Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars – From Freezer to Oven!

Well, here we are. The school year is in full swing. Fall soccer season is knocking our (smelly) socks off. I have completely forgotten which way is up.

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I already lost track of which way is south because when people give me directions they are not allowed to use ridiculous phrases like, “Turn east and you’ll see our house on the north corner.” What kind of foreign language are they even speaking? When giving me directions, people may only use phrases like, “turn right” or “turn left” or better yet “turn toward the sign with the monkey.”

In summary, September is always a very busy month for our family, and I am extremely directionally challenged. However, as long as I do everything I can to keep our food simple, I handle myself okay in the kitchen (which, as it turns out, is located in the northeast corner of our house).

Stashing prepared food in our freezer (found when you take a south at the stove and head due west toward the toaster) is only helpful if said prepared food doesn’t get lost in the back and freezer burned. I’ve discovered a couple of tricks during the past couple of years that make freezer cooking much better for our family, and my favorite is this:

Stir together breakfast baked goods, but freeze them before baking. Pull out desired amount of said frozen goods and bake them fresh on the morning you plan to serve them.

When doing this, I get baking messes out of the way so I don’t have to measure and mix on busy school mornings. But we can still eat the goodies fresh out of the oven.

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

Take, for instance, my “famous” Giant Breakfast Cookies. I mix up a double batch (because why make one batch when you can make two?). I scoop the dough onto cookie sheets and freeze the cookie dough balls. Each morning when we want hot, fresh Breakfast Cookies, I simply pull out some frozen cookie dough balls and bake them while I scramble eggs and slice strawberries. We all eat a fabulous breakfast and I’ve hardly worked at all.

Freezer Breakfast Cookies5

I do the same with muffin batter, freezing it in muffin cups, unbaked, and pulling them out to bake as needed. Homemade Poptarts are perfect frozen unbaked as well.

The Easiest Way to Make Muffins

This is all wonderful, seeing as I must use all my energy after breakfast to try and understand what my phone means when it tells me to “head north toward Highway 2″ as I’m trying to locate a soccer field in another city. For the love of my brain cells, JUST TELL ME TO GO STRAIGHT OR TURN RIGHT. Well, anyway…

My most recent “Mix and Freeze” breakfast food discovery is this: I can mix up big batches of these Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars, freeze them unbaked, then pull out squares and bake them as needed.

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See? I line my 8×8 inch pans with parchment paper, press in the dough, and freeze. I even freeze it in layers (though learned the hard way that it is important to keep parchment paper between the layers). Once frozen, I transfer the unbaked dough to gallon-sized freezer bags. If I think about it the night before, I’ll pull out a square to thaw in the fridge so I can bake it the next day. Otherwise, I simply pull out a frozen square in the morning, put it into a pan and bake it with a few minutes of extra baking time.

Where has this tip been my whole life? (Probably hiding somewhere between the east and the west, but of course, I could never find it.)

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

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Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars - From Freezer to Oven!
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ¾ cup sucanat or ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Stir together melted butter and sucanat.
  2. Add eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla, mixing well.
  3. Stir in oats and flour until well combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread mixture in a 9×13 inch baking dish (or two 8x8 inch baking dishes).
  6. Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  7. To Freeze Dough: Line 8x8 inch pans with parchment paper, press in the dough, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the unbaked dough to freezer bags. Thaw dough squares in the fridge overnight to bake the next day. Or pull out a frozen square in the morning, put it into a pan and bake it with a few minutes of extra baking time.

Make-Ahead Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars

I highly recommend making and freezing bacon ahead so that within thirty seconds, you can serve hot, sizzly bacon with these bars. Any fruit will go with these as well, and with that, breakfast is served.

May your mornings be pleasant, may your breakfast be tasty, and may you never tell me to head south on 6th street.

(Too Much) Fun I’m Having With Homemade Brownie Mix, Bread Mix, Pancake Mix, and More!

