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Easy, Make-Ahead Dinners For Moms Who Can’t Even Wash Their Hair

Right now I’ve got a pretty full plate (pun intended): mom, wife, teacher, student… I’ve had to get creative with how we do dinners since my husband doesn’t know how to cook (something I’m working on and will share another time.) 

With three of my nights taken up with classes, I’ve started making quick, easy, make-ahead dinners to save time and sanity.

Busy mom needs 6 arms to take care of the family and create make-ahead meals for her family.

I think we can all relate to this image…

Whether you’re going back to school like I am, a working mom, or just stressed out from all the stuff you have to do at home, getting dinner ready in the moment can be a hassle. I’ve found that weekday-me really appreciates weekend-me getting stuff ready ahead of time, so easy, make-ahead dinners are a must for us. We’re a family of three, including a growing 7 year-old black hole and a manly man who works outside all day, so these recipes feed about 4-5 normal people or, you know, the 3 of us.

Here’s my list of go-to make-ahead dinners that are heated up and devoured by the family when mom’s not home (or just up to her eyeballs in other stuff to do.)

*We’re not a meat/dairy/gluten free household, but you can substitute in alternatives if you need to, like marinara sauce for the Alfredo, mushrooms or tofu for the chicken, and so on. 

Chicken Alfredo
Serves 4
With my husband being Sicilian, Italian-style dinners are always a hit.
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Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
136 calories
13 g
37 g
2 g
16 g
0 g
94 g
45 g
1 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
94g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 136
Calories from Fat 17
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
3%
Saturated Fat 0g
2%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 37mg
12%
Sodium 45mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 13g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 1g
Protein 16g
Vitamin A
5%
Vitamin C
55%
Calcium
3%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 Chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of other cut of chicken-- I usually grab what’s on sale.)
  2. 1 Package of your favorite pasta (we like the twisty egg noodles)
  3. Alfredo sauce
  4. Chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen)
  5. Shredded parmesan cheese
  6. Panko bread crumbs or crushed walnuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350℉. If your chicken breasts are thick, you can slice them in half, butterfly-style, so they cook faster. We’re going to chop them up anyway, so they don’t have to look pretty.
  2. Sprinkle some olive oil and oregano/basil/herb-of-choice on them and stick those babies in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  3. While those are cooking, go ahead and boil your water for the pasta (make sure you add some oil and salt to the water.) Add the pasta once the water boils and cook for about 8 minutes (depending on what type of pasta you use).
  4. While you’re patiently waiting for the water to get rolling, get out a casserole pan (with or without a lid) and go ahead and put your chopped broccoli and a little of your alfredo sauce in it.
  5. Once the noodles are done you can drain them and pour them over the broccoli-- stir in the rest of the sauce.
  6. When your chicken is all cooked (aka no pink in the center) chop it up and scatter it over the noodle mixture.
  7. Now you can sprinkle the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs/walnuts over the top for some crunch.
  8. Let it cool down and put the lid/plastic wrap/aluminum foil on it-- stick it in the fridge for an easy dinner the next day or in the freezer for later in the week.
Reheating instructions
  1. Cover with aluminum foil and heat for 20-30 minutes at 350℉ (add about 15 more minutes if frozen) or scoop out some on a plate and microwave for about a minute. You don’t have to be too cautious about the internal temperature, since the chicken should be cooked fully ahead of time.
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calories
136
fat
2g
protein
16g
carbs
13g
more
Burlington VT Moms Blog http://www.citymomsblog.com/
Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 4
My husband loves this recipe. He even learned recently how to make my simple dinner rolls with it, which is the last recipe in this list. You can totally substitute the meat for something else, ground turkey or more veggies, too.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
796 calories
93 g
114 g
28 g
47 g
11 g
745 g
324 g
17 g
0 g
15 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
745g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 796
Calories from Fat 254
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g
44%
Saturated Fat 11g
54%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 114mg
38%
Sodium 324mg
13%
Total Carbohydrates 93g
31%
Dietary Fiber 14g
57%
Sugars 17g
Protein 47g
Vitamin A
292%
Vitamin C
106%
Calcium
19%
Iron
36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. Ground beef/turkey/pork (you can use a mixture if you want to add a little flavor)
  2. 1 Chopped sweet onion
  3. Salt n peppa
  4. Herbs of your choice (like parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme)
  5. ½ Cup of stock (can be chicken, beef, or veggie)
  6. ¼ Cup of flour
  7. 2 Cups corn, carrots, and peas (canned, frozen, or fresh) and whatever other veggies you want
  8. 4 Medium potatoes
  9. Shredded cheddar or cheese of your choice- enough to cover the top
Instructions
  1. Start off by chopping up your potatoes into about 1 inch chunks, cover with water in a pot and bring to a boil. You’ll cook these until they’re soft.
  2. While those are cooking, brown your meat in a pan, adding your chopped onions once you get your meat mostly cooked. Don’t drain your pan when you’re finished with the meat! We’ll use all that yummy stuff to make some gravy.
  3. Now, take your casserole dish and put the meat/onion mixture in the bottom and mix in your veggies and seasonings.
  4. Once you’ve done that, add your stock to the pan, getting all the little bits from the meat stirred around. When that’s heated, gradually add the flour, making sure you’re constantly stirring with a whisk or a gravy whisk (I love mine, it’s amazing!)
  5. Once it thickens, pour it over your meat/veggie mixture.
  6. Hopefully your potatoes are cooked so that they break apart easily with a fork. Add in about a tablespoon of butter and ¼ cup of milk (or however your prefer to make mashed potatoes) and smush them up. You can either use a fork for super chunky potatoes, or a masher/beater for a smoother texture.
