Sloppy Joes: Four Hacks to Survive (and enjoy!) Dinner

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I avoided making Sloppy Joes for a long time. Because I have kids. I know – they’re supposed to be a kid food, but they’re… well, sloppy. Not a big fan.

But when Amy at New Nostalgia posted her Sloppy Joe recipe, I had to give it a shot. She’s a trustworthy source and uses quality ingredients – no cans of mystery sauce here! And this tasty recipe was a winner with my family. Five out of five eat this up. But here are a couple “hacks” I’ve developed to make this a winner on the logistical side, as well.

1 – Lentils

The recipe calls for 1.5 lbs ground beef, but I have 1 lb. portions from the 1/4 cow we got last year. So to fill in the extra half pound, I use lentils. This is also a budget-helping tip for stretching any ground beef recipe because lentils are far cheaper than meat (also high in protein, fiber, and iron).

I put half a cup green lentils in one cup water and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer around 20 minutes. After cooking my 1 lb. ground beef, I just add the lentils and keep following the recipe. And the kids haven’t even noticed yet!

2 – Hot Dog Buns

This was an accidental discovery. I’d forgotten to buy hamburger buns and only had hot dog buns on hand. Turns out, they’re perfect for little hands! Hot dog buns are easier to hold than round hamburger buns, plus they have one side closed which means fewer directions for the meat to fall out.


3 – No Shirt

This only applies to those at the table under age two. Tomato-based sauces are my laundry enemy. Just forget the bib, they’ll just get ripped off and the sauce gets everywhere anyway. Bare skin is easier to wipe down at the end, and even better if you just meal plan Sloppy Joes for bath night.

4 – Leftovers

I like to remix leftovers – and this recipe makes plenty for leftovers. So I didn’t toss that sloppy goodness back in a bun for Night Two. Meet the Cheesy Joe Tots.

This was as easy as making tater tots, covering them in the Sloppy Joe mix, and then topping with cheese. Yum!

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So don’t be afraid of Sloppy Joes any more. With these four hacks, you’re on your way to a happy and healthy family dinner. Life is a little sloppy, bring it on.

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