What is it about having this collection of homemade mixes in my pantry and freezer that has made me feel so organized and empowered? Yesterday I was just a regular person. Today I’m like, “I have created a huge amount of Brownie Mix and put it into an air tight container! Nothing can stop me now!!”

simple mixes

Baking Mixes: My New Super Power

In the past, I felt that mixes like this were silly. After all, is it really all that difficult to get out necessary pancake ingredients and mix up a batch? No. Will I actually turn into a complete disaster if I have to measure flour and baking powder into a bowl every time I need to bake a cake? C’mon now.

But days are full, life is short, and the truth is that sometimes I DON’T have time to measure salt and yeast, so there. Some days it’s all I can do to remember the location of our soccer game and get everyone fed and there on time. But never fear. Everything will be okay now because I HAVE MUFFIN MIX.

Simple Mixes that Save the Day

The book full of Simple Mixes recipes is FREE for Simple Meals members!
Details below. :)

As you can see, I have had the most fun playing with all my new Simple Mixes. I’m here to tell you that it actually does save time to make pancakes from a mix instead of getting out all ingredients and making them from ground zero. And it definitely saves brain energy. (This calls for high-fives all around.) When making pancakes from my homemade mix, I have our hot breakfast on the table within ten minutes.

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God has given me many opportunities to feed housefuls of extra people lately, so even beyond feeding my family, I’m finding these Simple Mixes to be a HUGE help in spreading the yummy food love. I used the Muffin Mix to make Banana Bread one morning (even though the recipes included are actually for muffins). It worked! Though I dumped in too much milk and the bread sunk a little after I pulled it out of the oven. No worries. It all got eaten!

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I used the Brownie Mix to make two pans of brownies to feed extra college students who came over for meals. They were a hit, and the mixes helped me get the brownies into the oven in less than five minutes!

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As if the Stir-and-Pour Bread recipe isn’t easy enough, I found that having Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix made it that much easier. The picture turned out fuzzy, but the bread turned out beautiful – and it was perfect for a busy day recently when we needed bread to round out our lunch.

stir bread

I’ve created this Simple Mixes that Save the Day eBook full of these awesome mix recipes, and I’m giving it away for FREE to all Simple Meals members this week!

Here’s a peek at the first page of the book, so you can see what you’ll be given:

simple mixes intro page

Every week, Simple Meals members receive a full {simple} meal plan with recipes, time and money saving tips, a grocery list, and more. The Simple Meals plans are sent out to members every Thursday morning so you have plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming week. So current members! Watch for this fun new Simple Mixes eBook to hit your inbox this Thursday!

Not a Simple Meals member? Please join us! The price is right (only $1/week, and even less with the coupon mentioned below!), and the money and time you’ll save in the kitchen will be such a blessing to you! If you join Simple Meals before Thursday, you’ll gain access to this brand new Simple Mixes book too!!

Real all about Simple Meals here.

Join now —>

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

Just want the Simple Mixes to Save the Day eBook? Get it here —>

Simple Mixes that Save the Day
Get our 7 amazing whole grain, low sugar mix recipe - from brownies to breads! Use them to make 22 varieties of delicious, simple baked goods for your family and guests!
Price: $7.95

Simple Mixes that Save the Day (Gorgeous New FREE Recipe eBook for Simple Meals Members!)

I’m ridiculously excited about the Simple Mixes book I get to share with you! It’s gorgeous and there are fudge brownies involved. So if you value beauty and chocolate, you will be just as excited as I. Oh, but there’s more!

If there’s anything at all that I can do to make my real food kitchen life simpler, you know I try to do it. That’s how Simple Meals was born – it was part of my effort to cut down on time spent in the kitchen while still putting great and healthy meals on the table.

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Yes, I love to cook. But I love looking at my family’s faces more. I love being the loudest cheerleader at all their events. I love having meaningful conversations with my husband. I love spending time in the Word. I love writing and keeping in touch with all of you. I love keeping life simple so I can keep my priorities my priorities.

