30 Days Of Dads – Challenge 13



Today’s challenge…cook something for your family.  Our friend Derek at www.dadwithapan.com was awesome enough to write a guest blog for today’s challenge.  Check out his tips and great easy recipes below.  Go get em…this is the #DadLife

Getting in the kitchen can be intimidating. What pan do you use? What temperature do you set the oven to? What the heck is this thing in the drawer?! I know, before I was domesticated I didn’t know what a fork was either. Cooking your own meals definitely takes some practice to get down, and can take a little effort to get started, but you know what? Since my family has begun, nothing gives me more pride to see my wife and son at the end of the day eating a great home cooked meal together as a family at the table. Makes it all worth it.


I’m a firm believer that families should eat dinner together as a family at the table. Not separately, not in front of their devices or the TV, but at the table, having good family conversations, eating good home cooked meals! Growing up as a child, this is what I knew, and it had a huge impact on my life. There were meals my mother would make that I looked forward to as always, she was the main cook in the house. But when my dad cooked, I always knew we were in for something special! He didn’t have a lot of recipes up his sleeve, but what he lacked in quantity, he made up for in quality!

Now even though my son is on the brink of turning 2, I can already tell, and am sure the veteran dads could tell you, they grow up fast! They’ll be out on their own before we know it. And with today’s technology, we as parents get so little time to interact with our children without distractions.  So whether you’re a seasoned vet or a rookie dad like me, use a delicious dinner as an incentive to get them at the table now! Make it something they look forward to at the end of their day, an opportunity to have a conversation as a family and eat a great meal!

Need Some Tips?

I’m going to be totally honest. I cook a lot, and during the week, it’s not going to be fine dining on the table. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to taste amazing! Here’s some tricks I use to get quick meals on the table that are still delicious

Off The Shelf Items.

I don’t heavily rely on a lot of off the shelf packages, I’m more of a perimeter shopper, but if there is something that will make a meal get on the table a little quicker without me having to spend 20 bucks (and it’s only going to go up) to drive through and pick up something, I’ll do it! Some items I’ll usually get are marinades, canned beans, instant mashed potatoes (not the boxed crap. get the ones in the packages).


I LOVE TO GRILL! Any excuse I have to throw something on my grill I’ll take it. I think it was actually what I first started cooking on as a teenager. In my opinion, cooking on a grill is relatively easy when you think of the amazing flavors you get out of food that is cooked on the grill. Plus, it keeps the kitchen cooler which keeps that AC running less!

Here’s a great example of something I’ll throw together on a summer weeknight Using the above tips cooking up some sirloin and vegetable kebabs:


  • 2 lb sirloin steak
  • 1 bottle of pineapple teriyaki sauce
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 1 package idahoan butter herb instant mashed potatoes
  • 4 ears corn on the cob


  1. Cut sirloin into cubes, bell pepper and onion into 1 inch squares, place on skewers. Coat with some of the teriyaki sauce.
  2. With the rest of the teriyaki sauce on hand, place skewers on the grill and basted every other minutes while turning. Place Corn on the top rack of your grill.
  3. Should take about 7-10 minutes. Keep basting. Take them off the grill and let them rest for a a few minutes and cook the potatoes according to the package.
  4. Take corn off the grill after about 10-15 minutes, serve and enjoy

Cook Time: 20 Minutes.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes.

Serves: 4 People.

Cook in bulk

If I know things will be hectic in the upcoming week, or that money is just going to be tight, I’ll cook a large meal that can be turned into a few meals, or the family doesn’t mind eating it a few times during the week. This will happen on a Sunday, and I’ll store it in the fridge, or freezer depending on when we’re planning to eat the leftovers. This will save you time and stress during a busy week, not to mention save you lots of money!

Embrace The Slow Cooker

I have a love hate relationship with the slow cooker. I love that it cooks your dinner while you’re at work, but I hate that it’s easy to get carried away and rely on it to cook you dinner every night! Machines, they’re taking over the world!!! I love slow cooking meals that I know don’t need to be watched under scrutiny in order for them to come out right. Soups, Chicken, and.. CHILI!

Chili is super cheap to cook, and can make a great meal to repurpose throughout the week. I mean chili can go on anything, so if you don’t want to eat it as a meal in itself, find something to pour it on!

Chili Seasoning

  • 4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cayanne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

Chili Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs ground beef 15% or lower
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 30 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz pinto bean
  • 32 oz Kidney Beans


  • 4-6 oz grated cheese
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1-2 large jalapenos
  1. Add all the chili seasoning spices together and mix.
  2. Chop the onion, 1 jalapeno and the garlic for the meat.
  3. take about a cup of kidney beans and a cup of pinto beans and put them in a blender. This isn’t an exact science, the more you use the thicker your chili will be.
  4. Blend for about 2 minutes and set aside.
  5. Brown the ground beef for about 5 minutes and drain.
  6. Mix in about 3 tbsp of the chili seasoning, 2 tsp of salt, and the onion, garlic and pepper you chopped.
  7. Cook for about 2 minutes, chopping up the meat into small pieces.
  8. Add the meat mixture, tomatoes, and beans. Stir together.
  9. Now add the bean paste, 2-3 more tbsp of chili seasoning and 1 sliced jalepeno.
  10. Cook for about 4-6 hours in the crock pot on low.
  11. When read, turn the heat off and let it sit for about 30 minutes. add the remaining 2 tsp of salt slowly, tasting as you go until you get the flavor that you want.
  12. Top with garnishes and enjoy!!

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook time 4-6 Hours

Serves: 16 people (or 4 people for 4 days)


Salads are always a great way to get a good fresh and tasty meal on the table quickly. One of my favorite’s is throwing together a king louie salad.

You can save some money here by chopping your own lettuce and cooking your own shrimp, but it’s all up to you.

  1. Chop up a head of red leaf lettuce, large tomato, 4 mushrooms 3 hardboiled eggs.
  2. Add 2oz grated cheese, imitation crab.
  3. Grill up a half pound of shrimp marinated in some lemon butter and garlic.
  4. Throw everything together and serve with a wedge of lemon and tradtional tuousand island or ranch dressing if you’re a ranch family like ours! Feeds family of 4.


This brings me to the last point. Making leftovers fun. I’ll normally make my meals with the intent to reuse it some way shape or form the next day. My go-to way to do leftovers? Burrito’s or tacos! If I’m not reheating and eating my leftovers as is, I’m trying to cram it into a burrito or eating it as a taco. Makes life super easy and everyone is happy with it served up with a can of refried beans and some easy spanish rice, which is 1 cup white rice, 1 1/2 cup chicken broth and a can of el pato tomato sauce all thrown into the rice cooker.

For example, I took this lemon and soy sauce marinated grilled chicken


And turned it into chicken tacos for dinner the next day:


I hope this has got the wheels turning for you on cooking a great meal for your family! Dinner doesn’t always mean spending hours in the kitchen orchestrating all your components to create a fancy dining experience in the home. As long as you’re cooking something tasty that the whole family will love, you’ll be creating wonderful memories and a great tradition that hopefully your children will pass on.

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