Here’s a typical pre-kid meal scenario: my husband and I come home from working all day, crack open a cold one and meet in the kitchen to create a “quick-n-easy” meal inspired by whatever celebrity chef we happened to see on TV that week. Sounds ideal, right? Here’s the catch: it’s nine at night!
“How will we ever feed our (future) kids?” I groan over the oven-roasted rutabaga.
One toddler later, I’ve learned a few mama-tricks along the way that let us have a meal the whole family enjoys. Stock your freezer and fridge the right way and most of the hard work’s done! Here are a few things I make sure are always on hand for easy and tasty dinners.
Nature’s Rancher Fully Cooked Angus Meatballs
Just like the beef sold in our fresh meat case, these heat-and-eat meatballs are made from angus beef that comes from animals raised on ranches certified to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating program opens in a new tab. Seasoned with garlic, herbs and a hint of Romano cheese, they’re great on their own – if you have a sauce-adverse little one – but even better added to jarred pasta sauce and whole wheat pasta.
You can also drop them into your favorite veggie soup (homemade or store-bought!), make Baked Meatball Subs opens in a new tab in about 15 minutes or top pasta with "hidden" zucchini opens in a new tab.
Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
These nuggets are really hand-cut whole breast meat pieces, with no extenders or fillers. They’re lightly breaded for a crowd-pleasing crunch. And of course, the chickens are raised without antibiotics
They’re flavorful enough to eat straight up with dipping sauce opens in a new tab, or try adding them to fresh or frozen stir-fry veggies opens in a new tab for a simply delicious meal.
Nature’s Rancher Uncured Hot Dogs
Not just for cookouts! Choose from beef, pork or chicken hot dogs, all without synthetic nitrates, nitrites or preservatives. They’re made with meat from animals raised on vegetarian feed and without antibiotics or added growth hormones. (Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry.)
Eat them straight up, on a whole wheat bun, add them to macaroni and cheese opens in a new tab or make fun mini-kabobs opens in a new tab.
Print the coupon for Nature's Rancher Uncured Hot Dogs (available online until the end of August). opens in a new tab
Applegate Sliced Meats
Surprise! Lunch meat is a total dinner-saver. Perfect for soup and sandwich nights (my family likes pairing these turkey and emmentaler breakfast sandwiches opens in a new tab with tomato soup for supper), or get wacky and serve a deconstructed club sandwich on a stick opens in a new tab.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, Applegate’s sliced meats are made with meat from animals raised without antibiotics, contain no synthetic nitrates or nitrites and they’re rated to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare rating system opens in a new tab.
Print the coupon for Applegate Sliced Meats (available online until the end of August). opens in a new tab
What I appreciate about these little helpers is that they actually taste great and don’t have the icky stuff we all watch out for when it comes most quick-cooking meats – no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors or flavors, no synthetic nitrates or nitrites, no hydrogenated oils and they’re from animals raised without antibiotics.
With a few dinner tricks up my sleeve, I’m able to get my kiddo fed, bathed and in bed before nine. (Now if someone could tell me the secret getting my little night owl to actually fall sleep before nine, I’d be forever in your debt.)
What do you keep on hand to help feed your hungry family in a flash?
Feeding kids is hard. Get opens in a new tabmore recipes and ideas that will help opens in a new tab, and celebrate every tiny victory.