Every time I learn a new simple trick or figure out a new simple recipe, I share it with you so that you, too, can simplify your kitchen life. Every week we send out a detailed Simple Meals menu plan with a bonus grocery list, tips, additional recipes, and suggestions for keeping your week as simple as possible. We give you this for a mere $1.00 per week, because that makes us happy. :)

And sometimes, we come up with even more ways to simplify your life, so we put them into an eBook, and we give them to Simple Meals members for FREE! Now introducing…

The biggest reason this little eBook makes me excited is because following its recipes have filled my freezer and pantry with all sorts of goodie mixes that save me even more time! I’ve got beautiful containers filled now with lovely mixes, so if…

  • I want to make pancakes for my family? I simply get out the my homemade pancake and waffle mix.
  • I’m making cornbread? I get out the cornbread mix.
  • Extra teens are coming over? I get out my brownie mix!
  • I decide at the last minute to make a cake? Oh, there’s a mix for that.

Simple Mixes that Save the Day

Here’s just a tiny sample of what I have on hand now, thanks to this Simple Mixes book. Muffin Mix, Pancake/Waffle Mix, Brownie Mix, and Stir-and-Pour Bread Mix:

simple mixes

This little book packs a big punch, and it’s free this week for all Simple Meals subscribers!! Take a look at the inside page:

simple mixes intro page

Our Simple Meals plans are sent out to members every Thursday morning so you have plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming week. So current members! Watch for this fun new Simple Mixes eBook to hit your inbox next Thursday too!

Not a Simple Meals member? Please join us! The price is right, and the money and time you’ll save in the kitchen will be such a blessing to you! If you join Simple Meals before next Thursday, you’ll gain access to this brand new Simple Mixes book too!!

Real all about Simple Meals here.

Simple Meals
Your yearly subscription equips you with a 52 week's worth of meal plans, grocery guide, recipes, and bonus tips, plus you get over $60 worth of bonus eBooks! Your Simple Meals plan will arrive in your inbox each Thursday morning.
Price: $52.00

Next week I’ll share more about the fun I’ve been having with my Simple Mixes. Because where there are mixes, the mama will bake, and everyone at her house is happy.

Just want the Simple Mixes to Save the Day eBook? Get it here —>

Simple Mixes that Save the Day
Get our 7 amazing whole grain, low sugar mix recipe - from brownies to breads! Use them to make 22 varieties of delicious, simple baked goods for your family and guests!
Price: $7.95

Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot or Crock Pot!)

This Simple Lasagna Casserole makes it possible for me to offer this proclamation: If life gets any easier, we will all have to find new hobbies. 

lasagna casserole1

Just kidding. No doubt we all have plenty to fill our days. It’s just that all these Simple Meals take so little time and energy to prepare, we are all shocking ourselves with how quickly we can put a delicious, real food meal on the table!

Prep time for this Simple Lasagna Casserole recipe takes a tiny 5 minutes. Cook time in the Instant Pot takes another 5 minutes. Good grief, I barely have time to get out salad fixings, plates, and forks before my Instant Pot beeps to tell me that dinner is ready.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to start dinner ahead of time, leave, and come back to it a few hours later. That’s where the Crock Pot comes in. I can start this casserole cooking in my crock pot (which also takes only 5 minutes of effort), walk away, do a load of laundry, answer a dozen emails, leave the house, scream for my boys at a soccer game, and come home to a ready-made dinner.

lasagna casserole2

NOTE: One of the tricks to making this meal so fast and easy to put together is having Cooked Hamburger Meat already prepared and ready to stir into this dish. If you have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend cooking it this way to get ahead on your hamburger. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, I still recommend cooking hamburger meat ahead of time on the stove-top, then freezing it in meal size portions to make dinner prep easier!

Cook Time Options for Simple Lasagna Casserole

Instant Pot: 5 minutes
Crock Pot: 3-4 hours

Simple Lasagna Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot and Crock Pot!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 16-ounces UNCOOKED whole grain pasta, any shape
  • 1 pound cooked hamburger meat
  • 50-ounces spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16-ounces cottage cheese
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (your favorite)
Instructions
  1. Stir uncooked pasta, spaghetti sauce, water, cooked meat, sea salt, and cottage cheese in a crock pot or instant pot. Cook as follows:
  2. Crock Pot: Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Instant Pot: Cook on Manual at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  4. Once time is up for either Crock Pot or Instant Pot, stir mixture and top with cheese, covering dish so the cheese will melt.
  5. Serve!

