4 easy back to school meals!

My easy meal formula posts continue to be a popular series here on the blog... I guess you guys come for the fashion and stay for dinner, huh!?! I am okay with that, because truth be told, when I am feeling uninspired for meals I actually can look back on my own posts now.  

Like clothing, my meal planning changes with the seasons... this time of year I go from summer where I rarely cook organized meals to fall where I have to be uber organized to get everyone fed around our super hectic after school schedules.  I depend on TWO things for feeding the family when we are all going in our own directions between the hours of 4pm and 8pm.  The first is the crockpot - of course! And the second are majorly, majorly easy meals.  Today I've got a little bit of both of those types of meals for you!


Chili with Corn Dippers
Canned chili may be a head scratcher to you (I mean, it seems a little 1980's TV dinner-ish) but Trader Joes makes a really delicious canned chili (both their beef and their vegetarian!).  I love this meal because it's easy to have on hand for in a pinch since it's mostly pantry items and it's ready to serve FAST.  Warm the chili on the stove top, then everyone can top it with their favorite toppings.  We like shredded cheese, avocado or sour cream (or all three!) and then use the corn chips for dippers.  Everyone is fed in about 10 minutes here, so you can't beat it!

Chicken Noodle Soup
Every year I kick off the school year with a big batch of chicken noodle soup. It's one of my kids' favorite meals.  It can be a little labor intensive so to make it easier I put the chicken and about 2 cups of broth in the crockpot in the morning on low and cook it all day.  Then about an hour before I serve it I shred the chicken (leaving it in the crockpot), saute the carrots, onions and celery (about a cup of each) and add 6 more cups of broth, the sauteed veggies and about 2 cups of noodles to the crockpot (still on low).  That comes together in about an hour and it's ready to serve with a garnish of parsley and plenty of oyster crackers.  This is a great meal to keep on the counter warming all evening and everyone can eat as they are able. It's perfect for a night when everyone is running in opposite directions.  Then I always freeze the leftovers for a cold and cloudy day in the future. 

Pot Roast
Pot roast has got to be one of my favorite meals when the weather gets cool.  Its a little indulgent so we don't eat it often, but that makes it special too.  I'm obsessed with the Cabernet Beef Pot Roast from Trader Joes mostly because all the seasoning is included, so its SO EASY.  I fire up the crockpot on low in the morning and fill it with the meat, the potatoes, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of wine.  Then dinner is ready to go at the end of the day.  This recipe is so mouth watering and the entire thing gets gobbled up in minutes by the whole family.  Then of course, there is almost a full bottle of wine left over... consider it your prize. ;)

Easy Mexican Feast
We, like most families, love to eat Mexican inspired meals. They are so easy to prepare and usually everyone loves them.  But we also find that we get a little sick of tacos after a while... so it's fun to mix it up a bit.  The tamales from Trader Joes are SO delicious and they cook up in the microwave super fast. I am not above a microwaved meal from time to time.  Pair them with some roasted corn and a bagged salad and this meal comes together in minutes and everyone loves it.  I will say we are pretty partial to the chicken and cheese tamales, but the cheese and green chile version is a close second. This is another meal that is easy to have on hand.  I usually have some type of freezer meal ready to go and when you pair it with a fresh salad it doesn't seem so last minute.

If you want to see all the easy meal features from the archives... click here!