Everyone knows how stressful the work week can get. Many evenings, you find yourself speeding home with a grumbling tummy after the reasonable dinner hour has already passed. So many times since Jonathan and I moved in together a year and a half ago, we would be hungrily running to the grocery store on a weeknight after work, spending too much money on a meal that was poorly planned because we were just, well, starving.
So we decided to start planning better and making better use of my KitchenAid mixer and the 2 (yes 2!) Crockpots we own. We set a food budget for ourselves, deciding that each month we will not exceed $300 in groceries. That gives us $75 a week (or less, if we’re being really good and cost-conscious!) for packed lunch items, quick breakfasts, and comforting dinners.
I know I’m really lucky that I found myself a guy who really enjoys cooking, and is often scouring foodie websites and magazines for new recipes to try. In fact, as I write this he’s in the kitchen trying a new homemade orange chicken recipe! So between the 2 of us, we always have an arsenal of recipes built up to consider for our grocery list. We usually try to pick 2 meals each week that will be comforting, (at least relatively) healthy, cost-efficient, and will make good leftovers. If you’re a household of 2 like us, you know that many recipes create too much food for just one meal for 2 people, so we can usually get 2-3 meals out of some of our weeknight recipes. And, we always make at least 1 of our meals on Sunday. That way, it can sit in the Crockpot while we’re out running errands, gone on a hike, or just relaxing at home, and we have a few meals ready for Sunday night and the week! And when we get home late from work, we have a hearty, tummy-pleasing, and stress-relieving meal to reheat on the stove-top or in the oven.
Here are some of the recipes we’ve tried this winter on our dinner adventures (some of them might look familiar to you Pinterest-users, since several have been found on fellow pinners’ boards):
- Crock Pot Asian Pork
- Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
- Zucchini Veggie Dish (we like to cook up 2-3 chicken breasts, slice them thinly, and add them between the zucchini layers to make this a complete meal)
- Chicken Bundles
- Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
- Chilaquiles Casserole
- Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings (these are way fun, because you use crescent roll dough for your dumplings, which makes it quick and super easy!)
- Vegetable and Turkey Meatloaf (if you’re a meatloaf eater, it’s a great choice for leftovers, meatloaf always tastes better the next day)
- “Lighter” Chicken Enchiladas
- Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup (thanks to my friend from school, Becky, for introducing us to this one, so yum!)
- Salmon with Snap Peas, Yellow Peppers, and Pistou (while this one takes a little more effort and is best fresh, if you like salmon, you’re going to LOVE it with this pistou…before Jonathan found this recipe, I didn’t even know what pistou was, and now I want it on everything!)
- Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
And here are 2 family recipes that I’ll let you in on, because they make a lot of food, great leftovers, and are both totally comforting!
Black Beans & Rice (from Jonathan’s mom)
- Cooked white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (I’ve used canola or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I hate measuring so 1/2 of the onion works)
- 1/4 cup chopped green pepper (1/2 of the pepper works fine)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (undrained)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 package sazon goya (without annato) (*OR, *instead*,* use: 2 tsp.
cumin, 1 tsp. chicken *boullion*, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine or cider vinegar
Heat oil in medium sauce pan and saute onion, green pepper, and minced
garlic. Saute until tender, approx. 8 – 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until boiling; reduce heat and simmer
until sauce is reduced, about 20 minutes. Smashing some of the beans on the
side of the pot while they simmer adds some flavor and thickens up the sauce
a bit. If too runny, you can always add less water next time.
Serve with the cooked rice.
Chicken Soup with Dumplings (from my Papa)
-1 fryer chicken
-a chopped stalk of celery
-a chopped bag of carrots
-1 large sliced onion
-3 dry bay leaves
-1 tbsp. dry parsley flakes
-small can of light chicken buillon (or 2 cubes buillon)
Wash chicken, put it in a large pot, and cover chicken with water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Skim off fat that rises to the surface.
Add celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, chicken buillon, and sprinkle with parsley flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil, turn down heat and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove chicken when thoroughly cooked (easy to remove from the bone), cut up, and add after boiling dumplings.
-1 cup flour
Mix eggs with flour, and add milk to bring mixture to a smooth, soft consistency. Using a teaspoon, drop spoonful of dumpling mixture into the lightly boiling soup. Dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked.
Add chicken and enjoy!
I hope you got a few new ideas for delicious weeknight meals! We’re always looking for new recipes to try, so if you know of any good ones that you think fit our needs, please feel free to reply :)