Simple Lasagna Casserole for Instant Pot or Crock Pot

More Simple Recipes

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How to Cook 5 Pounds of Frozen Hamburger Meat in an Instant Pot in 30 Minutes (and what to do with it)

This is, hands down, my favorite Instant Pot trick so far! I will forevermore cook frozen hamburger meat an Instant Pot as it saves loads of time and I don’t have to thaw, babysit, or stir my meat to get it ready to add to dishes. Wait till you see how easy this is!

instant pot hamburger8

How to Cook Frozen Hamburger Meat in an Instant Pot

Step One: Get hamburger meat out of the freezer.

(But whatever you do, don’t plan ahead. No way, no how! Don’t thaw your meat because life is too short to spend time thinking about details like this.)

Step Two: Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pot under the trivet. (Very important detail!)

Step Three: Put chunks of frozen meat onto the metal trivet inside the pot. Stand them up like soldiers so they’ll cook more evenly.

instant pot hamburger6

Step Four: Put the lid on your Instant Pot. Close the venting valve so it will seal.

Step Five: Set the Instant Pot to 30 minutes on high pressure on Manual Mode.

Step Six: Come back when the machine beeps as if to say, “Your hard work is done. I hope you enjoyed your nap.”

Step Seven: Carefully release the pressure and use a meat thermometer to be sure the internal temp is at least 160 degrees.

Step Eight: Transfer the cooked meat to a big bowl and use a sturdy utensil to break it apart. (I have this “Meat Masher” and love it for this job!)

Now you’ve got five pounds of cooked hamburger to use any way you need! See my big list below of great options!

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Note: What to do with the water and grease at the bottom of your Instant Pot?

If I had one complaint about this meat-cooking method, it would be that all the grease drips to the bottom, leaving the meat a bit dry. What can I say? I may be the only one on the planet who wants to keep a little fat in my meat! So I use a ladle to drizzle some of the water/grease back into the meat after I’ve broken it apart.

How to Cook 5 Pounds of Frozen Hamburger in an Instant Pot

Now I’ve got some great recipes and ideas to share for using your cooked hamburger meat!

33 Recipes for your Cooked Hamburger Meat

Divide your cooked meat into 1-pound portions in freezer bags, freeze, then pull them out to use as needed for quick and Simple Meals! Or divide your meat into separate bowls and start building some of these great meals to make your meal time ridiculously easy!

Have you tried cooking frozen hamburger in an Instant Pot? What are your favorite meals that include hamburger meat?

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven!)

Hooray! Simple Hashbrown Casserole is my first (of many?!) Instant Pot recipes to share. But guess what else?

instant pot hashbrown casserole2

I’m well aware that not everyone has an Instant Pot, so I’m also providing instructions for baking this in an oven. Not only that, because there are times we might need a slower cooking option (like, if we need to get dinner started, then head out to ball games, then come home to a cooked meal) – so I’m also including Crock Pot cooking instructions!

As best I can, I will provide all these options each (or most of the) time I share an Instant Pot recipe. Here’s a quick glance at cooking times for this Simple Hashbrown Casserole so you can make your best plan on the day you make this.

Cook Time Options for Simple Hashbrown Casserole

Instant Pot: 15 minutes
Oven: 1 hour
Crock Pot: 3-6 hours, depending on low or hi setting

instant pot hashbrown casserole

You need just five ingredients to make this recipe! One of the ingredients is this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix, which I love to have on hand at all times. Another ingredient is cooked meat. This time I made hamburger meat in my Instant Pot and I can’t wait to tell you about it! This is the easiest meat-cooking method there is – and possibly my “if you get an Instant Pot for no other reason, this is it!” shout out. I’ll share about this meat-cooking method soon!

You might remember a variation of this new simple recipe: Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole. You can most certainly make that recipe in your Instant Pot or Crock Pot following these instructions! And if you don’t love the “ranch” flavor this calls for, simply sub it out for any spices you like! Truly this recipe is most forgiving, and allows you to make it with any meat you prefer or have on hand, so you can create it to your family’s taste!

