The Simple Meals Our Family Has Been Eating This Week, Part 2

I’m assuming you downloaded your FREE Simple Meals Planning Packet this week? It is free, after all. Go get yours!

I posted earlier this week about how I’ve been using this week’s Simple Meals menu to easily get food on the table for my family. As it turns out, I used half the plan last week and am finishing it up this week. (Perks of being the one who creates the menu plans – I got to start using it ahead of time!) If you missed it, check out this post which shares pictures of the first few meals in the plan.

Here we go with Days 5 and 6 of following the Simple Meals plan!

Day 5: Crock Pot NightSimple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

To kick-start a new week, on Sunday night, right before I headed to bed, I put together the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast. For the record, if you forget to start that recipe at night before bed (because at the end of the day, some of us who shall remain nameless might be too tired to remember to execute good plans like this), you can always start it early in the morning to have it ready in the evening in time for dinner.

I was very proud of myself for remembering to start the roast on Sunday night, and woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of our lunch. I turned the crock pot to “keep warm” setting and at lunch time I stir-fried some veggies to go with our meal. (We have been having our main meals at lunchtime lately because it’s working better with our busy evening activities schedule.)

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I got this fun note from Susan last week about the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast recipe and wanted to share!

Thank you so much for sharing this common recipe. I mean, who hasn’t already made a roast in the crockpot before? But your tips were amazing. And I didn’t know I could put it in the crock without first browning it in a pan (this always felt like so much trouble, and would discourage me from making this dish when I was in a hurry). And Frozen!  Are you kidding me? Well – I did it – just like you suggested. Cooked on low for 12 hours, and it was the best tasting, most tender roast beef I’ve ever made. Oh, and I cooked carrots in the bottom, and their flavor was wonderful. Thank you again.

Fun, huh? Thanks, Susan. This is what Simple Meals is all about!

Day 6: No Trouble NightSimple Pizza Chicken Bake

The final meal on this week’s Simple Meals menu was Simple Pizza Chicken Bake. I could go on and on about how easy this recipe is to make and how very delicious it is to eat. I served it with green beans and tossed salad, so as always, this went on the table very quickly.

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Hopefully you enjoyed the free Simple Meals Planning Packet!

I’d love all of you to take advantage of the Simple Meals Subscription offer! Just think. A complete menu plan and grocery list will land in your inbox every single week, along with a bunch of bonus tips and recipes. Your small investment (which we promise to make very, very worth it) will save you so much time, energy, and money every week! You won’t have to think about what to cook. Bliss. And the meal suggestions are incredibly simple, yet detailed to make everything easy for you.

Don’t forget there’s a $10 off coupon waiting for you here, plus over $60 worth of freebies that are yours after your purchase. That means you get more in freebies than the cost of your entire yearly subscription. Score!

Simple Meals is a ridiculously good offer. (We made it super affordable for all! Less than $1 per week!) Can’t wait to have you join us!

Join Simple Meals Here.

Today I Give a FREE New Simple Meals Plan to Everyone!

This week is going to be a fun one, and here’s why:

I’m giving everyone this week’s Simple Meals plan for FREE!

(Also, I’m going to blog this week about how I’m using the plan. Stay tuned!)

Why am I giving this week’s plan to you? Simple. I want you to see how great it is.

My biggest goal with Simple Meals is to help you save money, time, and energy so you can enjoy spending more time with your family. Did you catch that? It’s not just about spending more time with your family. It’s to help you ENJOY spending that time with your family.

Sometimes we get to the end of the day and we’re so exhausted that even if there is time to spend, we’re too tired to enjoy it. Been there, done that? Me too.

Each week Simple Meals plans show up in your inbox as if to say, “Here you go. Your thinking, planning, and list making have been done. Also, here are some bonus recipes and time-saving tips. You will love this week’s recipes. Now go enjoy your family.”

I'm giving everyone this week's Simple Meals plan for FREE!

I’m giving you all this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet because want everyone to see why being a part of Simple Meals is worth it! Also, I love you and it’s fun to give you free stuff. :)

So here you go.

Download this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet.

