Having meals prepped and ready for the crockpot in my freezer is a great stress reliever. Check out my post here on ways to make freezer meal prep less overwhelming. Now here are 10 kid approved dinners to prep. I make these meals to be as ADHD and diabetic friendly as possible. Check out my post here on easy substitutions to help. The variety of veggie made pastas from Bird’s Eye are a huge help when it comes to making meals kid friendly too.
Why I use the slow cooker setting over pressure cooker
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A few years ago, the Instapot was all the rage among coworkers and friends. They raved about being able to cook a whole chicken in under 20 minutes. What I didn’t hear mentioned from anyone was how long it sometimes took to get up to pressure before cooking actually started. And even 20 minutes is often just too long to wait. However, we do use this instapot, usually on slow cooker setting. If I am throwing a meal in the morning of, I will use the saute function to brown meat if needed before adding the rest of the ingredients.
For our busy gymnastics family, with 2 competitive gymnasts, we don’t walk through the door until 8pm most nights. It isn’t practical to eat dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon. It seems our choices are fast food, bringing home takeout, or having dinner ready to serve as soon as we walk in the door. To save money and eat healthier, we opt for the latter.
Our goals for eating healthy
Some of these recipes won’t fit into some people’s idea of healthy. I am not a nutritionist or dietician. However, I have done a decent amount of research. For our family, our goals are low sugar, a decent amount of protein and fiber, and keep empty carbs (and total net carbs) in check. We include healthy fats, and try to minimize the use of white flour. While additional factors could further improve healthy eating, these are simple and attainable for our family.
Make it time efficient
These meals can all have most or all of the recipe dumped into a ziplock bag in the freezer ahead of time. Having meals already prepped in advance to grab and throw in the crockpot makes my success rate of having dinner ready much better. It saves me so much time to prep multiple meals at a time. I only have to clean the kitchen once. I can make multiple meals with like ingredients in half the time. While all of these meals can be thrown together in the morning, it makes it so much easier if I only have to open a bag.
Kid approved ground beef dinners to prep
Creamy beef and shells (by sweet and savory meals)
Biggs kind of makes fun of how I follow recipes. It is well known within the family when I make a new meal, I often very loosely follow a recipe. This is one of those recipes. I generally use this veggie mac and cheese instead of shells. Cream cheese makes a good substitute for the sour cream. I have thrown all of the ingredients (browned ground beef), including the veggie pasta in a freezer bag to freeze until cooking.
Sloppy Joe’s(compliments of my sister-in-law)
This one is so simple but so good, and so worth not using the prepackaged stuff. If I am throwing this in the morning of, I brown 2 lbs ground beef on the sauté function. I add a full 20 oz bottle of Heinz ketchup (the brand really does affect taste for this recipe). I also add about 1/4 cup barbecue sauce. This can sit on low for 4-6 hours without a problem. We serve this on whole wheat buns or scoop up with cheddar protein chips.
Ziti (by build your bite)
I usually add about a pound of browned ground beef into the sauce layer of this recipe. I have also prepped the layers of this meal directly into a freezer bag to freeze and cook later. There is a Bird’s Eye veggie pasta with Penne noodles as well that I use for this, sauce and all.
Chili cheese dog casserole (by recipes that crock)
My kids look forward to this recipe. We usually serve it over some form of veggie fries to sneak in our vegetables.
Kid approved chicken dinners to prep
Crack chicken (by Aunt Bee’s Recipes)
We enjoy this on a whole wheat bun, or some healthy crackers.