These recipes originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Back-to-school means back to routines and bidding farewell to the lazy days of summer, but the transition need not be daunting with this month’s quick, simple, and kid-friendly dinner recipes. There is plenty of research documenting the benefits of regular family dinners together. Children and adolescents stand to benefit the most from building strong relationships, feeling a sense of belonging, creating better eating habits, and greater nutrition that leads to better grades. Yet reports reveal 40 percent of American families eat together less than three times a week. When we lose control of our kitchen, we tend to sacrifice relationships, nutrition, budget, and time.
So if we agree nightly dinner together is a critical part of our family’s well-being, what’s stopping us from meeting this challenge? Current culture indicates demanding careers, over-scheduled children’s activities, and screen time to be the culprit. Maybe it’s time we change the norm and circle back to recover what’s being lost. What if we invested in our family’s mind, body, and soul by prioritizing regular family dinners together during this school year?
I faced this challenge several years ago and realized I needed a plan. My goals were to cultivate quality family time each day, increase nutrition, decrease food budget, and save time by eliminating multiple trips to the grocery store. With calendar in hand, I scheduled the evenings we had out-of-home obligations, date nights, or travel. The remaining dates were circled to plan an at-home family dinner, which averaged 21 days per month. Hence, the appropriately named 21-Dinner Rotation plan was born. What will yours be called?
Every family has favorite meals they enjoy. Encourage your family’s excitement around the table by adding favorite recipes from my 21-Dinner Rotation menu calendar. (Go to ournewlywedkitchen.com/recipes-printables). Each month try a new recipe and have everyone vote. All thumbs up means this recipe is added to your 21-Dinner Rotation binder. Dividing recipes seasonally in your binder saves time with meal planning and also creates variety. On your menu calendar, position the quick and easy 30-minute meals on weekdays and the fun, entertaining meals on the weekend. Tape the menu calendar inside the pantry door for everyone to view. I found our family began looking forward to our time together, their favorite foods, and no longer asked the once dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”
“Don’t let a busy schedule halt dinner plans. Tortellini Soup is a year-round favorite
and ready quicker than you can order at a fast-food restaurant.”
3 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
20 oz. Tortellini pasta (refrigerated or frozen, three-cheese or meat-filled)
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with liquid
4 scallions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. dried basil
10 oz. bag of fresh spinach
Parmesan cheese, shaved (as garnish)
In a Dutch oven, bring broth to a boil. Add Tortellini and the next four ingredients. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook according to Tortellini package directions. Time will vary per refrigerated or frozen. Turn off heat when pasta is done. Stir spinach into pot and allow it to wilt. Serve in bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Taco Salad with Spoon Bread
“This meal pulls together in about 30 minutes for a quick and easy, kid-friendly meal.
Invite some friends over and make it a party.”
1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 head iceberg lettuce or box of spring mix
Cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 tomatoes (diced)
1 onion (diced)
14.5 oz. can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 bag tortilla chips
In a cast-iron skillet, brown beef over medium-high heat. Add taco seasoning and fold in. When fully cooked turn off heat and allow meat to cool. In a large serving bowl, layer and then toss the next five ingredients. Serve taco beef, tortilla chips, and dressing on the side, allowing family or guests to self serve according to their preference. Makes 6-8 servings.
Spoon Bread Ingredients
2 boxes Jiffy® cornbread
2 14.5 oz. canned corn
14.5 oz. creamed corn
8 oz. sour cream
Spoon Bread Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Prepare a nine-by-thirteen-inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour in ingredients. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature with Taco Salad. Makes 6-8 servings.
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