  7. Spread it over the meat/veggies in the casserole dish and then cover it with cheese.
  8. At this point you’re done, so cover it, let it cool, and stick it in the fridge.
Notes
  1. Once it’s time to re-heat, just put it in for about 30 minutes to heat @ 350, so it gets hot all the way through and enjoy!
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calories
796
fat
28g
protein
47g
carbs
93g
more
Burlington VT Moms Blog http://www.citymomsblog.com/
Chili
Serves 6
This one’s especially great in those winter months when you get home after dark and want to just pass out on the couch. As with most chilis, the longer you leave it in the crock-pot, the better. I make mine Texas-style with steak, but you can substitute any meat or protein in for it. I usually set mine cooking overnight, since I’m super paranoid about leaving it on while I’m gone for 10+ hours a day, but you can live life on the edge if you want to…
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
188 calories
11 g
59 g
6 g
22 g
2 g
167 g
139 g
4 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
167g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 188
Calories from Fat 55
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 2g
12%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 59mg
20%
Sodium 139mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates 11g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 4g
Protein 22g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
3%
Iron
10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1lb. Steak (tips or slice up your favorite cut)
  2. 1 huge can of tomato sauce (29 oz.) or diced/stewed tomatoes
  3. 1 can black/red/whatever beans (15 oz.)
  4. 1 can corn (15 oz.)
  5. 1 diced sweet onion
  6. Seasonings: either a pre-made mix or you can make your own with chili flakes, paprika, salt, pepper, whatever-- get crazy.
Instructions
  1. Okay, so here’s a really, really, complicated step-- dump everything in your crockpot. Even the corn/bean juice. Seriously.
  2. Set it on high for about 2 hours, then switch to low for however long you need it.
  3. If you can’t be around for those first 2 hours, just set it cooking on low and check that the meat got all cooked through before you shut it off and eat it.
  4. And, if you don’t have a crock pot and can’t go out to get one right now, you can cook this on the stove. Just make sure you keep an eye on it-- start off medium-high and then turn it down to medium-low after those first 2 hours. Make sure you keep it stirred so the bottom doesn’t get overcooked.
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calories
188
fat
6g
protein
22g
carbs
11g
more
Burlington VT Moms Blog http://www.citymomsblog.com/
Easy Peasy Yeast Dinner Rolls *dairy free!*
Yields 24
We absolutely love these rolls. This recipe makes about 2 dozen or so, depending on how small you make your rolls. They’re non-dairy with only 5 ingredients. Your prep time is about a half hour, with cook time of 10-15 minutes. The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, so you can always make them the night before. They go great with all the recipes listed above!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
55 calories
9 g
0 g
1 g
2 g
0 g
23 g
1 g
1 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
23g
Yields
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 55
Calories from Fat 12
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 9g
3%
Dietary Fiber 1g
2%
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
0%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 Packet (2 ¼ tablespoons) of quick rise yeast
  2. 1 Tablespoon sugar/honey/maple syrup/sweetener of your choice
  3. 1 Cup warm water (around 100℉- too hot will kill the yeast)
  4. 2 Tablespoons oil (olive, canola, or whatever- I haven’t tried coconut oil, but I think it would work in liquid form)
  5. 2 Cups flour (I use bread flour to make them super fluffy)
Instructions
  1. First, put your yeast, sweetener, and warm water in a large mixing bowl. I usually use my stand mixer with the dough hook, but you can mix it by hand if you need the extra upper-body workout.
  2. Let that sit for 10 minutes (covered) until it gets all foamy brown.
  3. Next, add your oil and gradually mix in the flour until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl and makes a giant dough ball-- I usually let it go on medium speed for about 2 minutes to get good and mixed. If it’s still sticking to the sides you can sprinkle some more flour in the bowl.
  4. Now comes the fun part. You want to get some extra flour around the ball so you can handle it without getting your hands all sticky. I like to use my giant cutting board dusted with flour so I don’t get my counter all gross and dirty. My mom wets her counter down and covers it with saran wrap for easy clean up.
  5. Anyway, go ahead and cut the dough into about 2 dozen sections of the same size and make little balls. If you’re feeling really creative, you can stretch each ball out and make little pretzel knots or fun shapes with it.
  6. Put them in a pan pretty close together so they connect while baking. You can grease the pan or use parchment paper (my favorite thing ever!)
  7. Let it sit and rise in a warm-ish place for another 10 minutes. To do this, you can heat up your oven on the lowest setting and stick a bowl of boiling water under the pan for super fluffy rolls if you want.
  8. This is the time you can either cover the pan and refrigerate, or go ahead and bake them at 425℉ for 10-15 minutes until the tops are brown.
  9. Just smother them in your favorite butter (you can use margarine or vegan butter for a dairy-free option) and stuff your face.
Notes
  1. If you do refrigerate them, make sure you let them sit out for about 10 minutes before you stick them in the oven (you can use the warm oven technique again to get them really fluffy).
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calories
55
fat
1g
protein
2g
carbs
9g
more
Burlington VT Moms Blog http://www.citymomsblog.com/
 I know none of these recipes are earth shattering, but I hope I’ve helped all you crazy busy moms out there see that just because dinner needs to be done in a rush or even heated up by someone else, doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and even fancy at times. It’s all about balance and planning– something that makes my life a whole lot easier.

Go check out some previous blog posts about making dinner “out of thin air” or the many uses for Bays English Muffins and feel free to leave your own recipes below! I can always use more ideas.

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