Summer is a distant memory, and school is back in session! Early mornings and after school activities are in full swing. As moms, it’s a split decision at this time of year. We welcome the structure and break during the day for ourselves, but the running around begins. Even if your child isn’t in activities outside of school, it’s still a lot of things to do. 

Well, let me introduce myself. I’m Ricci, mom to three humans and two dogs (RIP Sofi). I’m a single mom to these three, and my jam is organizing my house, so I’m not stressed out. It helps to be the levelheaded person in the house, because kids are going to come home with all kinds of issues ranging from homework to little (insert name here) doesn’t like me.  

What Does Food Have to Do With Any of That? 

When you have one task you don’t have to worry about, you have room to handle whatever comes your way. Learning how to manage your time is a beautiful thing.

Again, what does that have to do with food? 

When you use these dinner ideas I’m going to explain, you’ll see you have more free time, and less stress in the long run. 

  Back in the day, when my kids were younger, I planned out meals for the month. We do a ton of budgeting here. It’s lessened since they are young adults now (25, 24, and 18), but it still helps on a different level. Here’s 5 ideas for the fall that not only helps for dinner, but you get a bonus tip from them all. 

Pumpkin Turkey Chili 

This meal is a classic in my house. I wanted to incorporate healthier options in our meal plans, but also not break my bank. I have changed this recipe around a lot, so that I added new things my kids should eat but wouldn’t normally try on their own. This dish of pumpkin (canned or fresh), black beans, roasted corn, ground turkey, pepper and onion mix, and spices is a hit in our house with…..banana cornbread. Yes, you read that correctly. Banana cornbread. Bonus: you can make it in a crockpot as well. 

RELATED TOPIC: Favorite Banana Bread + Recipe

Hamburger Soup

This soup was a family tradition in my house when I was a kid and my kids wanted to change it up a bit to what they liked to eat. That’s the great thing about this “struggle meal” you can make it any way you want. I’m thinking about the next time I make it to try greens instead of spinach. You can serve with or without a pot of rice. 

Chicken & 15 Bean Soup

We discovered this by accident during the pandemic, early on and we were going through the cabinets to see what to fix. I discovered this bag of 15 bean soup. Now, I never cooked it before but it said, “Ham and 15 bean soup, recipe on the back”. Before Jennie-O discontinued their turkey ham, I bought that, diced the ham and added it to my slow cooker. I followed directions and cooked it with a pan of cornbread. It was great and now a staple in my house. The only difference is since the turkey ham was discontinued, we use chicken tenderloins and chicken broth.  

Cabbage, Potato and Sausage Soup

This is a family classic that I modified from a recipe my mom fixed for us. I also put this in the crockpot. Really basic, easy, and comforting for the family to enjoy. The bonus that is great in this dish is using different types of sausage. Right now, we tried a new brand called Gilbert’s Bourbon Apple Chicken Sausage. It’s a little more expensive but a little goes a long way, and the flavor gives something different to the dish. 

Homemade Ramen

This is a newbie to us. We love international flavors and dishes. We are also on a budget. When I did my research to recreate this dish at home, I was pleasantly surprised to know how cheap and easy it is. Now, the one rule to know is not everyone’s recipe is the same. I made sure my take on the dish was friendly to everyone’s taste in my home. A key component is cooking the protein either bone in or using bone broth. You can make your own if you wish, but the first couple times we tried it, we just used bone in chicken. Not only is this a great way to cook a full dinner in a crockpot, but this is a great way to introduce new veggies to picky eaters. 

        Did you see the trend in these? All in a crockpot and you can double the recipe.

More Time, Less Stress

You cook and eat half. You store the other half in the freezer. I have one day out the week we have “leftover” night. It gives me a break and no one is giving stank eye to the dinner choices. These are favorites that my kids like and they can choose dinner for themselves. It’s now to a point these five are REQUESTED at different points during the cool season.

I hope this helps not only with your food budgeting but also helps with just letting you have more free time for what you choose. It’s important to take care of yourself as a parent. 


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