And then there’s the variety of cooking methods that allow you to make this no matter how busy your day, so I think we can all agree that this recipe wins the “Cooks Choice Award!”

Simple Hashbrown Casserole

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (Instructions for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cooked meat (hamburger, ham, bacon, sausage, or any of your choosing!)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 bag of frozen shredded hashbrowns
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together cooked meat, shredded cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix.
  2. Fold in frozen hashbrowns until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Instant Pot Method: Cook for 15 minutes on manual mode, hi pressure.
  4. Oven Baking: Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes or until casserole is lightly browned and bubbly.
  5. Crock Pot Method: Cook on low for 6 hours or on hi for 3 hours.

Simple Hashbrown Casserole (for Instant Pot, Crock Pot, or Oven)

More Simple Recipes

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Master List of Simple Breakfast Ideas

Who is ready to download the Master List of Simple Breakfast Ideas?!

Hopefully you already grabbed the Master List of Simple Lunch Ideas. I’m covering my fridge with these lists to make our transition from summer break to a school schedule a little bit easier. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your lunch list here!

breakfast_cookies

Watch also for our upcoming Master Lists of food and recipes and ideas to make snacks and to fill a lunchbox. (Subscribe here so you don’t miss them!)

Today’s list:

The Master List of Simple Breakfast Ideas

Keep Breakfast Simple

Note: If possible I try to always serve a protein of some sort for breakfast. I also always serve fruit. I’ll begin this Master Breakfast List with the protein and fruit lists that I typically serve with everything else on the list!

Your Real Food Master Simple Breakfast List

You can download this entire list here. But I’ll share it all on this post for reference also. I also recommend that you pin it so you can find it quickly as needed!

strawberry

Protein to Go With Breakfast

ham and egg cups1

Fruit that is Great With Breakfast

Any fruit is great! Our favorites for breakfast are:

  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honey Dew Melon
  • Grapes

Stir and Pour Bread Varieties

This Stir and Pour Bread recipe is a game changer to make it super simple to have Homemade Bread on hand to use for a quick breakfast!

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Breakfast You Can Make the Night Before

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Make Ahead Breakfast Cereal

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Breakfast in a Mug or Glass

Quick Breakfasts From Freezer to Oven

Freezer Breakfast Cookies5

Big List of Muffin Recipes

Breakfast You Can Make in Your Waffle Iron

Great Waffle Iron Hacks

Quick Mix Breakfast Ideas

If you have Quick Mix on hand, you can quickly make:

Would you like to make this Master List of Simple Breakfast Ideas even simpler?

Sign up here to receive the entire Master List of Simple Breakfast Ideas in a free downloadable document! Then you can keep it handy on your computer or print it and put it on your fridge as a super handy reference!

Master List of 60 Simple Breakfast Ideas

Grab a free download of the Master Simple Breakfast List!

Watch for more Master Lists coming this month, filled with real food and simple snacks and lunch box ideas!

What would you add to the list? What are your favorite simple breakfast foods to feed your family?

P.S. What about a simple dinner list? We’ve already got that covered with our Weekly Simple Meals Plans!

What I Think About My New Instant Pot

I finally did it. After so many of you told me how great the Instant Pot is, after so many insisted that I would love it, after all kinds of hemming and hawing and rebelling about getting one more appliance for my kitchen…I finally got myself an Instant Pot.

Instant Pot

It was Amazon Prime Day. It was a good deal. It was a big pot for my family’s big needs. It was time.

I’m sure you’re all wondering, has my new Instant Pot completely changed my life? Am I a better mom now? Do I sleep better at night because of it? Does it help my house stay in a less cluttered state? Do I get mail to the box in better time? Am I finally wearing matching socks? In other words, does the Instant Pot help make my world go round?!

The answer to all of the above is “no.” But I do make mean batches of hard boiled eggs in record time, so I think we can all give a cheer and feel that this was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

eggs

I’ve truly had fun with my new toy, which isn’t taking up any extra room on my counter because it has actually taken the place of my coffee pot if you can believe it! (I realized after I started drinking this healthy coffee that I no longer need a coffee-maker taking up space on a daily basis. Away went the coffee pot. In its place went the Instant Pot. A pot for a pot. It just seemed logical.)

