Having a list of easy meals is immensely handy when I’m planning meals for the next four weeks. It’s even handier when dinner is canned and in my pantry.
To say that Wednesdays are busy is an understatement.
By 6:30am: make husband lunch & smoothie, see him off to work, start load of laundry
By 8am: make kids breakfast, drink coffee, switch laundry, dishes, complete chores, start exercising
9am: finish exercising, shower, get everyone completely dressed (including hair & makeup)
9:45am: everyone loaded in car, leave for bible study
11:45am: bible study over
12 – 12:45ish: weekly Costco trip
Around 1pm: arrive home, unload car, take a picture of trip, put away food, make lunch, eat lunch
2pm: Girl to nap, Boy to quiet time
2:10-3:45ish: Mommy computer work
4pm: both kids up and dressed for Awana, Mommy eats dinner, packs kids and Daddy dinner, packs books and bibles and vests (and whatever else is needed, like a dressed up hot dog or potato)
4:35pm: everyone loaded in car, leave for Awana
4:50pm: arrive at church, drop off kids with pastor’s wife, chat briefly
5pm: band practice
6:15pm: band practice over, find kids and take them to their Awana classes, feed husband, go to my Awana station
7:30pm: Awana over, wait for parents to pick up their kids
7:50pm: leave church
8:10pm: arrive home, get kids ready for bed, change into jammies
8:30pm: collapse on sofa
Time to cook dinner? Yeah right.
That’s why you’ll often (if not always) see “simple sandwiches” or “leftovers” slated for dinner that night. Mommy just can’t handle anything more difficult than that.
Just like many of you, spaghetti is one of our easy meals when life is busy… or when we’re simultaneously out of bread and leftovers!
Recipes for spaghetti sauce are kept close to the heart, like a well-hidden family secret. The scale ranges from Marinara (using mostly tomatoes and some basic spices) to Garden style (fresh chunky vegetables in a tomato-sauce) to Italian-style (hearty, meaty and sometimes chunky).
Our family spaghetti sauce is definitely Italian-style. It is a very hearty sauce, filled with two types of meat and as many vegetables as my crock-pot will hold. The kids love it, Mr. Crumbs adores it and it’s the only sauce that makes me look forward to spaghetti night.
True story – Mr. Crumbs took spaghetti to work one day for lunch. His co-worker eyed his bowl with a “man, that looks good” gaze. So Mr. Crumbs offered him a bite. He says, “Dude, that’s good! It’s like true Italian-style!” But his gaze still doesn’t turn… so Mr. Crumbs offers him another bite and he ate it!
The best part about this sauce is that one batch makes 5 quarts and besides a (very) little chopping, the crock-pot does all the work. Can it get any better than this?!
- ½ lb ground spicy pork sausage
- ½ lb ground beef
- 1½ cup par-cooked or cooked black beans (approx 1 can)
- 2 bell peppers (any color)
- 10 cloves garlic, halved
- 2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
- 2 stalks celery, each cut into large chunks
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- ½ Tbsp salt
- ½ Tbsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- ½ Tbsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 90 ounces of tomato sauce (I buy a large #10 can of tomato sauce from Costco (106oz) and usually end up with about 16 ounces leftover)
- Place everything except tomato sauce in a slow cooker.
- Fill the slow-cooker with tomato sauce and shake gently to move sauce down and into air pockets created by vegetables. Top the slow cooker with remaining sauce.
- Cook on the lowest setting for 8 hours. Using an immersion blender,puree everything until smooth.
- Taste for seasonings and add as necessary. Be careful - sauce will be hot!
- Continue cooking on low for another 2-4 hours. Sauce tastes better the longer the flavors meld.
- Serve with your favorite pasta.
Even though this sauce is meaty, we use it in every recipe calling for spaghetti or marinara sauce. The flavor makes dishes like lasagna and stuffed shells amazing!!
Unless you’re feeding an army, you’ll certainly have more than one night’s worth of spaghetti sauce at the end of the day. This sauce freezes and can be kept in the fridge safely (unsealed) for up to two weeks.
As written, this recipe costs $2 per quart, or $10 for the entire pot. Add 1 lb of your favorite pasta and you have dinner – with meat! for under $3. If you omit the meat, you can have a real food dinner for under $2!
What’s your spaghetti sauce style – Marinara, Garden or Italian?
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