This recipe actually resulted from an accident. I planned on making a chicken pot pie for dinner and had already started making the filling when I realized that I didn’t have any pie crusts in the fridge. I added some egg noodles to my chicken mixture, planning to make chicken soup, but then my husband called and said he wanted something really hearty for dinner because he was starving. Soup does not fit into his definition of hearty, so I thickened it up, poured it into a casserole dish, topped it with crackers, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. It turned out really good and I’ve made it a few more times since then for an easy weeknight dinner.
Here’s the recipe:
3 chicken breasts
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
6 cups water
1/2 bag egg noodles
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
2 sleeves butter crackers
1/2 stick butter or margarine
Place chicken breasts in water in a large pot with spices and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat, cover, and cook until chicken is done.
Remove chicken breasts and bay leaves from broth. Shred chicken breasts and return to the broth.
Add the bag of frozen vegetables and bring to a boil.
When the mixture is boiling, add half a bag of egg noodles.
Boil for 7-10 minutes (until the egg noodles are done).
Reduce heat to low.
Mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1 cup of self-rising flour in a large measuring cup. Whisk well so there are no lumps.
Pour milk and flour mixture into the chicken and noodle mixture and stir well.
Cook on low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken.
Grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter or margarine. Spoon in chicken and noodle mixture and spread evenly in the pan.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl. Crush 2 sleeves of crackers into the melted butter and stir well.
Pour crackers over the noodle mixture and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of parsley on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until cracker crust is golden brown.
I’m going to begin this post with a confession…tonight (THURSDAY) is the first night this week that I have actually cooked a real meal. It has just been one of those weeks. I forgot to lay out some meat to thaw on Monday and Jeff ended up running by the grocery store to get some pre-made chicken fingers because I could cook them in a hurry. On Tuesday, by the time I got home from the gym, I just didn’t feel like cooking and we ended up eating hot dogs. Yesterday, I went to my parents’ house and stayed late so my brother could see Jack when he got off work, so I picked up take-out on the way home. It has been a long, crazy week, and even though I love to cook, it has been tough to get in the kitchen and create healthy meals this week.
I think this is a pretty common problem. All of us are busy. We run around from one place to the other, we get home late, and we just want something to eat that tastes good and makes our families happy. So how are we supposed to get a healthy, home cooked meal on the table in the midst of our busy lives? It is possible, and the key is planning ahead.
I know that meal planning is hard. It takes organization. It takes time, which is something that is in short supply for most of us. And sometimes, no matter how well we plan, life still gets crazy and we pick up fast food or scarf down junk food because it’s fast, easy, and we’re stressed (or maybe I’m the only stress eater out there…but I doubt that).
Meal planning can feel like a hassle, but it is worth it, and here’s why: if you have a plan and have invested time and money into it, you are more likely to follow through with it. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to cook healthy meals every night this week.” It’s a totally different thing to plan out those meals, shop for the ingredients you’ll need to make those meals, and prep those ingredients so that putting the meal together when you get home is quick and easy. When you know that you can toss a good, healthy meal together in 15 minutes because you have prepared for your crazy busy life, then you might not give in to the temptation to swing by the drive-thru on your way home.
I haven’t been doing a lot of meal planning while I’ve been out on maternity leave, but I go back to work next week and I know that our lives are about to get even crazier because of that. I’m starting my meal planning for next week today, and I will complete small tasks between now and then to help my week get off to a good start.
Do you need help planning your meals for the week? Follow along with me as I create my meal plan and learn how to create a meal plan without spending hours and hours worrying about what’s going to be on your plate (because we’re trying to SAVE time here, not add a major thing to our to-do list).
I’m breaking down meal planning into four easy steps, When you think about each one, they are probably things that you already do each week. The key is doing these things with purpose:
Inventory your kitchen.
Find recipes and create your plan.
Shop for and prepare your ingredients.
Make use of your leftovers.
Tonight, I’m going over Step One: Inventory your kitchen.
This is always the first thing I do when I begin to meal plan. I try to be a smart shopper and stock up on items when they are on sale, so instead of heading straight to the store I always check my pantry and freezer first to see what ingredients I have on hand already.
I have been stocking up on meat as it has been on sale, so my freezer is pretty full. My pantry is looking a little lean because we were on a Whole 30 last month (which pretty much eliminates all processed foods) and we’ve been buying lots of perishable things like fruits and veggies.
Here’s what I already have in my fridge this week:
One package of chicken thighs
One bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
One chuck roast
2 one pound packages of ground chuck
One pork roast
One pack of boneless pork chops
2 packs of bacon
1 bag of frozen broccoli
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 bag of frozen rolls
I know that is a lot of meat to have on hand, but I have been trying to only buy meat when it is on sale and keep it in the freezer instead of being at the mercy of the grocery store because I NEED a certain protein when it isn’t on sale (because meat is expensive, y’all).
