Audience Participation Requested

So here’s the deal. My goal next month is to make at least three (or four) decent, healthy meals a week for my family.

But Kelli, don’t you already make meals for your family?

You had to ask, didn’t you?

Yes, alright?! I make meals for my family. Every day, in fact. Well…every day that I’m not reheating a meal for my family, which if you think about it, is simply heating up a meal that I already prepared, so it’s kind of like double preparing a meal, which clearly shows double the love, right?

Who says I’m bad at math?

A typical dinnertime hour in our house usually involves me flying around the kitchen like a crazy lady, trying desperately to defrost meat or chicken and popping open cans of vegetables that I know my kids won’t eat, but I’m going to prepare anyway because a well rounded dinner plate involves vegetables. I will whip together a decent, if not all that coordinating, meal in less than thirty minutes and will plop those plates in front of wide eyed cherubs who will ultimately turn up their noses in disdain.

Unless that which I plopped in front of them happens to be chicken nuggets or Mac and Cheese, which I rarely buy because I’m fairly certain there is neither chicken nor cheese in either of those items.

But I digress…

I will watch them smother their meat in ketchup or Barbeque…or Frank’s Hot Sauce for Landon because the child was born without taste buds, and they will choke down the required number of bites before pushing their plates away and declaring how NOT hungry they are.

This is usually followed by an immediate request for a snack, which leads me to shoot flaming daggers from my eyes as I huff around the kitchen and boldly declare that no one will eat snacks before bedtime because I had to throw away so much food.

And sometimes I throw in a side of guilt by reminding them of children in Africa with no food, which is basically lifted straight from the Mother’s Guide to Driving Your Kid’s Crazy.

So all that to say…cooking isn’t my forte. It’s not that I can’t cook. It’s that I seem to be allergic to planning ahead. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I coach Tia’s gymnastics class, so I generally try to put something in the crock pot those days so the boys aren’t left to eat cereal for dinner, but other than that, I just tend to prepare meals on the fly, which leaves very little room for creativity and has left my children with less than adventurous pallets.

So part of my 31 Days series, was to plan out and ffeed my family a week’s worth of real meals. The kind that you plan ahead and prepare for and that require fresh ingredients and what not. Since Octobre is almost over, I’m just going to push this plan to next month. I put it off because…well, because I’m scared, quite frankly. I mean, you read what I wrote above, right?


I am writing this post in faith knowing that I will need plenty of encouragement along that way, because friends this is one thing I don’t believe I am capable of.

I need to believe in my ability to cook a decent meal for my family and to start planning said meal before 4:30 in the afternoon.

So how can you help?

I did not make this meal. My friend Wendy made this meal. I ate this meal. It was delicious.

If you have a favorite recipe, or a meal that your kids really enjoy, please leave it in the comments.

If you have a link to a pin on Pinterest with a killer recipe, leave the link. I’ll pin it to my board (if I can figure out how…I’m a Pinterest newbie) and I’ll stockpile a few good recipes from the internet to try out.

There are a few guidelines, though:

Don’t go too easy on me. I want to try real recipes – nothing canned or boxed. I need to prove to myself and my family that I can make real food from time to time.

No fancy ingredients. If the recipe calls for Gouda or shallots or any obscure fair that can only be found in the fresh market section of Whole Foods on Fridays and Tuesdays between 9:00 and 9:22 am, then there’s a really good chance I will never make that meal.

Nothing that involves pasta sauce, because my children don’t like pasta sauce. Can you believe it? I birthed children who don’t like spaghetti! Or frozen pizza! Sometimes I wonder if they’re really even my children…

– Crock Pot recipes are my friends. I am fairly convinced that whoever invented the Crock Pot has been granted a special place in heaven because if I can toss all ingredients in a big pot in the morning and POOF! At 5:00 dinner is ready? Um…yes, please. Yes. Please. 

Other than those simple rules, the sky’s the limit. Lay it on me. What is your favorite dinnertime recipe? Who’s gonna help a slacking sister out?!


Pretty please?


  1. First, you know about, right? If not, that might be a life changer right there. 🙂

    Also, did you know that you can sign up at and they’ll email you recipes every day? That might be another good option.

    This is one of my personal favorites and if your family doesn’t like fish, you could totally do it with chicken instead: If you make cilantro lime rice (literally just white rice, juice from one lime and 1/2-1 bunch of cilantro, it’s just like Chipotle – you could make it a bowl or wrap it up in a burrito.

    Good luck! Menu planning has changed my life!

  2. Hey Neighbor 🙂 Corck pot meal that is really easy…Throw a frozen pork tenderloin in the crock pot with a can of root beer. Put on high for 1 hour then turn to low for about 5 hours, shred, pour in some bbq sauce let cook for another 30 min or so. Serve on rolls. Yummy Pulled Pork Sandwichs!

