Meal Planning :: 6 {Go To} Recipes for Family Dinners

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Over the years of cooking for our family I’ve had some hits and many misses. Practice does indeed make (closer to) perfect and I now have a decent arsenal of recipes that are simple, predictable, and most importantly, desirable to every member of my family. These are dishes I can incorporate into my weekly meal planning and know with near certainty that:

a) I will be able to pull them off and

b) even the pickiest of my crew will eat them up.

A few notes: You’ll notice that I use the same spices over and over and I like to keep it simple. Delicious cooking does not need to be complicated! Another thing, buy parchment paper in bulk to save time on clean up. I line every dish I put in the oven with it.

Download or print out the recipe cards below and start cooking!

Roasted Whole Chicken
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Roasted Whole Chicken
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Instructions
  1. I used to be intimidated by roasting a whole bird but after trying this recipe I realized how easy it could be. Simple and hot are the keys here. Preheat oven to 450. Rinse chicken under cool water, rubbing gently. Drip dry. Use paper towels to pat chicken dry inside and out. Do this more than you think you should. Dryness is important for crispy skin and moist meat. Mix kosher salt and ground pepper in a bowl and sprinkle generously over entire chicken and inside cavity. Line roasting rack with parchment paper for easy clean up. Place on roasting rack breasts up. Pop it in the oven roast it up! Give yourself plenty of time because that chicken will burn your fingers off trying to carve it up right out of the oven. I let mine sit for a good 45 before carving. To do that, I try to get mine in the oven before school pick up. I almost always make homemade stock overnight when I roast a chicken and it is incredibly simple. Take your carcass, put it in a sauce pan, cover with water, and cook on low overnight. In the morning drain and voila! You have homemade stock! I freeze mine in ice trays to have small servings to throw in everything from rice to veggies. Use anytime you'd use water for more flavor, good fat, and protein.
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Oven Pork Ribs
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Oven Pork Ribs
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Instructions
  1. Mix your rub up in a bowl. Start with even parts salt and brown sugar then mix in other spices. It will end up being a reddish-brown color and taste delicious on the tip of your finger. There is no science here. Throw in a little of this and that and taste it. When it makes your mouth water, stop. If you end up with extra, great! Half the job is done for next time around. Pull out your foil and make it longer than your ribs. I use two pieces overlapped so I have enough to fully enclose the ribs for cooking. Remove the membrane from the boney side of the ribs. You can work your finger under at one end and pull back to remove from one end to the other. This step is important because the membrane acts like a barrier and won't let any of your tasty tasty rub soak in on that side if left there. Coat both sides of ribs generously with your rub. Place ribs meaty side up and enclose with foil, folding ends in the contain moisture. I place mine on a baking sheet in case of drips. Ideally, bake at 200-225 for 4 hours. If you don't have that long, you can go 250 for 2-3 hours. Slow and low is the key. I make these when I have a busy late afternoon/evening but have time to prep and throw them in the oven around lunch. These are great for entertaining as well for the same reason!
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Pulled Pork
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Pulled Pork
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Instructions
  1. This recipe is so easy and so entirely delicious! Coat roast all over with the rub. For more info on how to make your rub, see rib recipe above. Put the roast fat side up in dutch oven or crock pot. If dutch oven, cook at 200-225 for 4-6 hours. Crock pot on low for same amount of time. When meat easily falls apart, use forks to shred and mix with juices at the bottom. This is a great dish to make when you want to throw something in early in the day to be eaten later. Like the ribs, this is a real crowd pleaser for entertaining and you can feed a crowd with one roast. Fill tacos garnished with cabbage and cilantro or make sliders with soft buns and BBQ sauce. I always have leftovers, even when I make this for more than 4 diners.
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Baked Salmon
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Baked Salmon
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Instructions
  1. Line baking sheet or casserole dish with parchment paper. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 20 min. Incredibly simple and healthy. I always choose wild fish over farmed. There are multitudes of resources available on that subject. Wild fish does tend to be pricier so to keep costs down I buy frozen at Trader Joe's or look for sales at other grocers and stock up to freeze at home.
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Grilled or Sautéed Shrimp
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Grilled or Sautéed Shrimp
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Instructions
  1. For grilled: Peel, leaving tip of tail in place, devein, rinse, and pat dry shrimp. In a large bowl sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add minced garlic and 1 TB or so of melted coconut oil. Toss. Thread onto skewers and grill for 5 minutes or so. They will become more pink and curl up when cooked. Avoid overcooking or they will be chewy and dry.
  2. For Sauteed: Follow same prep instructions above, removing tail completely if desired. Heat pan over med high heat with a pat of butter or coconut oil. Careful not to burn your butter. Throw in the shrimp and toss for 5 minutes or so until shrimp become more pink and curl up. Again, avoid overcooking. I LOVE shrimp. Peeling, deveining, and washing shrimp? Not so much. I rarely have time to tolerate all that these days. I buy frozen already peeled shrimp and although fresh is unarguably better tasting, frozen can be delicious as well. Trader Joe's has an Argentinian Red Shrimp in their freezer section that is divine and well priced.
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Burrito Bowl
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Burrito Bowl
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Instructions
  1. If using ground beef, brown on stove top, cook your rice, and heat up the beans and corn. Dice onion, chop tomatoes, and cube avocados. Layer rice, beans, meat, cheese, corn, tomatoes, onions, and avocado in individual bowls. To amp up the nutrients in this dish, I often finely chop a leafy green like spinach or kale and cook it in the rice. One of my guys is super picky but loves this dish so much he doesn't notice I'm sneaking in some serious greens.
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We’d love to hear from you! Share your favorite “go to” dishes below or let us know when you try one of these in your own kitchen.

Happy meal planning…and eating!

 

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