I’ve been cooking with this particular plan and taking pictures to show you during the next few days to detail how this plan works for our family. I don’t know what I would do without it, seeing as in the past eight nights in a row, we have been on the run – from meetings to Bible studies to basketball games to church activities. Plus, we spent a day helping our disabled friend move across town, I had appointments out of town one day, and our church hosted 150 kids for a youth rally all weekend, 13 of which stayed in our home for two nights.

This mama needs Simple Meals. (and a nap.)

The days with our children at home are long, but the years are short. I’m staring that reality straight in the face as my kids so suddenly have been turning into men, one right after the other. I want to enjoy putting food on the table for them, but more than that, I want to enjoy laughing at their jokes and listening/watching/cheering/praying for their work and activities and life journeys.

No matter your season in life, whether you have little bitties who require a lot of attention and care, or you have big kids you’re trying to keep up with, or you work full time, or you homeschool, or you are involved with ministries, or all of the above and more than the above – let’s do what we can to enjoy what God has given us. I believe much of this begins with keep our real food meals as simple as possible.

And that, my friends, is why I created Simple Meals.

Try it for free this week! Utilize it for YOUR specific family’s needs. That’s one of the best features of Simple Meals. The planning is done, but you can quickly organize it to suit your family’s needs for each week.

Download this week’s Simple Meals Planning Packet.

Today I’m also giving away a One Year Simple Meals Subscription!

Sign up to win in the Rafflecopter below. I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, February 8. Watch for an email sharing who the winner is!

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Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta

I’m a big believer in this: If my kids are capable of doing it, I ask them do it.

How else will they learn to clean, cook, think, be responsible, work hard, and take care of me in my old age?

That’s why I asked Malachi, our 12-year old, to put this meal together one morning. Knowing it was as easy as “dump these ingredients into the crock pot, stir it up, turn it on, then run do your math lesson” it seemed like the right thing to do. He’s learning that cooking is simple, I’m getting help around the house, and it’s amazing how cooking a meal by himself makes him stand a few inches taller while everyone eats it up with many, “Wow, this is so good” compliments.

Or maybe the kid is literally growing taller. Well yeah. But we already knew that.

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Here’s my little issue with crock pot meals that include pasta: If I have to cook the pasta ahead of time before adding it to the crock pot, what even is the point in using the crock pot? How does that save any time? It certainly dirties up more dishes. I am not okay with this.

Therefore I never make pasta dishes in the crock pot. (Nor do I have my children make them.)

But recently I did a little looking online to see how it might work to dump uncooked pasta into a crock pot. Might it cook along with the other ingredients? A little experimenting turned out this Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta recipe, which is as easy as can be.

Now, this is a meatless meal. You’re more than welcome to stir cooked hamburger or cooked chicken into your crock pot. But then, of course, you’d have to cook the meat first, which means dirtying up another dish, and I refuse to take responsibility for making you do that. Also, you should know that my family full of carnivores ate this and never once asked, “Hey. Where’s the meat?” I think the three cheeses in this recipe make this hearty enough to keep everyone happy.

Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta

Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (25-32 ounces each)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella, cheddar, or Colby jack cheese
  • 1 pound UNCOOKED whole grain pasta, any shape
  • Sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Dump all ingredients into a crock pot and stir well.
  2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours or until pasta is tender.

Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta

Serve this easy crock pot dish with a quick salad and steamed veggie. It’s as simple as can be. I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s delicious. This is a given. And now we know that we can dump uncooked pasta into the crock pot and turn out a great meal in just a few of effortless hours.

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

We’d love more of you to join Simple Meals! There are some exciting plans coming up!

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Simple Overnight Melt-in-your-Mouth Beef Roast

Remember the Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken recipe I shared? That’s becoming one of my new go-to recipes to help me feed my family on busy days. This, of course, led me to experiment more with the idea. What else, I wondered, could be cooked in the crock pot overnight to make my day simpler tomorrow? Well. One result this Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast.

Simple Overnight Beef Roast

Just like the chicken, you can put your roast into your crock pot directly from the freezer. It thaws and cooks overnight. The next day, the meat will fall apart and melt in your mouth!

Why would we want to cook meat in our crock pots overnight? Let me count the ways:

  • When we wake up to cooked meat, we have something good to pack for lunches if that is a need.
  • We can turn the crock pot to the “keep warm” setting and have meat waiting for us later at lunch time at home.
  • We can turn off the crock pot and cool the meat to eat in big chef salads at lunch time.
  • We can put the meat in the fridge to pull out any time we need it during the next few days.

