3 Easy Casseroles That Will Feed the Family All Week

When it comes to family meal planning, casseroles truly are a mom’s best friend. Not only can you make large batches that can be eaten throughout the week, but you can also choose to freeze half of what you cook and then pull it out in a couple of weeks and pop it in the oven when you are short on time.

Picture from recipes.howstuffworks.com

Even better, is that most casseroles have similar ingredients allowing you to buy in bulk and save money when you go grocery shopping. A few of our healthy and delicious casseroles include:

 

Texan Ranch Casserole

If your family likes the flavors of Tex-Mex, then they will definitely like Texan Ranch Casserole. Although a little more time-intensive than any of the other casseroles on the list, it is by far the most filling, and the leftovers keep wonderfully making your effort even more worthwhile. Ingredients for this casserole include:

*  1 large, finely chopped onion

*  2 finely chopped celery stalks

*  1 finely chopped medium green pepper and red pepper

*  1 clove of finely chopped garlic

*  1 10oz can of cream of chicken soup and cream of celery soup (low-fat, low sodium)

*  3 cups of cooked chicken breasts, cubed

*  1 10oz can of Rotel

*  12 corn tortillas cut into one inch strips

*  2 cups of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

*  1 Tbs of chili powder

*  1 Tbs of canola oil

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and simply put all diced veggies – minus the Rotel – into a large pan to sauté in the canola oil. Once tender, mix in the chicken, the soups, undiluted of course, the Rotel, and the chili powder. Once mixed, remove from heat.

In a greased 13×9, place six of the cut up tortillas on the bottom and then cover with half the veggie mixture, and then one cup of the cheese. Repeat the layering again, starting with the remaining tortillas and ending with the remaining cheese. Then pop the casserole in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

A serving of the casserole is filling, barely over 300 calories, and it is also easy to pick and choose your favorite ingredients or add in additional without compromising flavor. My kids hate green peppers so I leave them out, but instead throw in some black beans for extra fiber and protein. On occasion, I will even make this dish vegetarian so that I can use it for nachos or enchiladas later on in the week.

 

Tuna Nuna Casserole Lite

Most kids aren’t partial to fish unless it comes in the form of fish sticks; however, the great macaroni and cheese-like flavors of this Tuna Nuna Casserole, kids hardly notice the low fat, protein packed tuna fish in the dish. The ingredients for this include:

* 1 13.5 oz package of all wheat elbow macaroni or rotini

* 2 10oz cans of cream of mushroom soup (low-fat, low sodium)

* 2 cups of reduced fat cheddar cheese

* 1 ½ cups of skim milk

* 2 13oz cans of water packed tuna, drained

* ¼ teaspoon of salt

 

Tuna Nuna Casserole is fairly easy to whip up. Simply preheat the oven to 350 degrees, cook the pasta according to the box directions, and while that’s cooking, mix all the other ingredients together in a large bowl and combine the drained, cooked pasta in when it’s done. Pour the mixture in to a greased 13×9 pan and cook for 30 minutes. If you would like, you can even crumble saltine crackers or regular potato chips over the top for an extra crunch.

You can also make this dish a bit more nutritious by throwing in ingredients like mushrooms, tomatoes, or chopped spinach if your kids will eat them. Mine pick them out of the casserole so I just make a side salad to accompany the casserole. Otherwise, Tuna Nuna casserole is always a hit, and the leftovers are great even cold.
Cheesy Chicken and Rice

You really can’t beat anything cheesy when it comes to pleasing kiddos, and cheesy chicken and rice is definitely a favorite in our household even though it has both cauliflower and broccoli. Out of the dishes listed, this is by far the easiest to create and only requires to following ingredients:

* boxes of Cheese Rice by Rice-o-Roni

* 1 bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix

* 1 10oz can of Cream of Broccoli soup (low sodium)

* Chicken breasts – 4 is average, but as many as 6 can fit

* 4 Tbs of butter or margarine

 

To create the dish, all you do is preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and pour 4 cups of boiling water over the two boxes of rice in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Once the cheese powder is adequately mixed in, add your veggies.

In a separate bowl mix your uncooked chicken breasts with the cream of broccoli soup. Once marinated, place the breasts in the rice mixture. Using a spoon, drop the remaining undiluted soup around the pan, along with the four tbs of butter. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken breasts are thoroughly cooked. Remember to occasionally check the dish, as you may need to stir the rice to make sure it is all evenly cooked.

Making sure your family has a healthy meal on their plate every night can be a difficult task, especially if you are a military spouse single-handedly taking care of a whole family; however, planning ahead and finding recipes that are great as leftovers is the perfect option. In fact, with a few great casserole recipes up your sleeve, you can quickly whip up meals, satisfy your family, and take pleasure in knowing that you can serve it later again in the week.

So stop worrying about what’s for dinner when your to-dos on your list is already busting at the seams. Simply use one of the above casserole recipes and you’ve got an inexpensive, healthy dinner your family is sure to love.

Maya Szydlowski is a community manager for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.
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