In Which I Share Some Not-At-All-Original Ideas

Oh, I loved your comments about Sunday lunch. And yes, we do typically call it “Sunday dinner” in these parts. But I thought maybe saying “Sunday dinner” would make y’all think I was talking about supper – which would still be delightful, of course – so I went with the more typical diction.

There. I feel that I’ve overexplained enough. Remember, I am nothing if not a deeply annoying overexplainer.

Several of you asked how it’s possible to get post-church lunch on the table in a timely fashion, and I really don’t have a great answer to that question because, well, I’ve only done the big Sunday dinner thing twice. I do know, though, that whenever I cook for a crowd (I’ve bored you with those details already), the key is to do as much as possible ahead of time. Use the crockpot whenever you can. Buy a dessert at the bakery or put together something really simple the night before (brownies from a box, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, the end). And setting the timer on the oven is a great idea, only it doesn’t work for me because the clock on our oven is broken, thus rendering the timer feature completely useless.

But if it did work, well, you know, ACES.

Anyway, after I read y’all’s comments yesterday, I made a quick list of meals (besides the classic crockpot roast, carrots and potatoes) that would be fairly easy to pull off after church. They’ll require a little Saturday night prep, but now that we can’t all sit around and watch “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island,” what else do we have to do since Captain Stubing and Tattoo are nothing but a faint (albeit precious) memory? Plus, the payoff of the prep time is all manner of Sunday dinner deliciousness. Not to mention fellowship. Hallelujah.

Chicken Divan – I only use 1 can of cream of chicken but add a little more mayonnaise than this recipe calls for, and I also like to use a little curry powder. But the basic premise is the same. I’d buy a rotisserie chicken, assemble the dish on Saturday night, then pop it in the oven as soon as we got home from church. Serve with salad and rolls. Sometimes Mama would serve this with fresh fruit and poppyseed dressing, and we were all blessed beyond measure as a result.

Lasagna – Use your favorite recipe (I can’t find mine online) and assemble Saturday night. Put it in your oven when you leave for church and set the timer. Or make a yummy crockpot version that you can put together before you head to the church house. Serve with salad and French bread.

Chicken and Asparagus Casserole – Initially I was going to suggest chicken pie, but this chicken and asparagus dish is so pretty and festive and colorful. It’s great with just about any side dish, and if you make it the night before, it only takes 30 minutes for it to be ready for lunch. And truthfully, it takes me almost 30 minutes to get ready for Sunday dinner; those yoga pants are gonna jump on my person by themselves, now are they?

Crockpot Chicken & Dressing – If there’s any dish that brings out my inner Jerry Clower, it’s this one. This isn’t something my mama made when I was growing up, but it just tastes like the South to me. So good. And it begs for peas and turnip greens and maybe even a little okra on the side. TASTY.

Meatball Sandwiches – Melanie’s recipe is a favorite at our house. Make your meatballs the night before, then let them simmer in the crockpot while you’re at church or heat them up on the stove when you get home. Serve with potato salad that you made the night before (or that was lovingly prepared by your local Publix).

Eggplant Casserole – Don’t roll your eyes. Seriously. Because this is one of those dishes that might sound a little iffy but is SO, SO GOOD. You can serve it as a main course (Mama always put chopped ham in ours when it was a main course), or it’s a wonderful side with fried chicken (leave the chicken frying to the professionals at the Popeye’s or the Bojangle’s). Perfect with baked beans and rolls. Also a great reminder that we tend to forget about the eggplant, but the eggplant, it is enjoyable.

Pork Tenderloin – I don’t think there’s any cut of meat that I cook more for company. It soaks up marinade, cooks quickly, and falls into the category of “identifiable meat.” It’s great with potato casserole (make ahead, cook when you get home). I made cheese grits as a pork tenderloin side this past Sunday because I forgot to buy potatoes. And when I mentioned that I might just cook some white rice instead, Alex said, “THAT’S not the mama I know!” So cheese grits it was.

Chicken Cakes – Another great recipe of Mel’s. You could mix up the chicken cakes Saturday night, form them into patties, then quickly pan fry them after church on Sunday. Serve with sweet potato casserole and butterbeans. Then sign contentedly.

Spaghetti – Make sauce Saturday night. Cook noodles when you get home Sunday. Throw a little parmesan on the plate, grab a hunk of bread and you’re ready to roll.

