It seems like the month of May is always one of the busiest times of the year. Schools are closing for the summer, graduation ceremonies are taking place, wedding season kicks it into high gear, little league games are coming to an end and parents are trying desperately to transition their schedules from kids being at school to kids being at home. No matter what the situation is, you may find yourself in a frenzy at one point or another, trying to balance work, school events, extracurriculars, and herding in the family around the dinner table to enjoy a balanced meal together.
I know exactly what it’s like to get so caught up in the waves of life that other things begin to take a back burner or to be forgotten completely until the last minute. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to the end of my day, only to realize once that first rumble hits my tummy that I haven’t even thought about what I was going to feed my family for supper that night.
Those moments are always extra hard on me for some reason. It’s really important to me to give my family something delicious and nutritional, but it can be really difficult to balance our plates with options that are better for you, are kid friendly and accommodate our busy lifestyle.
The last thing I need is to spend an hour and a half of my night dedicated to food and meal preparation when time is already such a rare commodity. When I’m in need of a scrumptious meal that my whole family will love, I turn to Stouffer’s Family Size Macaroni and Cheese to help us balance our plate and fill our tummies with something delicious and nutritious.
While homemade meals are the “golden standard” for many families, we live in a busy world where whipping up homemade meals every night can be challenging. Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese is an easy solution that you can feel good about feeding your family. To build a balanced meal, use frozen prepared foods as your base and pair with an easy-to-make side dish made of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy.
Sneaking the vegetables onto our plates can be a whole new challenge in itself when it comes to pleasing my sometimes-picky little girl. One trick that I’ve found to be fool proof for us is to “disguise” the vegetable as something she already loves. When the nights get busy and I need to make a vegetable dish in a pinch, I always spring for my Crispy Baked Green Bean Fries – a fun and healthier twist on traditional french fries that are ready in about 20 minutes, easy to make and a huge hit with my entire family – especially my french fry loving kiddo!
While the Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese was cooking in the oven, I started prepping the green beans to make the Crispy Baked Green Bean Fries. I opened up a fresh bag of green beans and washed them thoroughly, making sure to remove the stems off of each one.
Next, I prepared 3 different bowls for dipping the green beans in. (Scroll down to find a full recipe and list of ingredients used to make this dish.)
The first bowl was full of all purpose flour. I coated each green bean in flour, and then immediately dipped them into a second bowl that had freshly whisked eggs in it. Once the green beans were good and coated from the egg wash, I then dipped them into the third bowl which contained a mixture of Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and a few different spices and seasonings.
Once they were good and coated, I laid them out side by side on a baking pan and baked them for about 10-12 minutes, or until they were thoroughly cooked and nice and crispy.
Crispy Baked Green Bean Fries are such a great way to incorporate vegetables into your meal in a really fun way. My daughter loves to dip them in ketchup just like a regular french fry, but I feel much better about her eating these since they’re a vegetable and contain no grease. It’s a win/win!
Once they came out of the oven, it was really hard for me to behave myself and not eat them by the handful. I could curl up with a basket of these bad boys and eat the whole thing in one sitting! Luckily the Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese only had just a few minutes left in the oven, so I went ahead and started preparing our plates around the dinner table.
During those last few minutes that the mac and cheese was cooking away, the aroma that filled my house was absolutely heavenly! The warm, rich cheesy and buttery smell literally made my mouth water before I even took it out of the oven. My family couldn’t wait to dig right in!
Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese recipe includes real, simple ingredients, like freshly made pasta, cheddar cheese, milk and butter. It’s a great staple to keep stocked in your freezer at all times, because serving your family a balanced meal with a side dish that’s this amazing will make you the MVP of dinnertime forever! 😉
Here’s a free printable copy of my recipe for crispy baked green bean fries so you can add a little veggie fun to your weeknight meal tonight!
- 1½ lbs fresh green beans - washed and ends trimmed
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp creole seasoning
- ¼ tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- Thoroughly wash green beans and remove ends
- Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with olive oil or nonstick spray
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs together well
- In a separate large bowl, combine Panko, Parmesan cheese and seasonings
- Add all purpose flour to a third bowl
- Doing a small handful at a time, dip green beans into flour, coating well
- Then dip green beans into egg mixture, immediately followed by the bread crumb mixture
- Lay green beans out onto baking sheet in a single layer and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
As much as I’d love to have the time to make all of my family’s meals from scratch, my busy schedule just doesn’t permit for me to be able to do that every night. Frozen prepared foods are a great time saver and there are so many new dishes and flavors to choose from. They’re the perfect secret weapon to help me save time, keep my sanity, and make sure that my family has a balanced meal to enjoy together – even on the busiest of nights when I have limited time to cook!
We served our Stoffer’s Macaroni and Cheese with my favorite protein in the history of the world – good old fashioned southern pulled pork! The entire meal came together in the perfect amount of time. It was incredibly delicious, well balanced and our little one absolutely approved!
Do you have a side dish that you think would pair perfectly with Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese? What are some simple ways that you balance your plate even on the busiest of nights? Leave a comment below and share the love!