Meals take time, and homeschool parents are busy! In my last post, I shared five ideas for quick and easy family meals,
all of which I use at least twice a month. Here is part two of that post, detailing five more of our favorites.
Note again: We make these all gluten-free, dairy-free, and (I think) soy-free, but you can obviously add these ingredients back in if you wish.
6. Four-Bean Taco Chili
I’m not sure where we originally got this recipe, but we've been using it for many years (with a few minor changes), and it's always a crowd-pleaser! We serve white rice on the side, usually adding it to the chili to extend it a bit further.
I especially love this meal because it can be done in about half an hour!
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) each black, navy, pinto, and butter beans* (drained and rinsed)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 2-3 Tbs. dried minced onion or chives (optional)
- 2 c. water
*If you can't find butter beans, I recommend substituting canned corn.
In a large pot, brown the beef, then drain the fat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Bring to a simmer and heat on low for about 5-10 minutes, until the chili is heated through.
7. Pumpkin Muffins
These muffins are surprisingly filling, so they often serve as the main course of a quick dinner in our home. Scramble a few eggs and slice some apples to put on the side, and you're ready to go!
- 1½ cups gluten-free flour*
- ½ c. oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. pumpkin spice
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ c. butter, margarine**, or unrefined coconut oil
- ¾ c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 can (approx. 1¾ c.) pumpkin puree
- a few Tbs. milk or milk substitute (as needed)
- ½-¾ c. chocolate chips*** (or raisins if you prefer)
*Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 or a homemade gluten-free mix, but regular flour should work fine!
**Earth Balance dairy-free / soy-free buttery spread
***Enjoy Life brand mini chocolate chips (dairy-free)
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, then set aside. In another bowl, whip butter until softened. Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating mixture as you go. When the dry ingredients are fairly incorporated into the wet, add pumpkin and mix well. The batter should be thick, but if it seems a bit dry or clumpy, add a few tablespoons of milk. Stir in chocolate chips.
Grease or line one regular muffin tin. (I recommend greasing vs. lining, because you will be filling each cup pretty much to the top.) After filling, place on a middle rack in the oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes. I recommend cooling slightly before serving if you used regular-sized chocolate chips, since the melted chocolate can be messy!
8. Pulled Pork
This is my older son's absolute favorite. It takes longer than the rest of the recipes here (and hence doesn't get made quite as often), but that's mostly time in the crockpot; there is minimal prep and only three ingredients! First, you need a pork roast—I
like picnic, shoulder, or butt roasts, but loin works as well if you prefer less fatty meat. Place this in a crockpot and add enough root beer or Coke to cover it (usually between 1-2 liters). Cook until very tender and easy to pull
apart with two forks; this generally takes at least 6 hours on high, and often up to 8 hrs. Once cooked, pull apart the pork with two forks or handy tools like these,
removing any portions of gristle or fat. Add barbecue sauce to taste (we like Sweet Baby Ray's).
9. Sausage Bean Jambalaya
Possibly a funny name for this dish, but it was the best I could come up with when I invented it. It may also look somewhat unappetizing; my kids recently told me that it looks like it belongs in the toilet. BUT it has become one of our favorite meals
because it tastes delicious. My toddler eats it like we haven't fed him for days.
- 1 lb. ground sausage (breakfast sausage, not Italian)
- 1½ c. white rice*
- 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 5 carrots, sliced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 cans baked beans, drained and rinsed**
- 2¼ c. water
- 2 tsp. chicken bouillon or broth base
*We normally use jasmine rice.
**Yes, you read that right. You can substitute regular white beans if you wish, but even without the sauce, the baked beans add a sweet barbecue flavor, without all the extra sugar!
In a large pot (must have a matching lid), brown the sausage, adding the raw vegetables about halfway through. (Add a little oil if needed to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the pot.) Once the sausage is browned and vegetables are beginning
to soften, add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.
10. Chicken, White Bean & Cabbage Soup
Homemade chicken soup often takes time, but sometimes I want it in under an hour! This one hits the spot.
Note: You will need at least an 8-qt. and preferably a 10-qt. pot to make this recipe in the given quantities. (For the 8-qt., you may need to cook the cabbage down a bit before adding all the water.)
- 2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey
- 6 carrots (about 3 cups)
- 1 onion
- 3 Tbs. oil
- 1 tsp each marjoram, coriander, thyme, and rosemary (or other combination of herbs)
- ½ head cabbage (about 8-10 cups chopped)
- 3 cans (14.5 oz.) navy and / or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbs. salt, divided
- 2 Tbs. chicken base or bouillon
- 12 c. water
Dice the onion and slice the carrots. (To save time, I cut the carrots into sticks and then slice them with my food processor. You could also try frozen carrots.) In a large stock pot, heat oil and begin browning the chicken, along with the herbs and
1 teaspoon of salt. About halfway through browning, add the onions and carrots, and continue to sauté until chicken is browned and veggies are beginning to soften. Meanwhile, chop the cabbage into narrow strips. When the chicken / veggie mixture
is ready, add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cabbage is tender (about 15-20 minutes).
Hope you enjoy these meals as much as we do!
Photo credit: Header graphic, iStock. Following images courtesy of author.