Co-author: Julia West
Tasked with either packing up or unpacking your home, the last thing on your mind during moving week is putting together a decent meal. But cooking meals at home may your best bet – home-cooked meals are often more nutritious, giving you the energy you need to keep packing, and they are less expensive than ordering takeout all week.
Meals made from scratch don’t have to be a chore during moving week. With just the kitchen basics, some pantry staples, and a strategic run to the grocery store, you can create a week’s worth of wholesome meals that are tasty and easy to put together.
Here’s our list of 10 tasty, low-maintenance meals that will keep a family of four well-fed and ready to keep on packing. You can double the recipe if you’ve recruited family members to help with the – literal – heavy lifting!
While canned soup is an easy out to feed your household, you can put together your own homemade soup without taking up too much time and effort. Soups are a great way to fill the family up without too much clean up – all you need is a big pot, some bowls and utensils.
With this in mind, here’s our recipe for a one-pot Zuppa Toscana soup. You’ll need:
- ½ pound of Italian sausage or any ground meat of your choice
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 medium potatoes, cubed
- ½ bundle of kale, leaves stripped and coarsely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- ½ cup of whipping cream
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a large pot, sauté your sausage meat or ground meat for a few minutes before adding in your onions. Cook both ingredients until the meat has nicely browned and your onion has softened. Add your garlic to sauté for another minute.
Add in your 2 cups of broth with 3 cups of water and bring your soup to a boil. Add in your potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes. When your potatoes are nearly done, throw in your chopped kale, stir in the cream, and bring the soup to a boil. Season to taste and remove from the heat.
This soup is a family favorite – there won’t be any leftovers!
Winner, Winner, (Sheet Pan) Chicken Dinner
Relying on your trusty sheet pan during moving week means putting together dinner to feed the whole family in record time. We’re talking 10 minutes of prep before throwing the sheet pan into the oven.
These dinners typically follow a template: a protein, usually chicken breasts or thighs, a starchy vegetable like potatoes or yams, and a green vegetable, like green beans or zucchini. But you can always play around with these combinations depending on what you have in your fridge and what’s most popular with your family members – swap out chicken for salmon and go for carrots, mushrooms, peppers, onions, broccoli or cauliflower for your fill of vegetables. The options are endless!
To spice up your ingredients, turn to your pantry staples. You’ll need olive oil or butter, and garlic powder, salt and pepper as a starting point. Herbs and spices also elevate the dish.
Here’s our go-to sheet pan dinner recipe. You’ll need:
- 4 chicken breasts, or chicken thighs
- 1 ½ pounds of baby potatoes, cut in halves
- 1 pound of green beans
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 garlic clove minced, or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- Optional: seasonings such as paprika or cayenne, and fresh or dried rosemary, thyme or parsley.
On your sheet pan, assemble your potatoes around your chicken, coat the ingredients with the olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, garlic and your spices of choice. Paprika, cayenne, and fresh or dried herbs like rosemary and thyme are most common with sheet pan dinners. You can even brush a mixture of Dijon mustard and maple syrup on your chicken if they’re on hand.
Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the sheet pan to quickly flip the chicken breasts and potatoes. Add your green beans to the sheet pan and make sure to toss the juices on the pan onto the vegetables before popping the tray back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
You can broil or grill for a final three minutes so the chicken and potatoes are golden and crisp. Remove the sheet pan, garnish with fresh chopped herbs and serve immediately while the pan juices are piping hot. Voila – dinner is served!
Casseroles are a great easy meal option because they don’t require a lot of attention while they are cooking. Simply throw in or layer ingredients in a baking dish and slide it into the oven – pretty easy!
A great casserole just has a homey feeling to it, which will make your new home feel even cozier. Casseroles are also great because you can throw just about anything into one. Any combination of ingredients such as rice, pasta, vegetables, beans, meats, etc., that you can think of would probably be great! Try out this chicken and rice casserole recipe for an ultimate cozy dinner with your family:
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed)
- 1 cup medium-grain white rice
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Optional: 2 cups of a vegetable like broccoli, 1 chopped tomato, 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped), Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, or 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Although this dish takes about 30 minutes, a majority of the cooking time is spent on the casserole simply sitting in the oven. Because of this, you are free to spend time packing, unpacking or whatever you are working on in the time being.
For the sauce, whisk the chicken broth and sour cream in a bowl, pour into a skillet and bring to a simmer (add in cheese if desired). Simply layer in the remaining ingredients in a baking dish and top with the sauce. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Instant Pot (or Slow Cooker) Chili
There is nothing more satisfying than digging into a big bowl of hearty chili. This crowd-pleasing dish is also your ticket to hands-off cooking because you’ll dump the ingredients into your Instant Pot or slow cooker and let it do the rest while you focus on your move.
