Yeah … not so much.
But I do have six guys in my family who need to eat every day! Seriously. Every. Single. Day.
When I do cook, I like to prepare healthy meals that must be:
- Easy to prepare
- Budget-friendly (six males; every meal!), and
- Contain ingredients people of all ages, from preschoolers to adults, will enjoy.
Believe it or not, it can be!
Awhile back I heard about Mexican Mondays and thought they were a great idea. My boys also devour refried beans — and I like making them because they offer an easy opportunity to get fiber in their bellies and veggies on their plates. Mexican food easily incorporates fresh veggies like tomatoes and lettuce, so there’s another win right there. Plus, it’s easy to prepare a meal without breaking the bank. WIN, WIN, WIN!
You want to know another bonus? This meal offers a great way to incorporate the kids. Little ones love assembling tacos (this means they likely won’t be textbook perfect … refried beans ARE going to be on the inside and outside of the shell, but I love it)! Bigger kids can help heat up the bean and enchilada sauce, and the biggest kids can get the crock pot set up.
Here’s are a couple of my favorite Mexican Monday recipes. Honestly? Each could (have been) meals on their own. But they compliment each other nicely, so I thought I’d share them both with you.
Shredded Chicken Tacos with Wilted Rice Salad
Shredded Chicken Tacos:
- 4-5 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Old El Paso Original Taco Mix
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Water or Broth (Chicken, Vegetable, or Beef)
- Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff Shells
- Old El Paso Vegetarian Refried Beans (warmed)
- Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce (warmed)
- Old El Paso Chopped Green Chiles
- Chopped iceberg or other crunchy lettuce
- Diced tomatoes (I’ve got cherry tomatoes fresh from your the garden in this recipe today)
- Optional: sliced black olives and jalapenos. I recommend both!
Wilted Rice Salad:
- Romaine lettuce, sliced in half with tops cut off
- Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- Old El Paso Cheesy Mexican Rice
- Optional: shredded cheese
- Corn (I grilled the corn myself in a super easy way…recipe is in the slideshow)
Shredded Chicken Tacos:
- Whisk together the taco mix, olive oil, and water. Seriously, as soon as you start whisking, you’ll be looking forward to dinner. It smells divine.
- Then just place the chicken breasts in a crock pot, pour that delicious marinade over them, and forget about dinner for a while. Cook on high for four hours, low for eight, or according to your crock pot’s instructions and your timetable. The best part about this step? You don’t have to worry about overcooking. That yummy marinade keeps infusing the chicken with flavor.
- When they are done, they will be a juicy, tender mess. YUM. Then, it’s as simple as assembling the tacos themselves.
- Assembly time: I recommend refried beans on the bottom (they are nice and sticky and help hold everything in!), top with the shredded chicken, and then the lettuce and tomatoes (and whatever else you like). Drizzle some of that enchilada sauce on the top of you like.
Wilted Rice Salad:
Do you like cheesy yumminess? You’re in luck. (By the way, this is great for entertaining. People think it’s fancy and that you spent a ton of time on it. Feel free to tell them our secret.)
This is so easy, it’s insane.
- Cook the Old El Paso Cheesy Mexican Rice according to directions (which is mixing the rice and seasoning mix with water and butter until it boils, and then allowing to simmer for 20-25 minutes … so easy!). Allow to rest and set.
- When the rice is done resting, take your bisected romaine lettuce and grill, flat side down, for about three minutes.
- Turn the romaine lettuce over, and you have your lettuce “boat.”
- Spoon the rice into the “boat,” and carefully top with your diced tomatoes and corn.
- Optional: shredded cheese. The delicious rice is cheesy enough, but if you have a cheese fanatic in the family, go ahead and sprinkle more on top.
*Another Bonus: If you have a kid (or two) that doesn’t like their food “mixed together,” these recipes are easily adapted. The chicken and rice are easily set aside, as are the refried beans and fresh veggies. Winning all around!
These recipes are so easy and delicious, they stand on their own, but I have compiled a few extra tips for you. They’ll help with these recipes and hopefully others as well. Plus, I’ll divulge my “secret” recipe for the perfect grilled corn on the cob.
Whisk the chicken marinade. 1 of 10
Like I said, the aroma alone makes you hungry. All you need to do is combine all of those yummy spices with the broth and olive oil ... your crock pot will do the rest of the work on the chicken breasts.
Get those sides prepped for the tacos. 2 of 10
Dice the tomatoes, chop the lettuce and olives, warm the enchilada sauce, plate the chopped green chiles. I like to come back for these tasks during the day when it's convenient. No pressure!
The only way you’re going to want to grill corn on the cob ever again. 3 of 10
When you have fresh, un-shucked ears of corn, you have a huge gift in your hands. Corn will never taste as good as good as it does when you follow these five steps. One, peel back the husk (don't remove!) and eliminate silky strands. Two, put the husk back into original position. Three, submerge the ear in icy-cold water for 10-12 minutes. Four, drain water an place on grill for 20 or so minutes, rotating occasionally.
How to know when the corn is done? 4 of 10
It will have bits of brown spots like this one. Also, the kernels will be plump and pop easily if you poke them with a fork. Once cooled, simply use a kitchen knife to shave off the kernels.
You’ll never think about grilling and lettuce the same way again. 5 of 10
If you've never grilled lettuce, you're in for a treat. They might not seem like they go together, but OH, DO THEY EVER. Romaine is ideal because it's so densely packed.
Put it all together! 6 of 10
Once those babies are turned over and had a minute to settle, take them off the heat. Spoon on the Old El Paso Cheesy Mexican Rice; the savory dish will start to melt into the lettuce ... top it with some diced tomatoes and your grilled corn. You? Well, you have a masterpiece. A delicious, healthy, easy masterpiece.
Now? It’s time for the tacos. 7 of 10
That chicken that's been cooking in the marinade all day? It's ready. And it is delectable.
You'll probably need a big, slotted spoon to grab the chicken out because it will be so tender that it will be breaking apart. Fortunately, this makes it super-easy to pile on top of the refried beans that you've already put in your taco shells.
Beans, chicken, lettuce, tomato. 8 of 10
Can you see the layers? Beans, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes?
Can you believe how easy this dinner was? 9 of 10
Seriously. The crock pot takes care of the main course. The rest is stove-top stuff (unless you want to use an outdoor grill, which of course is fine ... but not needed). That's the beauty of these recipes! They are deceptively easy.
Dinner? Is served! 10 of 10
When my boys see this on the counter, they know dinner is going to be delish.
If you loved these recipes, be sure to share them with your friends!