We did it! We survived a meal in which Grandma made 15 dishes and a toddler ate one roll. We're calling it a win.

But now begins the battle. I'm trying to plan a week of family meal when there isn't a normal week on the calendar until 2016. This week is the school party. We're gone next weekend. Add to that the Light Up, Zoo, Science Center, Santa-everywhere events and it's looking like a long list of TBD running across my meal planner.

So I'm calling in the big guns: The Slow Cooker.

Do you love your slow cooker? Because I'm passionate about mine.

I prep the ingredients the night before and pop them in the insert. The whole thing goes in the fridge until I'm ready to walk out the door the next morning. I set it, go to work, then come home with hungry kids to a yummy-smelling house. It's like having a personal chef who's too lazy to stay and help with the dishes.

The trick is finding ones that kids will eat, too. It's easy to do a whole chicken or spicy pork for taco toppings, but my kids are going to run their noses up at that, so I try to cater to their tastes (as long as it still fits with mine!).

Here's what we're eating this week:


My kids won't go for spicy, but they will eat pot roast, which is basically what these guys are. Plus, the meat is versatile enough that my husband can make nachos and I can have a scoop on my salad.


You read that right. This is a tasty lasagna that simply requires you to layer the ingredients in the insert (dry noodles and all) and walk away. If you have veggies your kids love, add them. The more the merrier!

You may have noticed I only put two recipes in. The lasagna will feed us twice, easily, and so will the taco toppers; I'll just dress it up different ways, like on a baked potato. So that leaves us one night free to have an easy favorite, like mom's mac n cheese or go out for a fun dinner with friends.

What are your tricks for getting dinner on the table during the holiday season?

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel