You know how you have your “go-to” meals that are regularly in your rotation? The ones that are total winners that everyone in the family eats? I feel like they are different from family to family. They are familiar, comforting, and easy. I tend to fall on our go-to meals when life gets stressful. It can be a constant for my family amidst tumultuousness. In our house, we sit down as a family as much as humanly possible. It gives us great quality time with each other after our busy days. I also find it one of the best times to engage my young kiddos.
Our go-to meals are varied with flavor but tend to be simple, quick to throw together meals that can be made when neither my husband nor I feel like cooking, but we still want to eat a healthier homemade meal compared to take out. Most of the ingredients are basics that I like to keep on hand, somewhat in bulk so that it’s easy to make one of my fall back meals.
I basically have the below recipes memorized. It’s nothing earth-shattering! In fact, some of these ideas you likely already have in your repertoire of go-to recipes too. I formulated these as our favorites by trying different recipes out that I’ve found over the years and tweaking them so that they are just how we like them and are uniquely ours. I hope you try some of these twists on go to classics and that they may make your weeknights and tough seasons just a little bit easier.
GO TO MEAL #1: TACOS
We generally have tacos once a week. Even when there isn’t craziness going on in our lives, because we love them that much. I craved tacos with my first pregnancy and ever since it’s been a running joke that I’m Taco Belle. Most of the time we have ground beef tacos, but we also mix in shredded chicken tacos. The EASIEST way to make them is with a pressure cooker.
PRESSURE COOKER SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS
Chicken breasts (frozen actually works really well here too without having to thaw for a fortnight before cooking… anyone else always freaking forget to thaw the meat??)
1 packet of taco seasoning (or 3 TBS homemade)
1 cup of salsa of your choice
1 cup of water.
Put all of the above in the instant pot and set it to sealing. Use the manual setting on the instant pot for 10 minutes, 12 if frozen. Quick release and shred with a fork. Serve on tortillas, rice or greens- it’s great all 3 ways!
GO TO MEAL #2: PASTA
This you can go buck wild with depending on what you have on hand. I never underestimate the power of a good marinara sauce (aka I stock up on it at Costco so we always have it..), but the options are endless! One twist that I have taken on spaghetti noodles is a lemon parmesan dish that’s amazing either warm or cold out of the fridge!
spaghetti noodles (actually, any noodles will work)
1/4 c Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Boil noodles according to package directions. While those are cooking, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic and cook till fragrant. Zest the lemon and add the juice from the whole lemon and the remaining oil into the pan. Let simmer for 2-3 min. Remove from heat. Pour “sauce” over noodles. Season with salt and pepper and top with shredded parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
GO TO MEAL #3: SAUSAGE AND VEGGIES
Sausage is a great way to kick up a meal’s protein value. Sausage and vegetables also just remind me of summer, which is one of my favorite times of the year! It goes with a lot of different vegetable options. So feel free to sub out whatever your family likes!
OVEN ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND VEGGIES
Sausage of your choice- I like Aidells Smoked pork Sausage Andoullie style for a kick!
Veggies- we use red and green bell peppers, onion and potatoes.
1Tbs Italian Seasoning
Preheat your oven to 425. Slice up the sausage and veggies and place them together in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over and toss to coat. Add Italian seasoning and toss to coat again. Grease a 9×13 pan or casserole dish (size really doesn’t matter here as long as it’s big enough) and pour in the mixture. Cover with foil. Cook for 17 minutes, pull it out and stir it, then re-cover, and put it back in for another 17-18 minutes. Enjoy!
GO TO MEAL #4: SOUPS
Soup is a versatile meal. You can dress it up or down, have it as a side or the full meal. A quick Pinterest search will yield tons of results as the possibilities are nearly endless. One of my favorites is an extremely quick tortellini soup that comes together in merely 15 minutes!
TORTELLINI TOMATO AND SPINACH SOUP
1 package of frozen tortellini
8 C chicken broth
1 can (15-28oz depending on if you like them) diced tomatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of spinach
salt & pepper
Heat a large stockpot over med-high heat. Add oil, garlic and onion. Once fragrant and transluscent, add chicken broth, tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add in frozen tortellini and cook for at least 2 minutes. Lastly, add in the spinach and continue cooking until wilted.
Looking for more clean easy meal ideas? Download our Toledo Moms Recipe Book!
Try them out!
What are some go-to meals that you and your family utilize? Does your normal change in times of struggle or crises? I urge you to utilize food and mealtime in general to re-direct your family’s feelings of being in flux. I know it has helped me out a ton. Interacting with my husband and babies over food that we all really enjoy is by FAR one of my greatest comforts!