Meal Planning Week 19 shares some easy dinners for cold, busy nights. From one pot meals to sheet pan dinners, there’s a delicious recipe for everyone.
It’s cold. The kids are home from school because of the snow. You walk in the door and they’re whining about what’s for dinner. They’re starving! They haven’t eaten all day! You know this isn’t true, but they say it anyway. Just for the drama.
No worries! You have some amazingly easy and delicious recipes under your belt. We’re talking sheet pan dinners, pressure cooker meals, and even slow cooker dishes that whip up in no time. There’s no excuse! With these deliciously simple recipes shared for Meal Planning Week 19 under your belt, the only reason to order dinner delivery is for a family treat.
What are sheet pan dinners?
They’re dinners that cook on a sheet pan. With timing and a little prep work, all the elements for dinner cook on one baking sheet in the oven. There are pork sheet pan dinners like my sheet pan Tuscan pork dinner. My favorite are sheet pan dinners with sausage! They’re super quick, simple, and are a great sheet pan supper idea.
Sheet pan dinners using chicken have a few options like chicken breast, thighs or legs, or even a spatchcocked chicken. Spatchcocking, or basically butterflying it, opens it up to cook quickly. The sheet pan dinners using pork have more options. You can cook up sausages, pork roasts, bone in chops, boneless chops, ribs, and even strips for tacos.
Put your creative thinking cap on for cheap sheet pan dinners. I like chicken pieces for tacos or fajitas. Turkey kielbasa and some peppers and onions for a delicious dinner. Chicken thighs with some potatoes and carrots. Breaded chicken or pork cutlets for a quick sheet pan Italian dinner. Asian marinated pork or beef for a stir fry dinner. These are just a few ideas for some budget friendly sheet pan meals.
What are slow cooker meals?
For those that don’t know, slow cooker meals are meals cooked in a slow cooker. A slow cooker is a countertop appliance that mimics braising in the oven. It cooks food low and slow. Yes, there is a high setting and a low setting. The high setting cooks between 3 and 5 hours and the low setting is between 8 and 10 hours typically.
I talk about who invented the slow cooker in this meal planning post. It’s quite interesting, I think. He wanted to create something that was like the oven but didn’t take as long to heat up. And didn’t take as long to cook the food either. Sort of genius if you ask me. Of course, I use mine all the time.
Some of my best slow cooker meal ideas are super easy slow cooker recipes. A few ingredients tossed into the slow cooker. Then you set it and forget it. Until you walk home and smell that delicious aroma of a cooked meal ready to eat when you get home. And some of my favorite meals are slow cooker suppers. Chicken cacciatore for one. It is one of my favorite slow cooker chicken meals that is super simple and packed with so much flavor. In fact, I think I’m past due for making it again.
Pulled chicken or pork is one of my favorite slow cooker supper ideas. The pulled meat makes perfect sandwiches or tacos. Or as a topping for potatoes. My favorite is sandwiches. They’re so messy but so delicious! Nachos! They’re great for nachos, too.
What are one pot meals?
One pot meals are just that. A meal cooked in one pot. For me, that means rice or pasta cooked with meats and veggies. Maybe some cheese thrown in at the end for creaminess. The best one pot meals have the perfect ratio of broth and pasta or rice, meat, and veggies.
Quick one pot meals with rice are a simple ratio. It is one part rice to two parts liquid. I add a little extra liquid for added creaminess. Rice is great for one pot skillet meals. They’ve been around forever! I remember having creamy mushroom and chicken with rice. I should make that and share it on the blog.
One pot meals with pasta are a little different because there are so many sizes and shapes of pasta. It’s not easy to have one ratio for all pasta. They all absorb liquid differently. This where weight comes into play. You can measure your pasta in cups but how do you do that for long pastas? It’s not easy to measure those in cups. So, for pasta, I usually measure it in ounces.
For every 8 ounces of pasta, I add about 2 1/3 cups of liquid. Broth is best because it adds more flavor but use whatever you want. I would shy away from creams because it tends to thicken as it cooks which could prevent the pasta from absorbing the liquid it needs to cook. Maybe try a combination of broth and cream? I should try that and see how it works out.
Easy one pot meals are usually very budget friendly. Pasta or rice is relatively inexpensive. You can easily make broth or use water. Some frozen veggies and seasoning tossed in round out the whole meal. Simple and easy. And, like I said, very budget friendly.
Of course, one pot or one pan desserts aren’t as easily to come across. Though there are one bowl desserts. Skillet cookies are a decent semi one pot or pan dessert. Cobblers, maybe, but you need a mixing bowl for the toppings. Even some that say they’re one pot on Google aren’t really one pot. You must mix things in a bowl and then put it in the skillet or pan.
You could roast some fruits and top them with ice cream. That might be a simple, one pot or pan option. Or poach the fruit and top it with cream or whipped cream. These ice cream sandwiches don’t require a pot or a pan. Just a few piping bangs and some imagination! And the snack cake is easily a one bowl and one pan dessert.
I hope I’ve shared some simple recipes to get you through this cold winter weather. Simplicity is sometimes the best form of comfort when all we want to do is curl up on the couch with a blanket.