomatoes; or whatever random of mix of foods you find in the kitchen. My goal is simply a mix of food groups that we can all choose from.
This one involves more cooking, but since meatballs are a favorite among my family, I often make this the one part of a meal that I’ll cook. (Sometimes i make a double batch and stash half into the freezer for a future week.) Then, simply stuff them into rolls to have as sandwiches or have them alongside warmed fully cooked rice from the store. I love them since they’re a great way to use garden zucchini and they store well and work to make ahead.
I had a phase when I was obsessed with the marinated tofu from the salad bar at Whole Foods—but once I moved hours away from the closest store, I decided to figure out hot to make it at home. This tofu recipe is really easy and really flavorful, and goes nicely with sliced cucumbers, crackers, cheese and fruit. (Yes, another snacky dinner!) Or pair with rice, cucumbers, and bottled teriyaki sauce for an easy rice bowl.
I try to give myself freedom to go with leftovers, sandwiches, scrambled eggs and toast, and boxed Mac and cheese too. There’s no “winning” when it comes to dinner to me, and it’s always okay to do what works for you.