Taco Salad – This is my all-time favorite simple meal. I brown a couple of pounds of ground beef with all the taco seasonings. I chop up a head of lettuce, open a bag of tortilla chips and unzip a package of flour tortillas. FANCY. Then I set out bowls of yummy toppings: grated cheese, black beans, tomatoes, sour cream, onions, Ranch dressing, queso dip, salsa, etc. People can either build their own salad or make nachos or make soft tacos. It’s even better if you use cute paper plates, because the clean-up is practically non-existent.

So. There you have it. And I know that there’s really nothing new under the Sunday dinner sun, but sometimes it’s good just to remember the options. Or, you know, you can always go out to eat. The important thing is to find the option that is most relaxing and recharging for you and your family.

All that being said, I will now return to my regular bloggy box. The box where I talk about bacon and Mississippi State sports and TV. And butter. And also mascara.

The end.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email


  1. More ideas:

    A big bucket o’chicken from the Colonel makes a good Sunday lunch, too.Pick it up on the way home from church, put it on your best platter and folks will think you have been frying chicken all morning, especially if you serve it with potato salad you made on Saturday and baked beans in the crock pot.

    A crock pot full of chile, or taco soup works well, too. Again, make ’em on Saturday and let them heat up while you are at church.

    Cook a brisket on Saturday. Slice and cover with your favorite bar b que sauce. Zap it in the microwave to heat through for lunch. Bring out the above mentioned potato salad and baked beans. Yee Haw, that’s good eatin’.

    Sloppy Joes, (cooked ground beef and Manwhich sauce in the Crock Pot), chips and dip (Ruffles and French onion, yum)and a platter of raw veggies.

  2. Amy in Italia says:

    your “inner Jerry Clower” clinched it. I’ll be back every day from here on out…

  3. Funny you mentioned Jerry Clower. Ethan and I were listening to him on youtube last week and called my mama and daddy so they could listen in on it, too. They have dial-up, you know. So we sat at the computer with the phone set on speaker and listened to Jerry…and Mama and Daddy laughing over the speaker phone. Priceless. As a sidenote, I have the Coon Huntin’ Story on a 45.

    Dinner on Sunday is mostly a roast, potatoes and carrots cooked in the oven for an hour and a half, then I turn it off as we walk out the door. It’s done and hot when we get home. KFC has been our dinner lately cause everyone is TIRED of roast. Can’t wait to try some of your dishes!

  4. Hey, Girl…

    A big crock pot of potato soup, bacon bits and shredded cheese served with a side of Mexican cornbread (pre-mixed and in the fridge until you walk in the door after church… then pop into the oven) makes a great meal during the winter.

    1 bag hash brown potatoes
    1 package cream cheese
    2 cans chicken broth
    2 cans Cream of Chicken soup

    Mix everything in the crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. Stir in between cooking to mix the cream cheese if possible. TIP – Spray the crock pot with PAM to make clean-up easier.

    My friend, Terri, gave me this recipe to post on my blog. I get at least one phone call a week from someone in the grocery store asking me to go over the four ingredients one more time. Delicious.

    Thanks for the other recipes.

  5. My grandparents LOVED Jerry Clower. I hadn’t thought of him in years until you mentioned him. When we were younger and would spend the night with Mimi and Papa, my sister and I would put on shows for them. They had a matress we slept on on the floor, but we would prop it up with two chairs to be the backdrop for our stage. Then we would stand our poor helpless baby brother (he must have been 3 or 4) on the “stage”, put one of Papa’s suit jackets on him, stuff a pillow inside it, and have him lip sync to the Jerry Clower EIGHT TRACKS!! playing behind the “backdrop”. Thank you for reminding me of that!

  6. I always feel so in control of my life when I have Sunday dinner prepared and ready to put in the oven when I get home. I did the whole lasagna thing just this past Sunday. That meatball recipe has definitely caught my eye.

  7. These Sunday lunches all sound so lovely and delicious but as Worship Leader at our church, it’s always lunch out then home for a big ole nap. We have service on Saturday night as well so prepping anything for Sunday probably isn’t going to happen. Sigh…. Maybe I’ll just come to your house. :)

  8. forget the recipes. you reminded me of my Daddy! He loved Jerry Clower. We bought him a tape player with head phones since he didn’t hear well. He would be sitting in another room listening and laughing. I bought him tickets for his 80th birthday and got stereo stories. Jerry in one ear and Daddy in the other telling the same stories.

