Friday, May 25, 2012

Quick Dinner Recipes for the Super Busy Mom

I wanted to share a little bit of my wisdom as my younger sister embarks on nursing school. (I am meddling that way.) She is on a fast track course that meets for six hours every day Mon-Thurs. She is also married and a mom of two young children ages three and under. If she is not in class, she is studying or changing diapers. Not an easy time in life.

When I decided to go to graduate school, it was probably not the best timing choice in my life. However, I wanted to improve our lifestyle opportunities and continuing my education was a way to do this. I was married, had young children and I worked. It was a benefit to have a supportive husband on board, and who was great with the kids. I wanted to do this with the least disruption to them, mainly for selfish reasons since I still wanted to be liked and married when I finished. I took two classes a semester (usually meeting one night a week and two weekends per month) which made it a long haul, but didn’t make me crazy, and eventually I finished. Another way to ease the stress was to come up with some super easy recipes that required little to no time to create but looked and tasted like home-cooked meals. My husband and I both worked and shared household responsibilities, but I was generally in charge of food. The recipes also needed to be frugal as grad school was not cheap. Being quick to make, it gave me more time to study, write, etc. Here is a shopping list and seven super easy recipes.

Tips: Instant mashed potatoes and frozen steamed vegetables are your best friends. Just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and you have a quick side dish. Also invest in a good crock pot that has a timer on it so that it will turn to warm when the time is complete.

Shopping List:

Canned or Bottled:

2 cans of whole cranberry sauce
3 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
2 cans cream of potato soup
Apricot jam - 8 ounces
Salsa - 12 ounces
Bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce

Dairy Department:


Orange juice
Shredded cheddar cheese

Dry Goods:

Dry onion soup mix
Bag of mixed dried beans
Italian seasoning
1 package taco seasoning mix
2 envelopes of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix
2 packages instant potatoes
tortilla chips

Fresh Vegetables:

Garlic cloves
2 Onions
Bag of baby carrots

Meat Department:

1 pot roast that fits your slow-cooker
Package of ham pre-cut into cubes
2-3 packages chicken or turkey breast/legs (2 crockpot’s worth)


4 packages steamed vegetables
Bag (or two depending on the size of your family) of frozen meatballs


Crockpot Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs


My kids beg for this dish. I threw in a can of cranberry sauce one time just as an experiment and the kids will now only eat it this way.


Can of whole cranberry sauce
Bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
Bag (or two depending on the size of your family) of frozen meatballs


Add all ingredients into the crockpot, mix and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve with vegetables of choice.

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

"Delicious and EASY zesty soup recipe that uses only 6 canned ingredients! Serve over tortilla chips, and top with shredded Cheddar cheese. Throw away the cans and no one will know that it is not from scratch!"

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 ounce) can chunk chicken
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinse)
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, drained

Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, soup, chunk chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Pour everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through.

Chicken Corn Chowder


This is one of my family’s favorites!


2 cans cream of potato soup
2 cans milk
2 cans corn
2 large cans boned chicken (or diced leftover chicken or a packaged of precooked grilled

Shredded Cheese (optional for topping)

Combine all ingredients and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Serve topped with shredded cheese (optional).

Cranberry Chicken (or Turkey)

I don't remember where I originally got this from (probably online), but it has become a favorite. It's easy and tasty.

Chicken or Turkey Breast/Legs
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 pkg of dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup of orange juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put turkey in crockpot, mix rest of ingredients and pour over turkey. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. I fill the crock to the top with meat and double the mix and we have leftovers to put in freezer. I also make gravy out of the sauce and put over mashed potatoes.

Crockpot Bean Soup


1 lb bag or 2 cups mixed beans, soaked overnight
7 C water
Package of ham pre-cut into cubes
1-2 pressed cloves
garlic salt, celery salt, and pepper to taste
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning


The hard part is remembering to soak the beans the night before! Drain soaking water the next day and then put all above ingredients into your crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Sweet Salsa Dump Chicken


1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
8 ounces apricot jam
12 ounces salsa
1 1/2 lbs chicken pieces (4-6 pieces)


Mix all ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (8 if you start with frozen chicken).

Slow Cooker Pot Roast


1 pot roast that fits your slow-cooker
2 cups of water
2 envelopes of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix
Vegetables (optional – chopped onion, baby carrots, sliced celery, etc)


Put pot roast in slow-cooker. Add vegetables. Mix water and onion soup mix and pour over. Cook on high for four hours or low for 8.

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