At the very moment our Instant Pot arrived on our porch, I was making Tuna Salad. Matt decided he definitely wanted boiled eggs in his tuna since we now had an Instant Pot in which to make them quickly. I read the “how to boil eggs” instructions while he got it set up, and while I’m pretty sure we didn’t do everything right, nothing blew up, our eggs hard boiled like they were supposed to, and Matt got eggs in his tuna the way he wanted. Good story, huh?

Not long after the arrival of the pot and the making of the eggs, we headed back out to church camp for a week. So our Instant Pot sat forlorn and lonely on our counter-top all week. Since coming back from camp, I’ve been playing with it as I’ve had time. Here’s what I’ve tried, though please don’t get excited because my stories might bore you to sleep…

For instance, one night we had company and my stove was full of other big pots cooking other food. So I tried steaming our broccoli and carrots in the Instant Pot. The recommended seven minutes was way too long and our broccoli came out dead and mushy and completely unappetizing. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to try a new appliance when you’re serving food to company?

instant pot2

See, look. My full stove, which is what led me to steam veggies in my Instant Pot. Fascinating.

A few days later I put a whole chicken into my Instant Pot, dumped on some BBQ Sauce, and turned it on. That was ridiculously simple and we ate chicken for lunch 35 minutes later. I served it with okra. It was very good. The end.

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The part of the story you don’t want to hear is that I asked Matt to please take the leftover meat off the bones, but I didn’t communicate clearly about saving the bones so I could try making broth in my new Instant Pot. Learning to make broth in my new pot will have to be a lesson for another day.

instant pot beef

Perhaps my favorite of anything I’ve tried so far is cooking frozen ground beef! As soon as I perfect this method, I will for sure share the details. I think this will be a HUGE time saver!

Sooo, while none of this Instant Pot news was super exciting to read about at this point, you can be sure that as we settle into a new school year with lots of teenage mouths to feed, we will be absolutely making the most of our new Instant Pot! And when I figure out all the great food we can make with it, I’ll share all the fabulous details!

I’d love to hear from you if you have an Instant Pot. What are your favorite time-saving recipes to make?

Master List of Simple Lunch Ideas

For everyone who is home with a family to feed during lunchtime every day, this List of Simple Lunch Ideas is for you! These lunches are all made with simple, real foods. (Coming soon: A list of great simple, real food lunches to pack and take to work and school.)

Keep Lunch Simple

As a brand new school year approaches and I am praying away the scheduling craze that is trying to creep in along with the turning of the calendar pages, I’ve decided to put together Master Lists of food and recipes and ideas to make lunches, breakfasts, snacks, and lunchbox options as simple as possible each day. Today’s list:

The Master List of Simple Lunch Ideas

But Laura! You home school and work from home so you’re home all day. Why is it difficult to get food on the table?

{And Laura falls on the floor laughing and crying and kicking the chairs in her path while throwing couch pillows.}

Dear friends. Homeschooling only means that our books and software live in the house and our school is operated out of the home instead of a classroom. We are on the run a significant amount of time between music lessons, college classes, field trips, service opportunities, athletic events, church activities, library runs, and the like.

For our family, homeschooling and working from home has offered us the coolest, most wonderful, and fabulously flexible opportunity and we are extremely grateful for the relationships we have with our kids and with the community because of it. But it also lends itself to extremely full days with little down time. So in the name of sanity…

This mama needs a Master Simple Lunch List.

And a Master Breakfast List. And a Master Snack List. Watch for those lists, coming very soon. (Subscribe here so you don’t miss them!)

Where’s the list of Simple Dinners? This is already taken care of with our Simple Meals plans. I follow those, so our evening meals hit the table very quickly. I am so, so thankful for this!

Why not eat sandwiches every day for lunch?

The short answer is that it would cost my family too much money. The other short answer is that we prefer more variety of nutrients and less carb-heavy meals.

No matter what though, I recommend that we always, always…

Eat a fruit and a veggie with each lunch.

