When you’ve cooked it a hundred times

Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry

In the last few weeks while talking with mommas about the juggling act that is motherhood, inevitably some of the talk is about the stress involved in cooking, especially when lots of people really don’t enjoy cooking.  There’s nothing like uncertainty about your skill level to take the fun out of something. But when it comes to cooking, just being familiar with various cooking tasks will lead to much greater enjoyment of your time in the kitchen.  My friend Daniel Koontz wrote on his blog this week that he thinks a big key to comfort in the kitchen is having half a dozen or so recipes that you’ve cooked often enough that you can just about produce them on auto-pilot. I completely agree with his theory.  Not everyone will end up absolutely adoring their time in the kitchen, but just moving from dread to comfort is a huge improvement.

When you’re deciding on recipes that you’d like to get good at, here are some tips for picking ones that worth your time:

  • The recipe should be one that all or most of your family enjoys.
  • It should feature affordable, easy-to-find ingredients.
  • It should take 30 minutes or less to complete.

Here are some of the recipes I’ve made so many times that I could probably do them while sleep-walking:

How about you?  What are some of your favorite quick meals?





  1. Can’t go wrong with rice and beans or breakfast for dinner (waffles, eggs, etc). I am loving your Family Feasts book. I have marked up my pages and am working my way through all of the recipes. My family greatly appreciates my new inspiration! 🙂

  2. My go to meals change per season but my stand bys are tomato and tortellini soup, fried rice, pasta and sauce, grilled/baked chicken, calzones or pizza bites, Mac n cheese. I can usually make these with pantry and/or fridge/freezer ingredients at any time and can tweak as needed…chicken added to fried rice, meatballs and garlic bread to round out the pasta or ricotta and meat sauce or Alfredo and veggies -so many twists you can use to expand your go to list… menu planning has been life changing and I am far from a gourmet cook.

  3. I think every mother has a set staple of 5 things that the family eats every week, a couple of company meals, and then a few odds and ends that get made rarely. Our regulars are sausage spaghetti, chicken taco bowls (made with brown rice instead of frying corn tortillas for lower fat), Indian chicken curry, Thai green curry (also chicken), and home made pizza. We mix it up with tagines, couscous, lamb curry, pesto, Thai peanut chicken, schwarmas, etc.

  4. I tend to fall back on a lot of soups. Split pea, zuppa toscana, egg drop, taco… all served with crusty bread, english muffins or paninis. Also beef stroganoff, enchiladas, pancit, beans and cornbread, or just a giant bowl of salad with anything from apples to tomatoes, bacon to lunch meat, sunflower seeds to almonds, eggs to cheese… anything!

  5. I wish I had several go-to meals! Part of my problem is that the kids are picky eaters (6, 4, and two years old) so there are very few things I make that everyone likes. On top of that, throw in our recent realization that my daughter is allergic to milk, and I’m really struggling. We recently found that bean burritos works for all but one kid. They also all usually like breakfast food like waffles and eggs. But I’m still looking for a dairy free waffle / pancake recipe that comes close to the yummy goodness of the pancakes from Pioneer Woman’s website.

    • Check out http://www.minimalistbaker.com She has many dairy free recipes. I have made her pumpkin waffles with slight variation (like maybe omitting the coffee, although it is possible that I used it ; ))and they were delish. The only thing I find is that her recipes only make a minimal amount, which for a family of 6 isn’t ideal….so I usually triple and go from there.

  6. Asian chicken! A bag of frozen boneless chicken breasts dumped in the crock pot with an Asian sauce (chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, etc.) poured over the top. Served over brown rice with a salad. Crazy-easy, and a unanimous thumbs-up from the fam!

  7. mac n cheese,peas and carrots, smoke sausage

    sausage patties, home fries(because I boil a pot of potatoes with skin on once a week and use it for potatoes through the week), green beans and corn

    123 pasta (1 onion 2 cups protein, 3 cups veggies…usually the leftovers)

    stir fry…using any leftover and veggies that need used up

    dump soup…using leftovers or odds and ends out of freezer in to broth I’ve made and canned.

    pizza, (10 min crust including resting time) Canadian bacon or sausage patty cut up, onion and veggies (nuked for 30 sec to precook)…can have it on the table in 25 min.

  8. Rebekah D. says:

    Just had to say… I’ve made 40+ recipes from Family Feasts and I’m a huge fan. It’s my favorite cookbook ever. It’s practically a punch line in our house: “Hey, this dinner is good.” Thanks! It’s from our favorite cookbook!” 🙂