Last month, I shared my ONE HOUR meal planning experiment.
As a work at home, home schooling mom of five, my days sometimes feel like a never ending roller coaster.
Thinking of the “What for dinner?” answer leaves me a bit light headed.
I have done many things over the years to “perfect” my Meal Time Mountain madness, but few things have been as beneficial as my one hour experiment.
The results? FIFTEEN meal options ready and waiting with only five minutes of prep time.

If you haven’t read my Meal Planning with a Twist post first…start here or the rest of my post won’t make a lot of sense. It will give you the background of how I was able to have 15 meal ideas ready to go with only a little over one hour of work. Seriously!

Since the last two weeks have been quite hectic in our home, I really got off track with meal preparations. I admit it…it happens to all of us. That is why I was grateful to have staples ready to go. The 5 o’clock dinner question was asked quite a few times, and frankly nothing was simmering…but within five minutes, their request was answered.

When I posted the ideas for the meal planning, many people needed the hard core recipes and wanted to know exactly what I did with what I had in the freezer. So here are the Mexican meals that I made…in five minutes of prep time.
I made enchiladas (both baked and cold) with the black beans, and rice/beef mixture. One week, I served them warm and made them up myself (as shown above).
The following week, I lined the burritos and toppings up buffet style and the kids could mix/match their own creation dolloping them with cheese, salsa, onions, pepper, lettuce, and sour cream (shown below).

One of my favorite meals of all times is the timeless taco salad. It’s a joke when we go out to eat because I almost always order a taco salad (and a side of fries…it’s a sickness, I know).
I was able to enjoy both beef taco salads and chicken taco salads in minutes since the meats were already cooked. I just needed to heat and go.


This taco casserole was one of the very first meals I made for my husband when we were married. Much laughter comes with this memory.
I cooked this in a brand new bake ware set that I received as a wedding present.  That set came with a plastic lid, and guess what I did….
If it comes with a lid, certainly I’m supposed to put the lid on the dish and bake, correct?
Sheesh…who knew?

The fire alarm in our apartment went off. The fire trucks came blaring. Everyone wanted to know what happened.
Yes, it was a proud Domestic goddess moment. And the true culprit?
My brand new beautifully melted plastic lid. How dare it destroy my gourmet creation.
And you can bet that my frugal nature tried to peel that plastic right off…I was NOT going to throw it away! hee hee

Sorry I don’t have a picture of it in layers…just imagine.

Taco Casserole – this is a melt in your mouth beef casserole recipe that combines easy with Tex-Mex. This is delicious made before hand and then heated up.

Of course, I always double this recipe, and pray for left overs. 🙂 As you perfect the recipe, you will make it your own. I added a layer of rice as a filler item which is always needed with my huge eaters. I vary this original recipe a bit now, but I am giving it to you the way I received it with my variations highlighted.

  • 1 pound ground beef (optional rice…my addition)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (peppers, tomatoes, and various shredded garden veggies in the summer time to make it a really healthy option)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 envelope of taco seasoning
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream (light sour cream works perfectly)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (have done it with all cottage cheese in a pinch)
  • 2 cups crushed tortilla chips (this is how I use up our crushed stale reminents in the pantry)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese (or whatever you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, brown the beef (oh yes, that was already done for me during my experiment), then drain off extra fat; remove from heat. Add onion, garlic powder, taco seasoning mix, and tomato sauce to beef; mix and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese; set aside. Place half the crushed chips in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish that has been coated with a nonstick vegetable spray. Add enough meat mixture to cover the chips, then cover the meat with half of the sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Repeat layers. Bake uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, until cheese melts and casserole is heated through.

This is just as good with ground turkey. It’s so rich that it’s almost as good as a hot dip.
This is frugal friendly as all of these items I get when they are deeply discounted.

Yes, we love Mexican and I can’t wait to try some of those that have recently been linked for Tasty Tuesday.

Have your ever done Once a Month cooking or an easier version like I have just shown you? Trust me….it’s well worth it.
So what have you been making lately?