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Easy Dinner Ideas For Back-To-School

School is back in session! If your schedule looks a bit chaotic, it can be difficult to not only make a substantial dinner, but also find a meal that pleases everyone in the family. Here are some of our favorite quick dinner recipes to give you some inspiration.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

(Our Marketing Director says this is one of her favorites.)

  1. Unwrap the beef and pat dry with paper towels. Rub salt and pepper on it and place it at the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Peel 3 large carrots and slice in half or into thirds. Place in the crock pot.
  3. Rinse 3 celery stalks and cut off the leafy parts and the ends. Cut each stalk in half and place it in the crock pot.
  4. Rinse 5 – 6 small red potatoes and place them in the crock pot either whole or halved.
  5. Peel and slice 1 sweet onion and place in the crock pot.
  6. Peel and slice 2 – 4 cloves of garlic and place them in the crock pot.
  7. Toss a couple sprigs of thyme or a tbsp. of Italian seasonings into the crock pot.
  8. Pour a quarter- to a half-cup (to preference) of wine into the crock pot.
  9. Pour beef stock into the crock pot over the other ingredients until it covers everything.
  10. Pour a quarter- to a half-cup (to preference) of whole wheat flour into the crock pot and gently stir.
  11. Lightly salt and pepper, cover the crock pot, and set to low heat.

Optional: Remove step 10. Between steps 7 and 8, pour a half-cup of brown rice into the crock pot. This will help make the meal both more filling and provide a thicker consistency–more like stew instead of soup.

Although she modifies the dish by taking out the cabbage, you can keep it for a more traditional corned beef dish.

Slow Cooker Pull-Apart Marinated Steak or Chicken

This is as easy as cooking meat gets. Just put the steak or chicken in the slow cooker, pour your favorite marinade in, and let it cook for about 5 hours. At the end of the day, the meat will be perfectly tender and easy to shred. This makes it easy to add to some cooked veggies—consider red and green bell peppers—or in sandwiches. It also makes for easy and delicious leftovers.

The great thing about crock-pots and slow cookers is you can put the ingredients in, turn it on, and you’ll have dinner ready by the time everyone is home from their day. They really take out a lot of the hassle of preparing a family meal.

Baked Mac & Cheese

Always a family favorite, mac and cheese is an easy go-to meal. For the baked version, you will need pasta, half-and-half, and a mix of your favorite shredded cheeses.

  1. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Pour a layer on the bottom of a casserole dish so the pasta is just covering the bottom.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top of pasta so all pasta is just covered.
  4. Pour pasta onto layer of cheese.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 & 4 until all pasta and cheese is used.
  6. To add a little extra creaminess, gently pour about a cup of half-and-half over the dish.
  7. Put it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on the top when the dish has about 5 minutes left in the oven to add a golden crust.

With baked macaroni and cheese, there are a variety of ways to make it different. You can add ground meat and tomatoes to resemble more of a lasagna. Or you can use fun pasta shapes instead of the traditional macaroni. Really, the possibilities are endless.

For more quick and easy dinner ideas, check out these freezer meals. (Don’t worry—they’re not boxed.)