No-Brainers and Crowd-Pleasers: Getting Dinner on the Table


I love cooking. In my not-too-distant past, I loved turning on a great playlist and whipping up a delicious meal for dinner. It was cathartic and productive. Kids and schedules have since taken a lot of my joy out of cooking. It’s become just one more decision to make in the day, and between a “particular” toddler and an infant, I have become tired of modifying or supplementing meals at dinner time.

I’ve recently found the best way to meet everyone’s needs and fill everyone up at dinner is to find food that is easy to throw together and pick apart. Also, streamlining the process and capitalizing on favorites or crowd-pleasers has led me to a line-up of meals that are no-brainers and leave everyone happy.


Korean Beef, Rice Noodles and Frozen Veggies.

This recipe is super simple. Google “Korean beef.” Boil or fry rice noodles. Add some fresh or frozen vegetables and voila. Everyone has given this meal two thumbs up on more than one occasion. Also, it’s very easy to spice up with some red pepper flakes or Sriracha.

Salsa Verde Chicken.

One of my dearest friends introduced me to this dinner recipe. In a crockpot, add 1 pound of chicken breasts, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn and 1 jar of salsa verde. Low heat for 4-8 hours. Add 1 package of cream cheese 30 minutes before eating and shred chicken. Serve with rice. Good on its own or with chips. Again, an easy meal to spice up. Add some cilantro for flair.

Tuscan Sausage Soup.

You’ll need a huge stockpot for this one. Plan on having leftovers for days!

Sheet Pan Dinners.

Prep these the night before, so you only need to turn on the oven and wait. Some of my favorites are salmon with asparagus and chicken thighs with potatoes, carrots and onions.


This meal is easy and typically a crowd-pleaser at dinner in our home. I highly recommend baking the bacon in the oven. It’s less messy and takes less of your attention. Add a side of fruit or an easy carb (sweet potato, corn on the cob, etc).


Be it pancakes, waffles or french toast, kids typically love this meal. Add eggs with veggies and a side of yogurt or fruit. Think smarter, not harder. This meal always saves us when we are in a scramble (no pun intended).

Rice & Beans.

It’s simple. It’s cheap. Easy to spice up or simplify. We like to add some ground beef or smoked sausage with a can of tomatoes. Somehow, it gets the job done.

Baked Potato Bar.

Definitely take the time to salt the potatoes and stick them in the oven. But after that, possibilities are endless. Sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, onion, sloppy joe meat, taco meat or whatever you desire.

These are just some recipes from a family with no allergies or severe aversions to foods. Writing down the meals that make the most sense for our family in this season has made planning, shopping and preparing meals for dinner easier on me, and meal times seem slightly less chaotic. The more I parent, the more I learn that you cannot force kids to eat. The most you can do is provide a meal with several different food groups, which is what I set out to accomplish these days.

What are your family’s go-to meals for dinner?


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