As part of a video recording, I was asked how I encouraged the boys (henceforth known as the little weasels) to come to the dinner table. Without missing a beat, the 10 year-old piped up that ‘Mommy just puts it on a plate and brings it down to us in front of the TV.” ^Mortified. But also… kind of true. We try to have at least three meals a week around the table but sometimes that path of least resistance reigns. Everyone always praises family dinners, but as I grew up an only child with parents who would quickly divorce, the ‘family dinner’ was often laboured, strained and uncomfortable. Maybe my childhood angst is now being brought to my own table.
This is a fresh salad with clean and bright flavours. For the best flavour, let the salad stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
There’s nothing quite like pleasing your whole family with a meal you made in about 3 minutes. As part of our new ‘taco Tuesday’ tradition I pulled out the slow cooker and created a healthy, bean-filled chili that cooked all day. Though you could use dry beans, we had cans on hand. Grated cheese, Old El Paso-spiced sour cream (the spice is in the taco kit), salsa and cilantro were all available so the kids could choose their own toppings for the mexican crockpot chili tacos.
1/2 pound lean ground beef (optional)
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can baked beans in tomato sauce
1 diced green pepper
1 diced onion
1 package Old El Paso sauce included in the taco kit
pinch salt and pepper
1 t chili powder
1/2 t cinnamon
Open cans. Dice veggies. Throw it all in. Cook on low for 6 hours. Voila!
Disclosure – I am participating in the Old El Paso Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills, and received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Feeding a family can get pretty expensive. If you’re not a great menu planner, here are a few ideas of healthful dinners that won’t break the bank. If you have other cheap dinner ideas to add, please give us suggestions in the comments!
1. A Baked Potato Bar if a great interactive family affair. Each person can choose toppings, including sour cream, chives, bacon, cheese, chili, and baked beans.
2. Pancit is a traditional Filipino dish that helps extend meat portions with the use of noodles and vegetables.
3. Homemade Pizza is fun to make as a team and if you don’t want to make the dough, there are loads of ready-made pizza shells on the market. Spread pizza sauce on the shells and let your little chefs become ‘pizza doctors’.
4. Fish tacos using grilled frozen basa filets are healthy and economical. Much like the baked potto bar, each family member can choose how to assemble their taco. Tomatoes, salsa, cheese, greens and sauces all add spice and depth of flavor (as well as extending the more expensive fish part of the meal)
5. Puff pastry filled with bean/lentil salad is nutritious and great for the family budget.
6. French onion soup isn’t difficult to make. We cook the onions for over an hour in olive oil with a piece of waxed paper covering them at the bottom of the saucepan. Add beef stock, some stale French bread round s and grated cheese. Voila.
7. Crepes filled with hotdogs and tomato sauce for the kids and something a little more interesting for you are great to have on hand.
8. Turkey a la king is simple and extends your holiday dinner leftovers. Served with egg noodles it is a budget-friendly option.
9. Spaghetti bolognaise (make the sauce in bulk when ground beef is on sale and freeze in portions.)
10. Pulled pork sliders – do it in the crock pot for an easy and tasty meal.
I was given the opportunity to try the new McCain Harvest Splendour Medleys and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Typically, I like to do as much as possible from ‘scratch’, but with my husband away for 10 days, continuing to run a business, and essentially single-parenting 2 boys under 6, I decided to call in some assistance. Not nannies, though that would have also been a wise choice. I hit my grocery store and took the plunge. Prepared frozen foods. I started with a brand I know: McCain’s. Try McCain Harvest Splendour Medley for a great family dinner, without the drudge work!
Yields 4 servings.
2 cups fettuccine noodles
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
½ cup sliced onions
½ cup chopped green bell peppers
½ cup chopped red bell peppers
1 ½ cups sliced button mushrooms
1 ½ cups quarter chopped artichoke hearts (canned)
¼ cup white wine
2 cups raw spinach
1 ½ cups Stock Up Vegetable Stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 fresh chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh basil