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Easy Fall Meals: For the Nights You Need A Little More Help

Each week I envision myself sitting down with a nice cup of tea to plan our meals for the week and make a grocery list online to pick up later that day or the next day. Some weeks, this picture-perfect scene happens and other weeks it doesn’t. Thus is life. I have a few easy fall meals up my sleeve that I can always fall back on when my grandiose plans of new meals each week get away from me. Overall, we try to eat healthy, clean dinners each night. I like to make sure my boys get enough protein and are offered a veggie to turn down (some nights we have veggie wins, most nights we don’t—again, reality). We order pizza, we drive through Chick-Fil-A, and we pick up to-go food from restaurants—we are human, of course. But when I plan and am prepared, we tend to eat at home. I utilize my slow cooker and Instant Pot as many nights as I can, but the majority of our easy fall meals are quick, one pot/pan meals. 

Taco Tuesday – I almost always have organic ground beef in my freezer. I find the three-pack of ground beef from Costco to be super yummy and packaged amazingly. I throw them in a bowl of water and they defrost pretty quickly. I always sneak veggies into my taco meat. Our family favorites are zucchini and sweet potatoes. Just make sure they are chopped very fine for even cooking. I use this multi-chopper that was a wedding present from Williams Sonoma. I think any multi-chopper is worth the investment! Check out Amazon; there are a lot of great options.

  • Ingredients:
    • ground meat, veggies (finely chopped), taco seasoning (I like the low sodium ones), oil for sautéing (I love avocado oil), your choice of taco dressings/toppings and holding device (hard shell/tortilla, avocado, sour cream/Greek yogurt, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.), and whatever sides you want (we tend to do rice and black beans)
  • Instructions 
    • sauté ground meat & chopped veggies  in  oil of choice
    • prep fixings & prepare sides while meat and veggies cook
    • assemble tacos and enjoy! 

Red Beans & Rice – As a native New Orleanian, this is a Monday staple. Some people make theirs from scratch, season all the things, chop all the veggies, and they rock for all that extra effort. I go the lazy route and use Zatarain’s Red Beans seasoning mix. I cannot find it in stores here in Texas, so I bulk order from Amazon. I can usually can get two weeks out of one Monday cooking session; I just make new rice each week. I used to make it with brown rice until I got eye rolls from my husband. Thus, I folded and we have white rice, as the red bean gods intended. 

  • Ingredients
    • 1 lb. dried red beans, 1 lb. smoked sausage, 1 box of Zatarain’s red bean seasoning mix, rice of choice
    • bonus: we sometimes make cornbread to go with it, and we really like Trappey’s Peppers In Vinegar to put on top  
  • Instructions 
    • Follow the instructions on the box: 1) Rinse beans, bring beans and water to boil, simmer for 45 minutes.    2) Mix seasoning mix with 1 cup of water and add it to the beans, then add sausage and bring to boil.   3) Cook rice as per instructions. 4) simmer 2-3 hours and serve over cooked rice. 

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce – Remember, I am keeping it easy here, folks. I do not make my own meat sauce. I do, however, find really yummy jar sauces and use them. The key with jar sauce is to look for only real ingredients that you know. I avoid any of the sauces with sugar as an ingredient; it is not necessary. My favorite sauces are the 365 brand from Whole Foods or Cucina Antica from almost any grocery store. I have found these to be the most flavorful and yummy sauces to use. I will change up the meat used, depending on what I have that week. I’ve made it with ground bison, ground turkey, ground beef, and even ground chicken. I try to mix in veggies here as well. Disclaimer: I have not found the perfect spaghetti-sauce-with-hidden-veggie trick, though; broccoli is pretty easy to work with, but sometimes very noticeable. 