Chili is such a versatile dish; you can tweak the recipe using what’s leftover in your pantry, from canned goods like a variety of beans, corn, and tomatoes, to frozen ground meat and bell peppers, and fresh ingredients like cheese, onions, sour cream and avocados.
To make a classic chili, you’ll need:
- 1 pound of extra lean ground beef (ground chicken or turkey work, too)
- 2 cans of beans of your choice (black, kidney, pinto, white)
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder if you’re in a hurry)
- A combination of seasonings. We like 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, salt, and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Optional toppings: sour cream, sliced avocados, shredded cheese, chopped green onions (just use what you have in stock!)
Put all the ingredients into your slow cooker, season and stir to break apart the meat. Then cook on high for three hours or on low for six hours and return to packing. If you’re using an Instant Pot, you’ll need to make a well at the center of the pot, exposing the bottom, to add a half cup of water. Set your Instant Pot to pressure cook for 20 minutes on high, let the pressure release naturally for about five minutes then quickly release the remaining steam.
You’ll know the chili is ready when its delicious aroma takes over your house! Give the chili a good stir again, then ladle generous portions into four bowls. Garnish with your toppings and dig in!
Skip the frozen or delivered pizza and flip that dough yourself! Pizza is an easy dinner option because it is always such a crowd pleaser. There are tons of simple pizza dough recipes, but if you want to avoid the wait for yeast dough to rise, you can opt for a no-yeast recipe. Below is a great no-yeast pizza crust recipe that is so simple, you’ll never turn to pre-made pizza again:
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
Because this dough will not rise, it makes the perfect “thin crust” pizza. Once the dough is mixed, kneaded and stretched out, throw on some tomato sauce, cheese and any toppings you want. Then simply bake your creation at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
A DIY Sandwich-and-Salad Bar
Who says sandwiches are only for lunch? If the word “sandwich” brings to mind the image of boring cold ham between two slices of pre-sliced white bread, think again! Tuna, egg salad, roast beef and mustard, BLT, even peanut butter and jelly – the combinations are endless when it comes to sandwiches. With your family tied up with moving week, and everyone in the middle of their tasks, set up a make-your-own sandwich and salad bar. All you’ll need is a toaster, bread, toppings and condiments – most of which you should have all packed up together. If you’re moving out of the house, you may want to use up all of the half-empty jars instead of taking them with you.
Create a savoury spread with cold cuts, eggs, leftover chicken or roast beef slices, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados and red onions, and condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, and salad dressings. Depending on what each of your family members are in the mood for, they can easily put together a sandwich or salad of their choice.
If you’re repurposing ingredients from your previous nights’ dinners, here’s our suggestion for a chicken and avocado sandwich:
- 8 slices of your family’s favorite sliced bread, lightly toasted
- 4 handfuls of roast chicken, shredded
- 2 avocados, sliced or mashed
- 2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- Salt and black pepper to taste
After toasting your bread, mash your avocados, season with salt and pepper, and spread onto half of your slices of toast. Top each slice with the tomatoes, a handful of roast chicken, and top with the second piece of toast.
It’s not for everyone, but we love adding chili flakes and sliced red onions to this sandwich.
10-Minute Asian Stir-Fry
Stir-fries are one of quickest ways to put together a tasty, budget-friendly dinner when you’ve had a busy day. They’re also packed with veggies making them a nutritional powerhouse.
Like your traditional sheet pan dinner, a stir-fry usually comes with three components: protein (like chicken, beef, or tofu), vegetables, and a basic stir-fry sauce you can whip together in minutes.
It’s a great way to make a satisfying meal with ingredients from your freezer. You may have frozen beef, peppers, peas or broccoli you’ll want to eat up before the move, or if you’ve just settled in, your grocery run should have all the produce you’ll need.
Here’s our recipe for a quick and easy beef and broccoli stir-fry on a bed of rice. You’ll need:
- 2 pounds of flank steak, cubed
- 4 cups of broccoli, diced
- 2 teaspoons each or salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
For the stir-fry sauce:
- 1 cup of soy sauce
- 1 cup of honey
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of ginger
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Start by mixing together all of your ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl. Heat your olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the beef, stirring the morsels around until brown. Pour the sauce into the pan and coat the meat. When the sauce thickens up, add the broccoli and stir again to coat the vegetables. Continue to stir-fry until the beef is cooked and the vegetables have softened.