  3. Breakfast for dinner is always a hit. Throw chopped spinach into scrambled eggs along with diced tomatoes and shredded cheese. Add turkey sausage and whole wheat tortillas, and boom! You’ve got yourself breakfast burritos with all four food groups!

    • I love breakfast for dinner. Unfortunately only 1 out of 3 kiddos eats eggs, but I could probably sweeten the deal up with a Bit of bacon. Thanks Staci!

  4. Technically, this one has cans, but it’s one of my favorites that my kids love too:
    Chicken Cheddar Corn Chowder (Say that ten times fast!)
    Dice an onion and throw it in the bottom of a soup pot with 2 tbsp butter. Stir them around on med-high heat until they’re a nice carmel color. Add two cans Cream of Potatoe Soup, 2 cans sweet corn, and 2 cups milk. Throw in 3-4 cooked, diced chicken breasts. Bring it to a slow boil and remove from heat. Add two cups shredded cheddar (I like sharp) and stir until it all melts into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    I hope youre kids like it as much as mine do!

  5. First, you need the Pepperplate app for iPad. I’ll give you a personal tutorial. You can grab recipes off a lot of the best cooking websites and even some blogs like Pioneer Woman, copy the url into the “import” field and it places the whole recipe in your collection. You can add your own manually too. Then you make your meal plan on a nice calendar and it makes your shopping list for you. I think you can also email recipes between users which means I can share with you the bounty of goodies we have tried in the last two weeks. I have a LOT of others to share so I’ll just print or email them to you. And I have been thrilled with how many great dinners I’ve found recently on Pinterest that feature real, fresh ingredients and yet were easy to make/shop and the kids have loved them.

    I would add that selling this house about had me convinced the crock pot was invented by a momma who was tired of having her dinner preparations messed up by a realtor who wanted to show the house between 5:00 and 6:00 then didn’t show up until 6:35 and stayed past 7:00.

    • Looking up Pepperplate now!

      Lee says that your teaching me to make better meals makes you not dead to him anymore.m;)

  6. If you’re making something that will freeze well (marinated meat, soup, casseroles, etcf.) then double the recipe and cook one for dinner then freeze the other for another dinner. I LOVE having options in my freezer. Here are a few of our favorite recipes, two of which are from a freezer cooking cookbook …

    Crockpot Fajitas
    1 bag frozen Tyson fajita chicken
    2 bags pepper stirfry (I use Birds Eye)
    1 packet fajita seasoning
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1 tsp lime juice
    fajita size tortillas
    black beans or mushrooms (optional)
    garnish: salsa, cheese, sour cream (optional)

    Place chicken in crockpot/slow cooker. Dump in the fajita seasoning over the chicken and then the peppers and remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and enjoy!
    Serves: 6-8, depending on appetite (makes about 12-16 fajitas)

    Parmesan Garlic Chicken
    From “Don’t Panic – More Dinner’s in the Freezer”

    6 boneless chicken breasts
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    1 envelope Italian dressing mix
    2 gloves garlic (I just used minced garlic)
    1/2 cup olive oil

    Cooking day instructions
    Mix together cheese, garlic and Italian mix. Dip chicken breasts in olive oil, then coat with cheese mixture. Store in freezer bag, if you want to freeze. If you want to cook, move on to those instructions. 🙂

    Serving day instructions
    Thaw completely before cooking. Place in greased baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

    Telluride Black Bean Tortilla Bake
    From “Don’t Panic, More Dinner’s in the Freezer”

    Yields 4-6 servings

    1 lb. ground beef
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
    16 oz. can stewed tomatoes (Mexican style) –> I used diced tomatoes
    1/2 cup enchilada sauce
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    6 flour tortillas, fajita style
    3 oz. cream cheese, softened –> I used fat-free and it was fine
    4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
    1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese

    Cooking Day
    Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet; drain fat. Add tomatoes to meat mixture. Stir in black beans, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

    Spread one side of tortillas with cream cheese, topping with green chiles. Fold in half over cream cheese.

    Pour half of the cooled meat mixture into the bottom of a 7×11 (I used 8×8) baking dish. Arrange the folded tortillas over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas. –> I actually layered, starting with the meat mixture, then three tortillas, then more meat mixture, then the other three tortillas.

    Serving Day
    Thaw. Cover dish with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 5 more minutes.

    Let me know if you want more recipes and I can email you some. 🙂

  7. So after months and months (probably years now that I think about it) of promising myself that I would make a weekly menu and grocery list on Sunday afternoons and then of course failing to do so every single week, we signed up for E-meals on There was a groupon for it for $29 at some point. They email me a weekly menu with 7 dinners and the grocery list for the week. We usually pick about 4-5 meals to make each week. Has every recipe been the best meal of our lives? No. But they’ve certainly been delicious and homecooked and now I don’t have the guilt/stress associated with not making a weekly menu and then eating out more than we should!