My favorite hack for family meal planning is an Excel spreadsheet. In this spreadsheet, I've compiled almost 100 recipes, although "recipes" is almost too generous of a term. These are my Elevator Recipes, and the criteria is that the recipe has to be so simple, and have so few ingredients, that it can be explained to a friend during a short elevator ride. I borrowed this idea from Jenny at Dinner a Love Story and it's been a lifesaver during these years of small children and short attention spans (mine and theirs).
Aside from meeting the elevator rule, I have a few other rules for a recipe to make the list. It has to be something that most people at my table will eat, (and if they won't eat the whole thing, there is at least one component that they will tolerate). It has to be fast (30 minutes or less to put together), budget-friendly (lots of ideas come from Budget Bytes) and healthy (at least one vegetable, and lots of vegetarian options). And I must be able to make it with my eyes closed, on an elevator.
This Chicken Tortilla Soup "recipe" is one of the few magical meals that 100% of my family will eat, and it is so easy, and so tasty. Bowl-licking tasty. The salsa verde is the secret weapon to add a bit of spicy tang. What meals are on your Elevator Recipe list?
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Elevator Version)
Cook some chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in a stock pot. Cover with chicken stock to 2/3rds full and bring to a boil. Add a few chicken thighs and boil for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Add a couple of cans of white beans, a jar of salsa verde, and a spoonful of cumin.
Serve with sour cream, limes, grated cheddar, cilantro, jalapeños and crushed tortilla chips for topping. Delicioso!
This is not a picture of my chicken tortilla soup, but this one does have an actual recipe.
Here are three more:
Food52's roundup of (Not) Recipe recipes
Would you try a Dolly Parton ice cream flavor?