Fast meals for busy families

Based in Grant, Nebraska

Ok, I know. What do recipes have to do with photography? Well, this photographer loves them! I also know how busy life is with kids! And I love to help others out, so I’d like to share.

What to fix for supper is an age-old question, and every woman’s daily dilemma. Throw in a schedule of full/part time work, kid’s activities, volunteer activities, etc., and you have a time crunch on your hands. Everyone gets home, and they are h-angry! (H-angry: When hunger creates snappy come-backs and attitudes that need adjusting; better known to some as the pit hour!) It’s tempting to just get take-out food, but getting take-out food is never cheap, or healthy.

When my boys were in High-school, I had a few recipes that I fell back on time and again. So, I’d like to share them with you. You’ll have a great meal on the table in 30-40 minutes. Bam! Pit hour, and h-angry attitudes gone. Money and health saved!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I know it sounds complicated and time-consuming, but it’s all in the technique. I use my microwave for meatballs. Yes, microwave. Your family will never know you cooked them this way, and it saves a TON of time. And it creates a hearty meal.


1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon pepper

salt to taste

2 teaspoons crushed basil

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 onion, chopped (optional) 

Mix dry ingredients together first, then add egg. Mix, and add ground beef. Shape into balls, about the size of golf balls. Place on outer edges of a microwave bacon rack, or just use a plate. (You are making a “wreath” shape, they’ll cook better this way). Microwave in 2-3 minute increments. You’ll see the beef turn brown, and give up it’s grease. Drain balls on paper towels.


Sauce– (“doctor” up a jar of sauce to save time!) No measurements given, just add according to your taste.

1 can/jar any flavor spaghetti sauce

minced garlic

crushed basil

crushed parsley


red pepper flakes to taste (just a pinch or two!)

1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

Heat in a large sauce pan on the stove and add cooked meatballs. Taste test to make sure it’s good!

1 pound spaghetti noodles, boiled, and buttered


I always served spaghetti and meatballs with a tossed salad, green beans, and garlic toast. I just used regular sandwich bread, toasted in the toaster, then buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt. Viola! Easy garlic bread. Easy meal.

I live in a rural area on a farm, 6 miles from town. I know many of you do, too. Even if you don’t, it’s such a hassle to run to the store to get supplies for supper. If you get a hankering for tacos, but don’t have a seasoning packet around, make your own! The following is a recipe I use all the time, (honestly it’s better than the seasoning packets). I hope you like it! Hint: make double the seasoning and save half for next time!

Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion (can also use fresh if desired)

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon beef bouillon cube

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash onion powder


Ok, again, it’s in the technique. I use 2 pounds of ground beef. I mix up the seasoning, and instead of browning the beef first, I add the seasoning directly to the ground beef and mix it up before browning! (This is how they make sausage, they add seasoning to the meat) It gives it better flavor. You can even let the meat sit a while before browning to blend the flavors together. Then just brown the beef as you normally would, drain, and you’re done, ready to serve!

Here’s another tip to save money on tacos: buy corn tortillas and brown them in oil. You can get about 30 tortillas for less than $3.00! Just heat about an inch of oil in a small sauce pan on your stove, fry each tortilla until desired crispness. We leave ours still pliable. It’s a cross between a crisp corn tortilla and a flour tortilla! Yum!

I like to buy cans of nacho cheese to use on my tacos. I throw a half a cup of it in a bowl and heat it in the microwave, and let my family spoon on what they’d like. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream for a really yummy supper!

Here’s another easy recipe, and a great tasting one! You might actually get your kids to eat some vegetables with this recipe! (If your family doesn’t like broccoli/cauliflower mix, just substitute any other mix of vegetables.) Pick up the ingredients to have on hand so you can whip it up in a jiffy. I use cooked, canned chicken to save time.

Lattice Chicken Potpie Recipe

Lattice top chicken

1 can condensed cream of potato soup

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken (can used canned)

1 bag frozen broccoli, carrots & cauliflower, thawed and drained (or use any other vegetable mix)

1 cup (7 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

1 can (2.8 oz.) Durkee french fried onions

1 pkg. refrigerator crescent rolls

Combine soup, milk, salt, vegetables, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 can french fried onions. Place in an 8 X 12 baking dish. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Unwrap rolls, cut into strips, and make a lattice top on the casserole. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes longer. Top with remaining cheese and onions, bake 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings.

Speaking of saving time, when was the last time you had family portraits done? Can’t remember? Maybe it’s time. I’m a professional photographer who would be honored to help you get “portraits today…heirlooms tomorrow.” Click on this Link  and I’ll get back to you!  I offer affordable packages that will help you capture the reason you’re working so hard and are so busy: your family. I’m anxious to meet you, so contact me today!