Monday Meal: Quick and Hearty Dinners for On the Go Families

Red Carnations in the KitchenWe keep a busy schedule at our house. For the past almost 6 years I’ve made a point of having something planned for my daughter and I to do outside of the house every day. Now that she’s in Kindergarten everyday, too … well, dinner tends to get squeezed in somewhere between 6:30 p.m. and bedtime. I’m sure it’s pretty similar in your household!

Family Dinner Builds Family Ties
My husband and I are committed to having a sit-down family dinner each night because we feel it’s important to have that time time to talk about our day and reconnect with each other. In order to get that time, though, we often fall back on our favorite quick meals that don’t require a lot of preparation and cooking, but are hearty and filling.

Here are two of our favorite go-to meals. What I particularly like as that both of these dinners are easy for our daughter to help put together. As she grows, she can get more involved with the cooking, as well as the assembling.

RECIPE 1: Quick and Hearty Cottage Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 bag mixed frozen veggies (peas, carrots, lima beans, corn)
2 pkgs homestyle mashed potatoes
Italian seasoning
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and season with Italian seasoning to your taste. Add the frozen veggie mix and heat through. Spread the beef mixture over the bottom of a casserole dish. Generously top with mashed potatoes, then sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

RECIPE 2: Black Bean and Mashed Potato Burritos

2 cans seasoned black beans
1 pkg mashed potatoes (whichever flavor your family prefers; The potatoes can also be replaced with brown rice)
1 pkg soft tortillas (The large burrito size in the flavor of your choice)
Shredded cheese
Optional: diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, diced cucumber, etc.

Heat the black beans on the stove and microwave the mashed potatoes. Each person can fill their tortilla with black beans, mashed potatoes, shredded cheese and optional toppings, then fold like a burrito.

** What I like about both of these meals is that you can make them from scratch if you have the time. With an extra half hour, you can make your own homestyle mashed potatoes, and/or substitute the frozen veggie mix for seasonal fresh veggies you chop yourself.

Share with us: What is your family’s favorite go-to meal?

Nikki married her husband Bill nearly 14 years ago, and in 2007 as late-in-life parents, they welcomed their daughter Emma, now 5. A graduate of Missouri University, Nikki spent 16 years working professionally as a graphic designer before moving from Knoxville, TN to Tampa Bay to support her husband's career and embrace full-time motherhood. This stay-at-home mom doesn't spend a lot of time at home, though; she's always searching for fun ways to make memories with her daughter each day. She'll help you and your family find memory-making family events to enjoy in and around the Bay area on her blog, What's Doing? Tampa Bay. Find her on Facebook, Pinterest. and follow her on Twitter.