Serve the stir-fry over a bed of rice, or egg noodles. Enjoy!
Keep in mind, other vegetables can be subbed out for the broccoli. Quick cooking vegetables include snap peas, celery, baby corn, snow peas, mushrooms and zucchini.
You can’t go wrong with pasta! Gone are the days of boiling and straining pasta while tending to another pan for your sauce; with most of your pots and pans packed up, you can quickly whip up a delicious pasta dinner in a single pot. That means easy clean up, too!
Here’s what you’ll need for our tried and tested basil and cherry tomato pasta:
- 12 ounces of pasta (we like linguine or spaghetti, but use what you have on hand)
- 12 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes (omit this step if you have family members who don’t like spicy food)
- 2 sprigs of basil, saving a handful of leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Lots of Parmesan cheese
Make sure you use a pot or skillet large enough for your pasta to lay flat, and combine all of the ingredients into the pot with 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, and as the ingredients boil, you’ll need to stir and turn the pasta frequently for about 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the water has evaporated into a saucy consistency.
If you have baby spinach, fresh or frozen, or other greens you’d like to throw in, you can add a handful in during the last few minutes to let them wilt.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and divvy up the pasta portions into four bowls, garnishing with the remainder of the basil, a bit more olive oil, and Parmesan.
While everyone is settling into your new home, full on breakfasts may fall to the wayside. But breakfast frittatas are an affordable, quick and tasty way to feed your household. Whether you’re scrambling, poaching or frying them up, you know how easy it is to whip up eggs and toast in the morning.
To make eggs more of a substantial breakfast meal to start the day, consider cooking up a frittata. In one pan, you’ll have a meal for the entire family.
Here’s our classic egg frittata recipe:
- 8 eggs
- 1 ½ cup of milk
- ½ teaspoon of herbs, such as dried thyme leaves or fresh basil
- 2 cups of any vegetables of your choice
- 4 teaspoons of butter or olive oil
- ½ cup of shredded cheese, savings some for topping
Beat your eggs with the milk, herbs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. When they’ve come together, add in your mixture of vegetables and cheese and mix well.
Heat your butter or oil in a non-stick flying pan or skillet on medium heat and pour in your egg mixture. Cook your frittata on medium heat until the eggs are almost set, which is about 10 minutes.
Remove the frittata from the heat and top with the remainder of your cheese. Let the eggs set, and then cut into quarters. Serve with toast.
Eggs pair well with a rainbow of vegetables – you can’t go wrong with broccoli florets, diced peppers, onions, peas, spinach, tomatoes. They’ll all taste delicious in your breakfast frittata.
Overnight Oats and Yogurt Parfaits
For real hands-free cooking, our trick to easy breakfasts are to put together overnights oats so your meal is ready to go in the morning. Like the other recipes we’ve listed so far, you can customize your overnight oats with a variety of toppings, depending on what your family likes.
For a classic recipe, here’s what we use:
- 2 cups of rolled old fashioned oats
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 cups of Greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons of seeds of your choice, including chia seeds, flax seeds or hemp hearts
- 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
- Optional: 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Fresh or frozen berries, like blueberries, raspberries or sliced bananas
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Sliced apples and cinnamon
- Chocolate chips
Mix all these ingredients together and then scoop into four separate glass containers. You can either add the toppings of your choice now on top of the oats, or the next morning immediately before serving.
Place the containers in the fridge, and the next day, your oats will be ready to go! Simply give your overnight oats a stir, add some more milk if you’d like to thin it out, and dig in!
Meal Kit Delivery Services
If you’re absolutely swamped with moving week and have your kitchen tools on standby but don’t have time to make it to the grocery store, don’t fret. Meal kit delivery services are plentiful across the country and come with everything you need to put together a family feast, right down to the sauces, garnishes and step-by-step instructions.
Simply visit websites such as HelloFresh, Home Fresh and Dinner Elf and look through their weekly menus to see which flavors look the tastiest. The menus look divine – lobster ravioli and shrimp, beef tenderloin with a shallot pan sauce, and pulled pork fiesta bowls. These may be recipes you’ll want to hang onto!
These services let you choose between different meal plans, if you prefer individual or family-style meals, and how many meals you’d like to have covered each week. They’re cheaper than takeout and you’re keeping your family away from processed food while honing your cooking skills! It’s a win-win situation.
Julia West is a content intern for NewHomeSource.
Carmen Chai is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has lived and reported from major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, London and Paris. For NewHomeSource, Carmen covers a variety of topics, including insurance, mortgages, and more.