The concept is so simple, and it presents so many easy meal options!

Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

Simple Overnight Melt-in-your-Mouth Beef Roast
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound beef roast
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix (recipe below)
  • ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Put roast in the bottom of a crock pot. (Roast can be frozen or thawed.)
  2. Pour Worcestershire sauce, Onion Soup Mix, and water over the roast.
  3. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Here’s my Onion Soup Mix recipe.

Simple Overnight Melt in your Mouth Beef Roast

This roast is delicious no matter if you serve it with mashed potatoes and veggies or if you serve it in a chef salad. The flavor is incredible!!

Have you tried cooking meat in a crock pot overnight? What has your experience been like?

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

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Simple Pizza Chicken Bake

Once again, a Simple Recipe saves the day. Three cheers for Simple Pizza Chicken Bake! (Hip, hip…okay, let’s just get to the recipe.)

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Truth: I have been too busy to cook lately. Why? Well, for one thing, I’ve been quite occupied by writing about how to put simple meals on the table.

Do not miss the irony of this.

Oh my dears. We hosted people for Thanksgiving, then turned right around and traveled to Kansas. We arrived home a few days later happy and tired, and very behind on all of our work. We began to play catch up while getting ready for Christmas and finishing up our kids’ semester of school work. Our youngest has been in our big downtown Christmas play, so we’ve been running to practices and performances and hosting family who came into town to watch. We hosted Christmas parties for two groups of college students, and enjoyed a big basketball triangular in town with the team our two middle boys are involved with.

Did I mention we’re getting ready to drive to California to see family at Christmastime?

All this fun in the midst of trying to keep up with everyday life has threatened to push me into the next level of crazy-head. (No one wants to see what that looks like.) So when Matt got home from his current job site one day last week and asked how he could help with dinner, I looked up from my computer (where I was editing a post about keeping dinner simple) and said, “I’ve been too busy writing about how to put food on the table easily to actually get food on the table. I love you. I’m hungry. Malachi needs to leave for practice in 15 minutes.”

Fun times. I have no recollection of what we actually ate that night. But no one starved, and I think I’m back on track this week to at least have the brain power to throw something in the crock pot or oven at a reasonable time.

Keep this new Simple Recipe in your back pocket. It truly is a no-brainer, and maybe it’s just me, but I think we can all use no-brainer recipes this time of year and always.

Simple Pizza Chicken BakeYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Pizza Chicken Bake
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 14 ounces pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 ounces sliced pepperoni
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken into thin strips and spread them into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Spread pizza sauce over the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Top with pepperoni.
  5. Bake, uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

simple-pizza-chicken-bake

I’m happy to report that the work I was behind on is almost caught up, and the work I’m trying to get ahead on is coming along at a nice pace. I got to a good enough point a few days ago that I told Matt, “Hey, I think I’ll be able to go to California with you for Christmas after all.” Now here’s hoping he gets all his work done so he can go too.

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals, we invite you to come aboard! We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

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Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick (naturally gluten free)

I experimented with these Chicken Cheeseballs on a whim. It was a simple recipe and I figured chicken and cheese – sure, they’ll probably be pretty good. Pretty good? I should say so! I turned right around (did the hokey-pokey) and made these again three days later. These cheesy little meatballs are incredible!

simple-chicken-cheeseballs1

The first night I pulled a batch of these out of the oven, one by one my men came into the kitchen, took a look at the meatballs, and popped one into his mouth. I think each one, in turn, said the same thing, “Whoa. What are these? These are amazing! You can make these again!” (Don’t mind if I do.) I wouldn’t say my family is very picky, and yet, when every single person in the family likes a recipe, this is a huge score.

simple-chicken-cheeseballs2

You might be wondering, like I did, “What holds these meatballs together? Don’t we need flour or bread crumbs or a bisquik type baking mix to make this recipe work? Nope. They stay together just fine even though they are made with only ground meat, cheese, and a few spices. They take only a few minutes to mix up and scoop into a pan. You can make the side dishes for your meal while they bake. AND, if you have time, you can make a double or triple batch to freeze so that all you have to do at mealtime is grab out the amount you need and bake them!