  9. Don’t forget a great stew or chili with cornbread as an option as well. It’s always fun to just have a HUGE pot of something ready to roll, and ask a few people (or your whole Sunday School class!) at the very last minute (yes, just THAT MORNING) to come on over after Church or Bible Study. Just be sure to pull the pastor aside and invite him, or at least let him know of your “delicate lunch timing issues” so you can get a little cooperation in the time department from the pulpit!

  10. “Church house.” Hahaha! I SO get that.

    Remember that time Amanda Jones talked about her friend Sunny’s cheesy enchiladas? That’s a good one for Sunday lunch. Prepare ahead of time, assemble and put in the baking dish and pop in the fridge. Have the cheese sauce prepared to pour over it. When you get home, turn on the oven, pour the cheese over the enchiladas, and you have lunch ready in about 30-40 minutes.


  11. Oh yum!!! Sophie…you’re a girl after my heart!
    We love Sunday dinnertime at my house. I think it’s one of our most important meals. And these recipes are awesome!
    Going to try them!

  12. I must say, I find all this SO fascinating! I’m up here in Canada, listening to y’all! (that’s my Southern immitation) You are so much fun, Sophie! I just never in all my born days have heard anything like this.It’s like you are from another planet (in the best possible way) I love that I have no clue who Gerry Clower is, but I can just imagine. Carry on.

  13. I am going to have to amend your Taco salad recipe. As much as we love ranch dressing, taco salad simply isn’t taco salad without Catalina dressing. Yum!

  14. Thank you for reminding me of Hot Chicken Salad, which would be an excellent addition to this list too (though I always think of it for wedding/baby showers, since that was All The Rage with my friends at the time, but boys certainly like it too):

    Hot Chicken Salad
    serves 12

    6 Cups cooked chicken (cubed–broil or poach to cook, or the original hostess used Perdue Short Cuts) (usually this is 3-4 boneless breasts)
    4 Cups chopped celery
    1 1/2 Cups mayonnaise (low fat works, no-fat doesn’t)
    4 Tablespoons lemon juice ( juice from one medium lemon)
    2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup (light works)
    salt & pepper to taste
    2 Cups sliced almonds
    sliced Swiss cheese (from the deli or usually one pack from the lunchmeat fridge will do)
    one medium bag Cape Cod style potato chips, crushed (I think Cape Cod is like “kettle” style)

    Mix all ingredients together in large bowl except for Swiss cheese and potato chips.
    Put in a 9×13 pyrex dish. Cover with Swiss cheese slices and then crushed chips.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes if right out of the fridge.

  15. Thank you for the last two posts. I’m saving this post forever because I can’t wait until I have a family of my own that I can cook Sunday dinner for!

  16. Love having a big meal for Sunday dinner. I remember being so thrilled when I was finally old enough to sit around the table with the adults after the meal. And I watched happily as my neice made her way to the ‘big table’ too and felt like a real adult. It is a right of passage, don’t you think? And another great meal is what I call ‘Baked Spaghetti’ that you layer the spaghetti sauce (with ground chuck) then cooked orzo, then grated cheese, sauce, orzo, cheese, then meat and put Parmesan on top. Easy to do and just get a bag salad and some bread and done. And Chicken Spaghetti too. Come to think of it, we love to have us some pasta dishes!

  17. Just wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired yet another reader to attempt to rekindle this tradition. Thank you so much for the kick in the pants needed! Thanks also for the Love Boat/Fantasy Island shout out. I used to loooovvvve Saturday night TV – well, except for the spooky parts of Fantasy Island that used to scare me.

    This crockpot chicken and dumplings recipe is great and super easy.

  18. Sister there is nothing like some Chicken Divan!! That was my mama’s special occasion dish when I was growing up in Grenada, Mississippi! I could eat it every single day! Love Love Love it!!

  19. Speaking of mascara, have you tried Maybelline’s One By One in the red tube? It’s the best thing I’ve found since the demise of Max Factor’s Stretch and/or 2,000 Calorie mascara. Wonderful.

  20. Mmmmm, Sunday dinner…my favorite is Chicken and Dumplins, corn bread, and creamed corn!! (with Lemon Ice Box Pie for dessert) Yummmmm

  21. Boo: You might be single handedly responsible for bringing back Sunday dinner in these parts. For me, the most overwhelming part of re-establishing this tradition is the great big what to serve? Well — you solved that by offering lots of delicious and do-able options. Thanks!

  22. I’m going to bookmark this page for some new recipes, we needed some new ones in the rotation :). I also wanted to share this one since you also like pork tenderloin like we do. Hubby leaves out the cilantro and ginger, but I bet it would be good with it too.