In my pantry, I have the following staples that could be used for creating meals:
Now that I know what I have on hand, I can start to plan my meals. I always start with the protein that I am going to be cooking with. This week, I have a good assortment of beef, chicken, and pork. I like to rotate my proteins (so we don’t have chicken every single night), and I have some really good options with waht I already have.
Now that I have taken inventory, I can begin Step Two: Find Recipes and Create a Plan.
Tomorrow, I will be sharing how I create my plan for the week and some great resources for finding easy, healthy recipes.
If you are new to meal planning, make sure to follow me through this series. If you follow each day’s step along with me on the blog, you will have a solid plan for your week next week! I’d love for you to follow along and let me know what you plan and how it goes for you!
This recipe is a staple at our house. It’s easy to toss everything in my slow cooker before I go to work and it’s perfectly tender and has the house smelling amazing when we get home. It’s incredibly easy to do, requires almost no prep, and just does it’s thing in the slow cooker without me having to do anything. On a busy weekday, that’s definitely a win in my book!
One 2-3 lb chuck roast
4 medium russet potatoes, cubed
2 handfuls baby carrots
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup beef broth
Place the chuck roast in the slow cooker. If you want it to cook faster, you can cut it into smaller pieces.
Season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Top with carrots, cubed potatoes, and sliced onion.
Pour in 1/4 cup beef broth (or you can use water, but it won’t have as much flavor).
Cook on low for 8-9 hours OR on high for 4-5 hours, until potatoes and carrots are fork tender and meat can be easily shredded with a fork.
This reheats really well, and I usually have a couple days worth of leftovers when I cook a roast this size. I use leftovers for an easy lunch or use them to make sandwiches or my Shredded Beef Stuffed Baked Potatoes.
Jeff absolutely loves eggs, and our typical weekend brunch usually consists of my bacon, egg, and cheese crescents, or scrambled eggs with bacon, or (my favorite) pancakes with a side of eggs for Jeff. Since we’re doing Whole30, the crescents and pancakes are not allowed and we’ve had bacon and eggs the last two weekends, so I wanted to try something new.
I made this turkey sausage and spinach egg bake for Jeff and reserved some of the sausage for me (because I’m not a big egg fan). I served it up with a quick salad and it was the perfect start to a lazy weekend. Check out the recipes below!
Turkey Sausage and Spinach Egg Bake
1 lb ground turkey sausage
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 cup spinach
6 large eggs
In a skillet, sauté the diced onions in about a tablespoon of avacado oil for about 3 minutes over medium high heat (until they begin to become transparent).
Add the turkey sausage to the onions and cook until browned (5 to 7 minutes).
Drain sausage and onion mixture on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Spray a cast iron skillet with avacado oil and toss in the spinach. Spoon the turkey sausage mixture over the spinach.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper together. Make sure to break up all the yolks.
Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and spinach.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the eggs are cooked through and set up.
Spinach, Walnut, and Apple Salad
1 cup spinach
1 gala apple, cubed
1 snack sized box of raisins
1 tablespoon police oil
Handful of toasted walnuts
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, apples, raisins, red onion, and walnuts.
Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon over the salad. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Toss greens to coat in the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.
I made zucchini noodles today and now I am wondering why it took me so long to try them. They were amazing! I could replace spaghetti with zucchini noodles forever and not miss it one bit. Also, they were incredibly easy and cooked super fast. This meal came together so quickly that I barely felt like I had cooked, but it was really tasty and Jeff gave it his stamp of approval. That’s always a win. Check out the recipes below:
Simply the Best Baked Chicken
I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this, but you could absolutely use bone-in chicken. You’d just need to adjust your cooking time. Usually bone-in chicken tends to take a little longer to cook. Just make sure that the juices are running clear when you puncture the chicken to be sure it is done.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp avacado oil
In a skillet, heat the avacado oil over medium high heat until warm. Make sure to swirl it around to coat the entire skillet.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in the skillet seasoned side down. Season the other side with salt and pepper.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Transfer to a 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Browning the chicken in the skillet first makes such a huge difference in how flavorful this chicken is! Having that crispy, browned crust makes it so savory!
Spinach and Walnut Pesto
1 1/2 cups finely packed spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.
Put It All Together
Spiralize 3-4 large zucchini using a vegetable spirializer like this one. Sauté the noodles on medium high heat in avacado oil with a little salt and pepper for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add two tablespoons of pesto to the noodles and toss until coated.
Serve with sliced chicken breasts and toasted walnuts for garnish.