2021 is going to have to shape up soon, because we didn’t think we’d be hitting the comfort foods so hard right now. How are we coping with the early sunsets, cold weather, anxiety-provoking news, and kids that still need love and care and feeding? Um, with mac and cheese and gooey pot pie, thank you very much.
This week (and next week, for that matter) we give you permission to set aside any ambitious goals you might have had for the new year, especially when it comes to cooking. If you want to stick with tried and true family meals, no problem. If you want to try some easy new recipes, fantastic! In which case, we’d suggest trying these guaranteed comfort food dinners that are pretty easy to make, and help everyone feel safe and warm at the dinner table.
With that in mind, here’s our meal plan for a week that feels like a year, complete with tips for reusing leftovers and cutting back on prep time and cooking.
We got this, parents. But we hope there aren’t too many more of these in 2021.
Also see more of our favorite comfort food recipes:
8 comfort foods that let you eat your feelings as long as you need it
Skinny comfort food recipes that gently ease you into healthier eating.
4 make-ahead stews for the unfussy, unfancy, comfort food holiday dinner we’re all craving
How to make an easy homemade chicken soup, for major comfort in a bowl.
How to roast chicken perfectly: Tips and recipes for mastering the ultimate comfort food.
5 easy vegetarian comfort food meals for cold nights, that even meat-lovers will like
This Vegetable Pot Pie at Toaster Oven Love is a family-friendly #MeatlessMonday meal and for some, the ultimate comfort food recipe. Of course, you can always add any leftover rotisserie chicken or shredded pot roast to your filling if you prefer some protein in there.
Just note: the recipe is only for 2 pot pies so you may have to double or triple, depending on how many mouths you’re feeding.
My tip is that you make the filling ahead of time and store a sealed, reusable container in the fridge, which not only cuts back on the waste from baggies, it makes it super-quick to prep for dinner.
I also recommend using mini pie pans (disposable mini pie pans are available too in a pinch) and doubling or tripling your batch, so you have easy dinners for later in the week, that can go from reheating to table in moments.
I love all the recipes from Grandbaby Cakes, and her Lobster Mac & Cheese recipe sounds like just what we need right now. This is indulgent, but good grief, we’ve been through a lot these last few months. Treat yourself. And yes, I do mean yourself.
As for the kids, make the base recipe with a few tweaks; instead of investing in 6 lobster tails, grab just one for the adults, then dice up some ham to substitute for the kids — or just leave it plain if they prefer. Nothing wrong with plain mac n cheese.
Double the recipe, and you’ve got a few hot lunches for the week taken care of as well.
Related: 6 decadent mac and cheese recipes for comfort food perfection.
Natasha at Salt & Lavender describes her Chicken Tetrazzini Soup recipe as a “hug in a bowl,” and I’m in. Especially because it’s ready in under 30 minutes.
Make this comfort food recipe easier on yourself with a ready-made rotisserie chicken from the grocer, or do what I do and roast several bone-in chicken breasts at the beginning of the week, that can be shredded all week long to use on salads or incorporate in dinners like these.
It’s such a good recipe, you might want to double it, because everyone’s going to want seconds. Plus, it reheats perfectly for lunch the next day, should you even have leftovers.
My kids have discovered Shepherd’s Pie this year, and I’m, so happy, because it’s such an easy make-ahead comfort food dinner — I prepare it early in the day, then stick it in the oven at dinnertime. For variation, my sister recommended I try this Lentil Cottage Pie recipe from Biting Into Life for my vegan husband, and it’s perfect.
Don’t be afraid of a vegan recipe if you’re not vegan! It’s okay to her recipe as a guide, then choose your own substitutions. I have been making one small batch for him with lentils, then adding ground beef or substituting the lentils completely for my kids.
Salisbury Steak is such a good hearty, warm dinner for winter months, yet I often forget to add it into my meal plan recipe rotation. I don’t know why, because it’s not hard and my kids love it. So, here’s a Salisbury Steak recipe that’s terrific! The Cozy Cook includes make-ahead directions that allows you to freeze it for up to 3 months before serving, so it’s an easy recipe to double or triple when you cook.
Serve it with some roasted veggies or mashed potatoes (in a slow cooker or use this trick for microwaves) and you have to serve biscuits, of course. And yes, I’m saying that as a southern mom.
All together, the recipe comes together in about 15 minutes, and that in itself gives me a little more comfort and al little less stress as I work out my meal plan for the week.
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