My husband travels almost every week. Sometimes it is just overnight. Sometimes it is for the whole week. Although he hates when I say it, it is like being a part-time single parent. When he is home, we split the responsibility of cooking dinner. We both work during the day and one of us, or sometimes both, need to shuttle kids to and from their activities. When it is just me, I am in charge of it all.

When I cook dinner and my husband is home, I have a larger menu to choose from because he is not as picky as the kids. I make stews and soups and spicier food that the kids do not like, although I usually make a variation of the meal to suit their tastes. I also like to experiment with dinner and try new recipes. My kids are not very open-minded about that.

Honestly, I am starting to run out of ideas for dinners. I am sharing my list of meals we rotate through when my husband is gone. This list includes easy-to-make meals that everyone in the family will eat.

Breakfast for dinner – this is one of my kids favorite meals to eat when my husband is gone. He thinks it is ridiculous, which is why we eat it when he is gone. Some breakfasts are just pancakes; others include bacon, eggs and oven potatoes. Depends on our mood and how long I have to cook.

Italian beef sandwiches – super easy meal. I get the meat and au jus from the deli and buy fresh buns. I cut up fresh veggies or fruit and we have frozen fries to go with it.

Pulled pork sandwiches – I make this myself in a crockpot while I am working and plan for it to be ready when we get home from activities. For an even faster meal, they have those ready-to-eat pulled pork dishes in the meat section. Sides are similar to those served with Italian Beef.

Ham Steak – this dinner was put together quickly as I browsed in the meat department. I bake it in the oven as I would a regular ham. It takes 15-20 minutes. I made pierogies on the side and picked up a premade veggie tray. I also found some yummy rolls to eat on my way through the store.

Carpet picnic – my husband and I came up with this years ago. It is a meal that is meant to be eaten at the coffee table in front of your favorite show. It includes cheese, sausages, frozen shrimp or clams and fresh bread and fresh fruit, usually berries. The bread is broken off by hand and the meat and sausage is sliced at the table.

Tacos– This is another meal that can be made yourself or purchased in the ready to eat section. Cut up your favorite taco veggies, add cheese and/or sour cream and a packaged rice dish on the side. Dinner is served! Variations to tacos (and great for leftover meat) are nachos, taco salad and tacos in a bag. Buy a single serving bag of Doritios and smash them up. Open bag and pour in your meat, veggies, cheese, etc. Mix up and eat with a fork.

Every Man for Himself – This is a mom’s favorite meal, although my kids hate it. I think it is because they have to make their own dinner. I keep plenty of things on hand to make their own meal. They have come up with pizza bread made on English muffins, quesadillas, noodles with butter, cereal, frozen chicken nuggets or chicken patties for sandwiches, leftovers, waffles with ice cream (my mother fed it to us, although usually for lunch in the summer), etc. The whole point is that mom is not cooking and dad is out of town. You are on your own. We always have fresh fruit and veggies in the house so I encourage them to include it in their meal.

Pasta – I make my own sauce and meatballs for the five of us and whatever is leftover is frozen for nights when my husband travels. It is very easy to take it out of the freezer and warm it up while the noodles are cooking. If you don’t make your own sauce, Ragu is just as fast.

Make your own pizza – I thought this was going to be a fun thing, but it turned into a lot of work. We bought pizza dough, sauce, cheese and veggies and made our own pizzas. Turns out that ordering dinner would have been less work. Maybe I will try Boboli next time and make Mexican pizza!

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs – normally my husband makes these on the grill. However, the last time I grilled, I almost burned down the house so I stay away from it now. I cook them on the stove which is admittedly not as good, but better than cold cut sandwiches for dinner! Sides vary on our mood, but include rice or potatoes and fruit and/or veggies.

This is it – outside of carry out meals. If you have any quick and easy and most of all, kid-friendly meals, please share them!

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