I used a scoop like this one to make these meatballs. Whoa, does that little kitchen gadget come in handy!

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs with a Kick

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce (I use Cholula)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Scoop mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until balls are nice and brown.
  4. Pour off excess grease that has accumulated before serving.

simple-chicken-cheeseballs

Use ground sausage or ground beef if you prefer in this recipe. You can use these Chicken Cheeseballs on a holiday snack buffet table, serve them for breakfast, or serve them as a main dish at dinner – they are perfectly versatile. I’m looking forward to keeping these in my freezer for quick, simple meals in the future!

More Simple RecipesYum

Simple Meals is where it’s at.

Let us do your planning for you, and don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple!

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Want to Eat Healthy? Then Stay Away From This…

Let me guess. You assume I’m going to say something about margarine. Maybe high fructose corn syrup. Crisco, perhaps?

Aww, you know me well. You know I yell about avoiding those harmful ingredients. But that’s not actually what I want to talk about today.

want-to-eat-healthy-stay-away-from-this

Today I’m not going to give you a list of do’s and don’ts about eating. Today’s advice is much simpler. It’s this:

If you want to consistently eat healthy meals and snacks, stay away from complicated recipes.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Every once in a while I meet someone who truly thrives on challenging recipes with multiple steps. But mostly I find that complicated recipes make people frustrated and overwhelmed, then they quickly give up on healthy eating and fall back into patterns of eating out and grabbing cheap, empty, convenience food.

I don’t even blame them. When I see a recipe with a long list of ingredients and a bunch of detailed instructions, my brain explodes. This, from someone who loves to cook.

Here’s a little example of what I’m talking about: Do not tell me to separate my egg whites from their yolks, whip them until they are frothy, then gently fold them into my waffle batter. No. I will not. The people need their waffles! There is life waiting for us just on the other side of breakfast and taking time to froth my egg whites is something I only do at Thanksgiving when there is meringue for a cream pie involved. Instead, I always quickly whisk my waffle ingredients together all at once – whites and yolks and all – and would you believe it? The mixture still turns out amazing waffles.

belgiun_waffles

If the kitchen is intimidating to you, if you have a busy schedule, and if you want to eat consistently healthy, day after day…

Relax and make your meals as simple as possible.

If I hadn’t figured out how to make healthy meals simple, I would have given up long ago. There really is too much to do outside the kitchen. Through the years, I’ve pared down and reshaped my cooking style so that most often our healthy meal is on the table within just 15-20 minutes. But it’s amazing how much variety we get and how nourishing our meals are.

Oven Free Summertime Meal

I credit this to the fact that I’ve restructured most of our meals to look like this:

  1. Simple main dish (often made ahead of time; sometimes quickly thrown into the crock pot earlier in the day)
  2. Tossed salad, straight from the container
  3. A steamed veggie, which at most, took five minutes of  prep work
  4. Fresh fruit, washed and if necessary, sliced

enchilada meal

See how pretty? See how simple? Not to mention all I’ve done is set out the food (still in their pans) and salad fixin’s and everyone fills their own plate. We work together to cook it, we work together to clean it up.

This is what Simple Meals are made of. They are delicious and stress-free. They are balanced. They aren’t messy. They do not require you to froth your egg whites.

If you’re into healthy eating and want to do this consistently, stick with me here. I’m constantly working to simplify my recipes and menus to save all of us time (and money, which is a lovely bonus). Find all of the hundreds of recipes I’ve shared so far here. And…

Guess what?

Oh, you’ll never guess. ;) But I did decide to let you, my friends and faithful readers, in on a secret. It’s kind of a big deal, and not only will it help families like yours and mine eat simple healthy food consistently and gain back important family time each day…

You can earn some money with this project.

All of you. For real.

I’m talking actual money that you can use to buy groceries. Or pay a bill. Or buy Christmas gifts.

That’s the icing on the cake that is completely packed full of wonderfulness.

Really, I don’t mean to tease. It’s just that the details of this project are best left to be shared once it is complete, and I’m pushing for mid-October for the big reveal. Sooooo….

