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It is currently soccer season for us, and soccer season means that we have a lot of busy nights. This has never been more true than this spring since it is our first time having four children playing soccer. That means we can have 8 games a week. We have 5 practices a week (Kaitlyn practices twice a week). My husband coaches two of the teams and is the assistant with Kaitlyn’s team. Oh, and did I mention we are still working on our house addition (you can see progress photos on Instagram!).
I know we aren’t the only ones out there with busy seasons. We all need great ideas for busy night meals. Here are some of my favorites. I would love to hear yours!
Breakfast for Dinner
Breakfast foods typically do not take a lot of time to make. Having breakfast for dinner is a great option for a busy night! Various pancakes, breakfast burritos, quiche, omelets, waffles…so many options.
Ah the good old slow cooker. Another great, classic option for your busy evenings. I try to always have one slow cooker meal worked into my weekly meal plan. I have shared some of my favorite recipes in the past:
I have these two books below I reference often when I need slow-cooker ideas. They even include how-tos on changing any recipe you love into a slow-cooker recipe. These are both affiliate links.
The Instant Pot is the new slow cooker. I have been testing the waters with the Instant Pot and it is a great way to cook something faster. It can also be used as a slow cooker, so you can have your cake and eat it to with this one machine.
One of my favorite things I have tried in the Instapot is this curry soup from Six Sisters’ Stuff. Something to keep in mind when turning to the Instapot is that it takes time for it to come up to pressure. So you might think something will take 30 minutes, but it takes 45 because of the coming ot pressure time. Just keep that in mind as you are planning out what to do for dinner and when you need to start. This is the Instant Pot I have and love (this is an affiliate link):
Hey some nights are going to need to be a sandwich night. My kids love these nights because I allow any kind of sandwich and they can choose what they like. Peanut butter and jelly, meat and cheese, grilled cheese…sandwiches don’t have to be boring. Even fancier ones can be done rather quickly. Add some avocado or some pesto sauce to a turkey sandwich and it takes that sandwich up a notch! Don’t forget about things like egg salad sandwiches, sloppy joes, and BLTs! Add some raw fruits and veggies for a fast, easy meal.
A lot of pasta dishes can be cooked rather quickly. Even if you make the sauce from scratch, a lot of them can be done in 20-30 minutes. If I want to do spaghetti and meatballs on a busy night, I will put the meatballs in the slow cooker all day with the sauce, then I only need to cook the noodles when I get home. We love salad (which can be made ahead of time), green beans, or asparagus with our pasta dishes.
The first time I made a salad for dinner, the kids approached with trepidation. Salads are for sides, and they envisioned starvation ahead. Now they love it! Salad with some grilled chicken…some homemade dressing…delicious!
If your family will eat leftovers, having a busy night be leftover night is a great way to get dinner done.
As you go about your food-making year round, take note of the recipes you like that are fast so you can turn to those on your busy nights. Beyond the general categories I have shared, some specific
recipes I like are:
- Asian Lettuce Wraps from (affiliate link –>) Our Best Bites
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches. I have TONS of recipes for this and I love them all.
- Stir Fry from (affiliate link –>) Our Best Bites – side note. I super love Our Best Bites. Aaanndd they have a 30 Minute Meals list on their blog. So you’re welcome.
If you are having a buy night, you will have so much more success with dinner if you plan ahead a bit. Make a meal plan for the week. Think through each day and take note of the ones you will need something fast for. I typically like to leave my meal plan fluid, meaning I just choose 7 meals for the week and decide as I go which I will make which day. During busy seasons, though, I assign ahead of time so I am sure I get the fast meals on the busy days.
At breakfast each day, decide what you are having for dinner and do any prep that needs to be done. That way you aren’t at 3 PM realizing you needed to do a slow cooker meal that day. Oops.
What are your favorite meals to make on busy nights? I would love to hear ideas!