Super-Easy, Kid-Approved Meal Train Go-To Recipe: Chicken Pesto Penne Pasta

Happy Friday! Does everyone have fun weekend plans? I’m excited because one of my good friends, Grace, is coming over for a cooking day tomorrow. We each plan on preparing two meals (but doubling the recipe), so we each go home with four meals! I’ve done this in the past (Hi, Abby and Steph!), and let me tell you, nothing beats having meals prepared for the week AND enjoying some quality time with a good friend.

Speaking of cooking and friends, I wanted to share with you all my super-easy, kid-approved meal train go-to. Now that’s a mouth full. Our church does an excellent job serving families with new babies by setting up meal trains as the family adjusts to life with their new addition, so I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make meals for other families. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a meal train, and can I just say what a blessing it is to have a meal delivered when you are exhausted and out of sorts? Taking a meal to a family (or individual) recovering from illness (or passing of a loved one), a family who has just moved into a new home, or a family who is enduring financial difficulties are also great opportunities to serve those you love and care for.

The options are endless as far as what you can bring to a family, but, based on experience, may I offer two suggestions for your meal?

  • Make a meal the family can freeze. This is especially important when families are getting multiple meals a week and can’t eat fast enough to keep up!
  • Consider the entire family. Kids are picky, amiright? Choose a meal that pleases the masses.

Of course, there are other important things to consider like the dietary needs of the family, whether or not a nursing mom is trying to avoid certain spices, etc., but I wanted to specifically point out the above recommendations and share a recipe that meets the criteria!

And the best part?

Without having to double the ingredients, your recipe makes two meals! One for them…one for you! Done and done.

I found this recipe several years ago and have adapted it over time. Here’s what you’ll need:

Chicken Pesto Penne Pasta

  1. 16 ounce cooked chicken (I used to prepare the chicken a day ahead of time, but now I buy the fully cooked chicken strips, usually located by deli meats)
  2. 4 Cups (usually 2 bags) of shredded Italian cheese
  3. One jar alfredo sauce
  4. One 8 oz. jar pesto
  5. 1-1.5 cup milk
  6. One box penne pasta
  7. Two heaping handfuls of spinach* (optional)

*I used to include spinach in my dish, and honestly, once cooked, you can’t even taste it. HOWEVER, Hank and Nora started picking it out, so I stopped adding it because it turned into a big mess. And you know we don’t do messes.

Ok, are you ready for the cooking instructions? Brace yourself. It’s tough.

  1. Cook penne according to package instructions.
  2. Once cooked, drain and add all other ingredients. Mix together.
  3. Divide mixture between two, greased 9 x 13 casserole dishes.
  4. Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 min.

If you want to save one of the dishes, you can freeze it for up to three months. Easy, no?

Have a great weekend! Happy cooking!

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