During this pandemic, we are all feeling problems both big and small. A small item on the issues list is constantly feeding a family who otherwise wouldn’t be home for 3 meals (plus snacks!) every single day of the week. The food situation is out-of-control!
In our house we have three adults and two food-eating children (+ one breastmilk/formula only one!). Though it isn’t extraordinary on a normal basis to feed 5 people, it has been an issue keeping up with this new kind of demand in our particular household. Three meals a day, seven days a week, five people. We just never had this kind of pressure to keep the kitchen stocked!
I also don’t like cooking and barely have time for it (as most people don’t). With a national pandemic occurring, I also dread going to the store or trying to meal plan when I don’t know what I am actually going to find on the shelves. Instead of worrying about the actual meals, I have come up with a great “basics” list we just keep getting over and over again – keeping us all well-fed and somewhat healthy (I must admit, we have made too many cookies so that hasn’t helped with the healthy part of all this).
If you are looking for easy meals to feed a family, staple items to have in the kitchen, simple grocery lists, or basic food items for easy meals when you have young kids – here is what we’ve got going on over here. Check the lists below!
Breakfast options in our house:
Oatmeal (adding raisins, flax or granola as optional), eggs, bacon, toast, yogurt (adding granola as optional), pancakes, cereal with milk/fruit, a protein shake with fruit, or fruit smoothie (for the kids, spinach, water, blueberries, flax meal, chia seeds and a banana is the basis of this).
Snacks options in our house:
Mixed nuts or homemade trail mix, fresh cut veggies (peppers, carrots, zucchini, etc.), fresh fruit (sliced oranges, berries, half cut kiwis, sliced peaches, etc.), smoothies, cheese, apple slices and peanut butter, yogurt, a bar, chips, dried fruits, raisins, dry cereal, dried fruits
Lunch options in our house:
A Freshly Meal, a salad (with a nuts, veggies and a protein like chicken, bacon, or salmon), chicken nuggets with a veggie, a sandwich, veggies and a protein or carb (i.e. like butter pasta and cooked carrots on the side for the kids)
Dinner options in our house:
A Freshly Meal, or baked chicken/salmon and sauteed veggies (you could get fancy here and do chicken piccata), grilled chicken and a side of grilled peppers or broccoli, sweet potatoes, a pasta dish (usually I cook it in with a oil/butter based vegetable medley), Pizza, Perogies, Dumplings, homemade mac & cheese, a rice bowl (like with tofu or chicken, and sauteed veggies and a yummy sauce on top).
Fruit with whip cream or a sweet fruit smoothie
These meals can get boring, but I basically spend less than 25 minutes a day cooking or preparing food for a family for five people with the grocery store lists below. Freshly meals help keep a little variety in our lives (we get 6-9 individual size meals a week delivered depending on the week) and we try to mix it up once in a while with some take-out.
Here is how we do it:
- Food Delivery. I do an order of Freshly every single week, either 6 or 9 meals. I know, this is not a cheap option and we are definitely spoiled being able to cheat this way on the meal planning situation but it helps a TON. Both my boys (3.5 and 2) can pretty much eat almost every single meal that Freshly offers (we avoid the spicy ones for them), and they both can share 1 meal. Actually, sometimes 1 of the Freshly meals gets me 1.5 meals for my boys if I combine it with other things we have at home like broccoli, sweet potato, mixed veggies, etc.
- Costco. I am lucky enough to avoid going to Costco myself because the Bay Area still currently has plenty of Instacart shoppers. But since Instacart is more expensive than going by myself, I try to keep this shorter than I would need in-person and buy the rest elsewhere. (Basically, I balance out the difference in price of buying in bulk and paying for Instacart fees vs. buying smaller items at a higher cost at other stores). My Costco list gets our family far and actually offers a lot of variety to the week. Every 1 or 2 weeks I get most of the things on the lists below (but obviously not all).
- Safeway. Safeway is your run of the mill big grocery store here. They have “curbside pick-up” so I have been ordering ahead and popping my trunk open for the curbside courtesy… never getting out of the car and paying the same price I would in-store. Not during a health crisis – I’d like to pick out my own meats and produce but right now I am happy to forgo that and get what I get (which actually have been pretty good).
Here are my lists (again, I don’t get everything every single week, but I don’t have to veer far off this list to keep our family health and fed and keep cooking down to a very minimum!).
- Kirkland Signature Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter
- (Sometimes) Angus Beef tri-Tip Steak
- Chicken Breasts or pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
- Mixed Nuts and/or Cashews
- Mixed Yogurt Flavors (Noose) and/or Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
- Cheese (string cheese and small blocks of cheddar for snacks)
- Broccoli florets (I cook with a little oil, salt and pepper)
- Organic Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries)
- Pasta Boxes
- Mixed Color Bell Peppers
- Organic Romaine Hearts
- Fruits: Apples, Bananas, Kiwis, Mangos
- Tofu (Firm) (I just cook on the stove top with oil/salt/pepper)
- Avocados (Slice up for salads or a side for the kids at their meals, avocado toast is also yum!)
- Wheat Bread
- Fig Bars
- Sun Chips or Pop Chips
- Whip Cream
- Edamame (snacking, in salads or mixed rice bowls!)
- Chicken Nuggets
- Honey Bunches of Oats
- Shredded Cheese (add to scrambled eggs or homemade mac & cheese)
- Wine – because – well – ya’ gotta.
- Milk (Fat Free for adults, whole organic for kids)
- Salad Bags (Fresh Express ready to go pre-washed lettuce mixes)
- Zucchini (for salads, veggie snacks or for my veggie butter pasta)
- Yellow Squash (for salads, veggie snacks or for my veggie butter pasta)
- Sliced Almonds (trail mix ingredient or for salads)
- Dried Cranberries (trail mix ingredient or for salads)
- Raisins (snack for the kids, trail mix ingredient or for salads)
- Glazed Walnuts (salad topping)
- Poppy Seed Dressing
- A Vinaigrette Dressing (I like apple cider!)
- Frozen Cauliflower Pizza (kids love this!)
- Frozen Mixed Veggies
- Frozen Strawberries
- Flax Meal (oatmeal or yogurt topping or add to a smoothie)
- Chia Seeds (oatmeal or yogurt topping or add to a smoothie)
- Salted Butter
- Yellow Onions
- Peaches/Pears/Plums (as in season) (I don’t like getting these from Costco because they can spoil so quickly, we can’t get too many at once)
- Brussel Sprouts (I roast brussel sprouts as a side dish or to add to my salads)
- Carrots (Shredded carrots are great on salads, raw carrots are a perfect snack, and cooked carrots with a tiny bit of honey, oil and salt are a great side for the kid’s dinner)
- Sweet Potatoes (good side for dinner, or even under easy eggs in the morning!)
- Granola (for snacking or with yogurt)
- Feta and/or Shredded Parm cheese
- English Muffins
- Peanut Butter
- Capers (I pretty much love capers and use them on my oil/butter/veggie pasta)
- Cold Cuts (turkey and cheese) – sandwiches or cold cut roll-up snacks
- Frozen Perogies (easy meal!)
- Frozen Dumplings (easy meal!)
- 1-minute Rice (side dish or make a ‘bowl’ like teriyaki chicken with rice, brussel sprouts, garlic and shredded carrots!)
- Pitted Figs / Apricots (yummy snack for kids)
- Navel Oranges
Assuming you have the following cooking staples:
- Soy Sauce
- Garlic Salt
- And other bottles of goods like teriyaki sauce, etc.