So, you’ve got the quarantine life handled. You’re working on adjusting to whatever nontraditional schooling model your kids are doing this year. And you’re probably still juggling the same amount of housework, actual work, and trying not to lose your mind that you were juggling BEFORE school started.
Kudos to every single one of you parents for not tearing your hair out or having a total breakdown. I don’t know if I could do what you’re doing.
I’ve heard from a lot of mom friends that they feel like “bad moms” for feeding their kids the same rotation of super simple meals like spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs during quarantine. Even if you’ve managed to somehow fit more variety and veggies into your own rotation, I have a feeling you’re probably getting sick of eating the same things on repeat or feeling guilty for fixing the same set of meals over and over.
You’re probably getting sick of eating the same things on repeat or feeling guilty for fixing the same set of meals over and over in quarantine.
First, let me say that you are a great mom. Your kids are being fed, and you’re doing your best for them. I get that you need some variety, though, so I’m going to give you a few of my favorite simple recipes that you can easily adjust according to the pickiness of your kids or how much extra you want to have for leftovers.
1. Enchilada Casserole
When I was a kid, pasta nights were my favorite nights. Literally any kind of pasta. As an adult … well, basically nothing has changed. For me, anything is better when you add pasta to it. If your kids like pasta or tacos, I’m pretty sure they’ll love this enchilada casserole.
I’ve made this multiple times for my (grownup) family, and it’s easy, customizable and always results in leftovers (which I also love).
You can add or subtract veggies as needed, sub in ground turkey or low-fat cream cheese, or sprinkle crushed Fritos or tortilla chips on top. You basically can’t mess this up, and it’s easy enough that the kids could help make it, too!
You can get the full recipe here.
2. Honey Glazed Chicken
When in doubt, I always turn to chicken to save the day. You can do basically anything with it, and it’s very forgiving. This might not work for everyone’s kids, but I think that this sweet and mildly tangy chicken is familiar enough to be appealing for picky eaters while different and interesting enough that you’ll actually be excited for dinner.
I add extra spice to mine when I make it, but you can omit the spice if your kids won’t eat it. I’d recommend just adding a touch more soy sauce so that it doesn’t get overly sweet.
The full recipe is here!
(This is another recipe that would be great with pasta, but it’s good with rice too! God bless microwaveable rice bags.)
3. Chicken Crescent Rollups
This one is extremely kid-friendly, and it’s amazingly easy as well. All you need is some shredded chicken, shredded cheese, a tube of crescent rolls, and some cream of chicken soup!
The recipe says to boil the chicken breasts, but honestly, I would recommend baking them or just shredding up a rotisserie chicken. Boiled chicken is just unappealing to me, especially when baking or slow cooking it is just as easy and tastes so much better. She also doesn’t mention seasoning the chicken at all, which I can’t condone. Season! Your! Food!
Bake the chicken with butter or broth, and be sure to season it with at least a little salt and pepper (I personally use powdered bouillon, onion, and garlic as well).
Even picky eaters should love this! Grab the recipe here.
4. Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Having a huge slow cooker is a real time (and life) saver, especially if you spend a couple of extra bucks on those super handy liners that let you just toss the mess instead of scrubbing the pot clean later. (Like these!)
Even though this is called “soup,” let me just warn you that Sir Mix-a-lot would like this soup because she is thicc. It’s creamy, hearty, and full of bacon, chicken, and veggies on top of the absolutely delicious gnocchi. I’m a sucker for a good dumpling, so I’ve been known to add a little extra gnocchi to the pot.
Get the recipe here, and don’t miss the scaling tool at the top of the recipe that does all the conversion work for you if you want to make extra!
P.S. You’ll likely want quite a lot more seasoning than what the recipe calls for. I add a hefty amount of Italian seasoning, twice as much garlic, and considerably more salt and pepper. Just remember to taste it periodically while it’s cooking so that you can adjust to your liking.
5. Bonus Side Dish: Orange Glazed Baby Carrots
Yeah, I know. Veg is not usually a crowd pleaser. I’m picky about how and when I’ll eat veggies too, so I sympathize. I don’t generally like carrots, but these (and the delicious sweet ones that come with Japanese takeout) are the exception.
These are a perfect balance between too crunchy and too mushy (yuck), and the orange glaze combined with the savory salt and pepper seasoning almost makes you forget you’re eating veggies at all!
I would recommend using orange marmalade instead of fussing with juicing and zesting fresh oranges and mixing that with honey. Also, it doesn’t make a bit of difference whether you use salted or unsalted butter (I’ve done both!). Remember, easy is the name of the game when it comes to quarantine meals!
You can check out the recipe here.
Dinner Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
You’re doing great. Your family is making it through each day fed, clothed, and mostly sane. If you’re sick of spaghetti but afraid to branch out too far, I hear you! The recipes I shared are ones that have been hits for my own picky family, so I hope you have as much success as I did.
Do you have other easy quarantine meals that your family loves? Drop them in the comments!