Meal Cheats for Busy Households

We had a super wet October – record breaking levels of rain for some places, flood stage river levels, Disaster Declaration for some counties…it’s been bad. We also had a random cold front blow through and had 40-45* temperatures for four days toward the end of the month. It is way too early to be having that kind of cold in Central Texas, but I’m hopeful that it means an ACTUAL winter that last more than the usual two or three weeks!

All of the weather played perfectly into my menu for last month: we had eight different types of soup last month. Yup. Every Tuesday was soup day plus a few other random days of chili, chicken and dumplings, etc. If you missed the post with my favorite soup recipes, you can head back to check it out.

When I look at menu planning, the number one thing I consider before confirming a meal is what else is going on that day. Are we rushing off to an appointment? Who has practice? How much time will I have to throw it all together? On Wednesdays, our older two have youth group activities before Bible class and the rest of us take dinner to eat with my husband’s grandmother. This means the last of us get home around 4:30 and we need to leave the house by 5:00. Wednesday’s are crock pot days.

Mondays are InstantPot day. We literally have one hour after school that we are all in the house together before the older two go to Bible study, and then the middle one heads to tumbling class. I don’t want to spend the bulk of that time cooking dinner. I have really enjoyed getting more comfortable with the InstantPot and wanted to share a few of the recipes that our family really likes, as well as a couple that have been lifesavers for me and quick meal prep needs!

Since I found all of these recipes on Pinterest, I’m just going to link you to their original site. You can check out some of the other great recipes I’ve found here.

Family Favorites:

Baked Potato Soup: Yes, this one is going on the list again. It’s worth it. One thing I did not note on the last post is that it will be super thick when you reheat it so I would recommend some heavy cream or milk to thin it out without losing the richness.

Butter Ranch Pork Chops: Anything that my middle child asks for seconds of automatically goes into my “keep” file! She is not very adventurous with new foods so anytime I say “I found a new recipe!” she gets suspicious. She ate two of these pork chops. I have found that the thicker cuts work better than thinner, bone-in chops

Creamy Taco Pasta: See above comment about the middle child – she ate three bowls…and took some for lunch the next day. This recipe falls somewhere in the hamburger helper family of meals, but taco flavored. This one will make an appearance again next month.

Beef and Broccoli: This is a great recipe, but makes a smaller amount than most of the IP recipes I’ve found. I doubled it when I made it last month and it was enough for the four of us to get full, but there were no leftovers.

Time Saving Recipes:

Chicken Thighs: Day didn’t go the way you thought? Need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes? Here you go! I will now always and forever keep a pack of chicken thighs in the freezer just to use this recipe. Best part, this link includes information for fresh or frozen, bone-in or boneless thighs!

Chicken Breast: These two pins have saved me multiple times in the last few months! If the chicken is thawed, I use this recipe. If they are still frozen, follow this set of instructions.

How does your family schedule affect your menu planning? What are your favorite go-to quick meals?

Happy Planning,


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