The Go To Dinner

Do you have a list of go to dinners in your repertoire that you tend to eat week after week? I certainly do. This week my husband and I prepared macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken with baked potatoes, beef tacos made with prepackaged seasoning and open chicken sandwiches with stock based gravy.

I bought two rotisserie chickens earlier in the week and used that chicken in three dinners and one lunch. I did find one new recipe: baked samosas, which my husband and I cooked together on Sunday night. Other than that this week was a hodge-podge of go-to meals that were easy to prepare and super quick to eat.

I always find it difficult to transition back to making nightly meals after two weeks away on vacation. Last week we turned to Noodles & Company and Papa John’s. This week I vowed to make the most of the food in our pantry and managed to cook dinner every night, even if we didn’t eat the most spectacular meals.

I definitely need to expand my repertoire though. I get awfully sick of macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken and tacos. My husband is great about cooking dinner when I work late a few days a week, but I need to find a few more go-to meals he can prepare with little time and energy. Do you have any favorite meals that you turn to when you don’t have a lot of time to cook dinner? Do you have a list of tasty go-to meals that you find yourself preparing week after week? If so, do you ever get totally and completely sick of making them over and over again? I know I do.

11 thoughts on “The Go To Dinner”

  1. Life would,nt be worth living if we did,nt eat Chilli-con-carne at least once a fortnight, and also Turkey mince burgers. After that I kind of run out of ideas.

  2. Soup with grilled cheese, and what my kids call "brinner". Breakfast for dinner is always easy to make and a treat, because we never actually eat any of those foods for breakfast.

  3. Here's an easy twist on your mac'n cheese and buffalo chicken dishes that I make quite often: Prepare the mac'n cheese like you normally would, then add wing sauce and blue cheese dressing, and cut up chunks of cooked chicken. Place in a baking dish, sprinkle with shredded cheddar and / or crumbled blue cheese and bread crumbs, then bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs toasted. Yum!

  4. We have a list of meals that changes by season that are are go-to meals. Typically 2-4 a week are comprised of these, with enough of a schedule that we can generally go two weeks or longer between repeats. Pasta night is generally every two weeks or so, where spinach lasagna night (starting in the fall months when you need some 'warm' food) is every four to six weeks. Having a nice blend ensures that you can always have some stand-bys as well as leave room to mix different things in.

  5. Our fav go to meals – I keep garden burgers, salmon burgers and chicken burgers in the freezer – burgers and a salad, takes about 20 minutes to put together. Always on hand and takes about 20 minutes – rice, black beans cooked in a little garlic and onion, topped with lettuce, onion, olives, tomatoes, grated cheese and some salsa poured over the whole thing – my four year old loves it!

  6. We eat a lot of the same meals over and over again, as well. A running favorite is Cheeseburger Meatloaf. Its super easy and you can even make it ahead of time and reheat, or freeze. Its a Rachel Ray recipe… just google it and adapt as needed! Another favorite is Chicken Parmesean!

  7. My favorite go-to meal: Cheatin' Chile Verde picked up from the citymama blog a few years ago. We eat this once or twice a month. I know it by heart.

    In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed bot, saute in olive oil 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, and a whole cut-up chicken (or legs & thighs) until golden. Empty one 28-oz can green enchilada sauce over the chicken and add 1 cup chicken broth. Turn heat to low, simmer 30 minutes, then add 2 to 4 corn tortillas that have been sliced into strips. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve with a vegetable, rice, and black beans.

    Good luck. I generally enjoy cooking, but 12 years and thousands of meals later, I definitely get into ruts! Clare

  8. I love, love, love these comments. It's nice to see that I'm not alone in the world of go-to meals.

    @Pam – breakfast is always a fallback plan at our house for dinner too.

    @Anonymous – Thanks for the tip on mac and cheese. I'm a big hot sauce fan so I think I'd really like your twist on an old favorite.

    @Sarah – Cheeseburger Meatloaf, huh? I might have to give that one a try.

    @Anonymous – Thanks for the Cheatin' Chile Verde recipe. Maybe that will get added to our rotation.

  9. I tend toward regular recipes, which are usually my husband's favorites. However I also cook based on what's on sale at the market. One of my tricks is to buy chicken quarters or split breasts or whatever piece is cheap, boil them with a carrot, onion, and celery, and then take the chicken out. I shred a thigh or two and add noodles to the broth for soup, which is good for at least one dinner and two lunches. Then I marinate the boiled pieces in BBQ sauce or some other seasoning, and pop them under the broiler to eat with rice or vegetables for another dinner. Any remaining chicken gets shredded into chicken salad or cubed into casserole.

    The only problem with this is that it gets so tiring to eat chicken all the time! So I usually do an every other day type thing – alternating with pork chops, or spaghetti, or steak if I find it at a good price. But the chicken trick, as I call it, is a great way to always have something in your fridge without falling into a rut. You can do ANYTHING with a piece of cooked chicken!


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