Be watching for all the details to unfold within the next few weeks. In the meantime, you should do two things:

  • Enjoy all the new Simple Recipes I’ll be sharing here. I’m talking delicious, real food recipes that only require five or ten minutes of prep work.
  • Start thinking about and making a list people you know who would enjoy learning more about how to simplify life while consistently putting healthy meals on the table. People that would love more family time and less time in the kitchen. (Me! Me! I’m raising my hand!)

Family times comes first, and I’m excited to make it even easier for all of us to make this a reality!

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P.S. Here’s a little preview of a hand-painted graphic for our Simple Meals project. Would you look at that? I asked my designer to include butter.

16 Simple Recipes You Can Make in 5 Minutes

Good things come to those who wait. But good things can come to those in a hurry too, so let’s hear it for a few great recipes we can make in about 5 minutes!

Now, making these is all dependent on the fact that you have these ingredients on hand. But the ingredients are all pretty basic, so I’ll bet you do have these ingredients in your kitchen most of the time. (Cream cheese is a staple food, right?)

Let’s say you have last minute company stop by and you need a quick snack to share. Or maybe you have only a few minutes of work time before you have to head to the next thing. Here are some recipes you can quickly throw together for your favorite people to enjoy.

16-recipes-you-can-make-and-serve-in-about-5-minutes

First a quick list of recipes you can make in 5 minutes:

And now a list with all the tempting pictures that will make you want to lick your computer.

Homemade Nesquik

This is a great one because you can use it to make both chocolate milk or hot chocolate!

Homemade Nesquik

Cream Cheese Salsa Dip

supersimplechipdipsm

Caramel Apple Dip

Cream_Cheese_Apple_Dip

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

Stove-Top Granola

Coconut Fudge Bars

Coconut Fudge Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Bites

No-Bake Fudge Bites

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

No-Bake Snickerdoodle Bites

snickerdoodle bites2

Pineapple Fluff Salad

Pineapple Fluff

Pineapple Mango Smoothies

pineapple_mango_smoothie

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee or for a Bowl of Fruit

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits

chocolate cheesecake parfait

Easy Fruit Dip

strawberry_dip
French Onion Dip

french onion dip

What are some of your go-to recipes to make when you only have a few minutes to throw something together?

Cook Your Breakfast ~ Money Saving Monday

Money Saving Monday Banner

Boxes of cereal, boxes of granola bars, boxes of poptarts, boxes of donuts, boxes of muffin mix – there are so many boxy choices.  You’re probably assuming that I’m about to tell you that all the food that comes from a box is not very good for you.  But I won’t say that.  Nope, I’ll just purse my lips and produce a forced smile because I’m not going to tell you about the dangers of eating all those preservatives and additives and empty calories that give you no energy and keep you from concentrating all morning.  After all, that would be a run-on sentence.

Instead, I’m here to express the joy of how making your own healthy, real food, preservative-free breakfast will save you lots of money.

I spent about 10 minutes on Saturday making 20 cups of Homemade Instant Oatmeal.  This is huge money savings, in about 10 minutes.  (It’s also healthier than what comes in a box, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.)

I spent about 30 minutes on Saturday mixing up three different kinds of wholesome muffins for the freezer.  This is huge money savings, in about 30 minutes.  (It’s also healthier than what comes in a box, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.)

My family can polish off 2-3 boxes of cereal in one sitting, easily.  That can add up to being a $12 breakfast, and that doesn’t include the milk and fruit.  Plus cereal only keeps them full for about two hours.

See, making a homemade breakfast does more than just save money.  It satisfies my family’s need for nourishment, so they are full longer and are able to concentrate on their school work all morning.  This must be because the breakfast is healthier, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today.

TIP:  Make breakfast the night before.  I do this almost every day, making our mornings go so much more smoothly!

100+ Money Saving (and Healthy, shh!) Breakfast Recipes

You will find 90 real food breakfast recipes on my Bread and Breakfast page.  I add more to it all the time.  There are so many great breakfast options!

90+ Real Food Breakfast Recipes

We also have a free eBook for you:  Healthy Breakfast Made Simple.  Download and enjoy!

breakfast_e-book cover_sm

Or, it’s as simple as scrambling or frying an egg, making a smoothie, or spreading natural peanut butter on toast.  Make a homemade breakfast!!  You will save all kinds of cash (and feel better too, but we’re supposedly not talking about that today).

What are your favorite homemade breakfast foods to make?