This is easier than you think. I’ll tell you how! I think it’s time for the list, don’t you? (To make this much easier, you can download this entire, beautiful Master Simple Lunch List here.)

Your Real Food Master Simple Lunch List

You can download this entire list here. But I’ll share it all on this post for reference also. I also recommend that you pin it so you can find it quickly as needed!

watermelon

We’ll begin with fruits and veggies because instead of thinking of them second, let’s start thinking of them first!

Fruits and veggies that can be pulled from the fridge and served immediately with little to no prep (beyond washing):

  • Baby carrots (I like the petite carrots – they are sweeter and easier to eat!)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mini sweet peppers
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Fresh Spinach or Mixed Greens

Fruits and veggies that take a few minutes of prep but are still super simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Sliced peaches or nectarines
  • Steamed peas (frozen peas cook very quickly!)
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Raw broccoli “trees”
  • Cut cantaloupe
  • Watermelon wedges
  • Sliced pears
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Steamed green beans (frozen green beans take just a few minutes, but can cook themselves while you get the remainder of lunch ready)

If you have Homemade Ranch Dip or Hummus on hand, these can be thrown onto the table quickly to help get the veggies down!

orange

Simple Lunches that can be made ahead of time and warmed up quickly:

Simple Lunches that can be thrown together with little prep time:

strawberry

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Simple Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

True friends are the kind that hear your family mini-van has died and they say, “Here. Take our car until you find a vehicle. Keep it as long as you need it.”

True friends are the kind who come over to check out your “new” used mini-van and pick up the car they gave you on loan and while you’re talking in the driveway, you decide you must certainly invite them in for dinner, even though dinner is…

Random leftovers.

Yes. You can invite true friends in to share your random leftovers.

So we did. We said something like, “You guys want to come in for dinner? We’re not sure what we’re eating…” It was an invitation they couldn’t refuse.

We sat together and ate re-warmed Hawaiian Beef Roast with a few other odds and ends, and it tasted just as good as a meal made fresh that day, because true friends make any food taste better.

But what really makes a friend true is when you’re eating leftovers together and they tell you about burgers stuffed with cheese. Indeed, a true friend is someone who tells you to cut a hunk of cream cheese and wrap your burger around it before you grill.

Today, my friends become your friends and this recipe becomes your BFF, because today I’m sharing my friends’ brilliant idea to make Cheese-Stuffed Burgers.

cheese stuffed burgers

So what if these make your grill a little bit messy? Also, so what if I served these burgers on white burger buns? Indeed, I did. Would you like to know why I did this?

1) Because I don’t have time right now to make Homemade Buns. Maybe I will again eventually. Right now I have to compromise a little so I can keep up with life.
2) Also, I compared the ingredients to the 100% Whole Wheat Buns available at my local store. The ingredients in those were still terrible and they don’t taste as good. Why pay more for something that doesn’t taste good and isn’t actually healthier?

So I caved and I bought gross, cheap white store-bought buns. I’m not proud of this but I just ate a Cheese-Stuffed Burger so I actually don’t even care because all of life is better with these burgers. (Which, for the record, I ate without a bun because I’m personally not interested in buns right now. Meat and cheese though? Yes, please.)

cheese stuffed burgers2

To make these burgers, you’ll need to cut the cheese. (Saying that never, ever stops being funny.) I made it simple by cutting my cream cheese half, then in half again, then in half again…until I had eight squares of cream cheese. I then divided two pounds of hamburger meat into eight pieces, wrapped the beef around the cheese, and onto the grill they went.

I’m quite sure you could use any variety of cheese you like. I’m thinking Pepper-Jack would be a fantastic choice!

Simple Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Simple Cheese-Stuffed Burgers
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds hamburger meat
  • 8-ounces cream cheese (or any cheese you like)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Divide meat into 8 patties.
  2. Cut cheese into 8 pieces.
  3. Wrap meat around the cheese and flatten slightly.
  4. Grill or pan fry until meat is no longer pink, seasoning to your liking.
  5. Serve right away.

Simple Cheese Stuffed Burgers

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