  • Ingredients
    • oil of choice 
    • spices of choice 
    • ground meat of choice
    • pasta of choice
    • spaghetti sauce of choice 
    • veggie to sneak in if you go that route – I typically steam broccoli until it is very overcooked and mushy and then mix that in
  • Instructions 
    • brown meat in oil; add any spices you may want
    • in another pot, boil pasta 
    • steam veggies in a separate pot, or heat up frozen veggies in the microwave. 
    • add veggies to the meat
    • when meat is browned, open jar of sauce and pour on to meat. If pasta is cooked, drain it and add it here

Swedish Meatballs – Here is a slow cooker staple we use every few weeks. It is one of the more unhealthy dishes we eat. But it is so good, so easy, and always a winner! 

  • I follow another lady’s recipe here. A dear friend suggested it and it is perfect every single time. Here is the link. 

Naan Pizzas – There are so many great ways to make DIY pizzas. We just love the softness of the naan bread, so we always go that route. The boys (husband included) love making their own pizzas. My oldest is in a “no red stuff” phase so we stick to an olive oil base for him. 

    • Ingredients
      • I again will be annoying and say dealer’s choice! You choose the things your family wants on their pizzas. Some ideas are: marinara sauce, olive oil, garlic, cheese, pepperoni, bacon, chicken (we typically use left over rotisserie chicken), spices, olives, fruit, basil, sausage, mushrooms, etc. The list is endless! 
    • Instructions 
      • let each person assemble their pizza with desired toppings
      • cover cookie sheets with foil & place the pizzas on the cookie sheets
      • bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. If you like a crisper crust, cook them longer. Naan does not get extremely crispy, so if you prefer a more thin, crunchy crust, you may want to try flatouts or tortillas or even the Pillsbury pizza dough

Roasted Veggies & Chicken Apple Sausage – This is hands down the easiest and yummiest go-to meal that we adore. It is 100% a dealer’s choice type of meal. I have never once made it exactly the same, and often use whatever is on hand. The key here is the chicken apple sausage; it adds a nice sweetness to the whole dish. 

    • Ingredients
      • chicken apple sausage, chopped into pieces
      • whatever veggies (we do sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, & asparagus a lot) 
      • spices of choice (I adore this no-salt seasoning from Costco)
      • oil of choice (I again prefer avocado oil)
      • bonus: maple syrup; I usually do one plop to give a little sweetness overall 
      • gallon Ziplock bag 
    • Instructions 
      • chop the veggies and sausage as desired 
      • put everything in the Ziplock bag and shake it all up. You can even prepare this in the morning or the night before. Just leave it the fridge in the sealed bag. 
      • Line the roasting pan (I use a cookie sheet/pan with sides to contain potential rogue veggies) with tin foil (I always use tin foil on my pans so I have less clean up)
      • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes and mix everything up about halfway through. I check the potatoes as the gauge for doneness. 

Chicken Fried Rice – this is another one of our super-easy fall meals. I call it “chicken” fried rice, but we have also made it with turkey. This is another “what do I have on hand?” meal. We typically use leftover rotisserie chicken for this dish. 

Chicken Fried Rice

  • Ingredients
    • already-cooked chicken 
    • bag of frozen mixed veggies (we like peas & carrots)
    • 6-8 eggs
    • brown rice (you can cook your own or go the easy route like us—we buy brown rice bowls from Costco)
    • spices (onion powder; garlic powder)
    • liquid aminos or soy sauce 
  • Instructions 
    • chop the chicken finely & add to a pan with a little butter or oil 
    • add bag of frozen peas & corn 
    • move the chicken and veggies to one side & scramble 6-8 eggs on the other side 
    • heat up the rice in the microwave & add it to the pan
    • add onion & garlic powder and liquid amino or soy sauce to the pan
    • mix it all together, taste it a few times, and bam, you are done!

 

Cheers to you mamas and all your weekly meal plans. Some weeks we win them and whip up 3-4 new beautifully delicious meals that everyone adores. Some weeks are total busts all around. And finally, some weeks we need to rely on easy fall meals to get us by! What are your go-to fall recipes?

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