A bowl of chili, one of several easy meals to make in between holiday cooking. |Meaghan Penrod, special to the Record-Journal

Easy dinner ideas to beat the holiday cooking fatigue

Easy dinner ideas to beat the holiday cooking fatigue

I think it’s safe to say we all love the big, extravagant meals that come with the holidays. There’s something so special and nostalgic about spending all day in the kitchen with your family, lovingly poring over every detail of a giant feast. But what about all the days in between the holidays when it’s not so special and frankly you’re burned out from cooking? You need some simple dinner ideas that are warm and comforting but super simple to throw together!

Below are three easy recipes to bust your holiday cooking fatigue while still delivering a delicious dinner. 


Instant Pot Chili 

This recipe is super easy in the instant pot, but can obviously be done in a regular pot as well.


1 lb ground beef or turkey

1 onion, diced

1 can of kidney beans (undrained)

1 can of diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 carton of sliced mushrooms

1 packet of taco seasoning of choice

    How to make it:

1. Brown your ground beef or turkey in your instant pot on the sauté setting. 

2. Add in a diced onion, a can of kidney beans (undrained), a can of diced tomatoes (undrained), a carton of sliced mushrooms, and a packet of taco seasoning. The taco seasoning is my surprise twist and is also a time saver!

3. Set the instant pot to cook on high pressure, sealed, for 20 min! Serve with desired toppings. It also goes great with cheddar biscuits (from a box mix). 

*You can do this without an instant pot too! Just brown your meat and onions, add in the rest of the ingredients, and simmer on low/medium for about 20-30 min. 


Shepard’s Pie

I don’t think people realize how easy Shepard’s Pie actually is! It’s basically ground meat and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes. And we use frozen, steam-in-the-bag veggies for this recipe to make it even easier.


For the mashed potatoes:

4 medium sized potatoes

1 tbs salt (for the water)

2 tbs butter

¼ cup milk (or more if you like a smoother consistency) 

For the meat filling:

1 lb ground beef, chicken, or turkey

1 onion, diced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

5 dashes worcestershire sauce

A bag of steamable frozen mixed veggies 

⅓ cup cheese (to top the whole thing with)

How to make it:

Boil your potatoes in salted water until fork-tender. Drain and mash with butter and milk. 

While the potatoes boil, sauté some onions in a big skillet. (It’s best to use an oven-safe one so you can do everything in one pan!) After a minute or two, add in your ground meat. Season with salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. 

Once your meat is browned, add in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. 

Add a bag of frozen mixed veggies to your skillet. To save time, I just microwave them and add them to the skillet so I don’t have to wait for them to cook. 

Spread your mashed potatoes on top of the meat and veggie mixture. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is all bubbly and the potatoes start to brown a bit. 


Fail Proof Muffin Tin Meatballs

I don’t know about you, but whenever I try to brown meatballs in a pot, they always fall apart on me. This recipe solves that problem and makes the whole process way easier! 


1 lb ground beef

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tbs Italian seasoning 

⅓ cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 jar of pasta sauce

Noodles of your choice

How to make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Boil your pasta according to package directions. Once it’s done, drain the pot and add your jarred pasta sauce to it so it can warm up.

In a bowl, add beef, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Mix until just combined.

Roll meat into equal-sized balls and place in muffin tin. Makes about 12 meatballs!

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min or until cooked all the way through.

Add the meatballs to your pasta sauce and serve over pasta!

And the best part about these meals? There’s usually leftovers to have for lunch or dinner the next day, making your life even easier. Enjoy!

Meaghan Penrod lives in Connecticut and is the creator of the gluten free food blog Low Key Gluten Free. She shares recipes, restaurant finds, products, and tips for living with Celiac Disease. You can follow her at @lowkeyglutenfree on Instagram and Facebook or check out her blog at lowkeyglutenfree.com.


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