Cheryl St.John: Quick Meals for NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who aren’t writers, that means thousands upon thousands of writers are hunkered over their keyboards right now, tallying a word count. There’s a whole website and online community devoted to what is known as Nano-ing. Some years I participate and some I don’t. This year I committed to the whole 50,000 word goal.

It never fails that when a writer is buckled down for an intense writing spree, 300 emails pour into her inbox, the assistant editor requests a dear reader letter and study questions, ten things crop up on the home front that scream for her attention—and her turn to blog rolls around.

The organized Nanoers shop, prepare meals ahead and freeze them. Is that impressive, or what? Others send hubby for carry out four or five nights in a row—and some—like me—make use of all their quick and simple recipes.

And so today I share with you, a couple of my easiest on deadline or Nano-ing recipes.


This is a no fail hit. I’ve made it for only the family and I’ve made it for a soup supper at church. The quantities are easy to adjust.

1 ½ lbs ground beef, browned with a medium onion

For a crowd/  9 lbs & 4-6 onions

28 oz crushed tomatoes     / 168 oz

8 oz tomato sauce   / 48 oz

1 can corn      / 6 cans

1 can pinto beans      / 6 cans

Packet taco seasoning       /6 pkgs

1 cup water          / 6 cups

Simmer for 45 min to an hour and serve with shredded cheese, sour cram and corn chips

(My daughter adds a package of ranch dressing mix to the single recipe)


1 ¼ c flour

1 egg

1 1/4 c buttermilk

½ c sugar

1 heaping tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 ¼ c oil

Pinch of salt

Preheat a nonstick skillet.

Combine all ingredients with mixer until smooth.

Pour by spoonfuls or small measuring cup to form 5” circles

When bubbles pop and edges appear to harden, flip.

Cook other side until golden.

8-10 pancakes

Serve with ready-to-eat sausages or microwave bacon


Mix: 1 cup + 2 Tbsp water and 1 or 2 eggs

4 tsp gluten

3 Tbsp brown sugar

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tsp salt

1 scat tsp yeast

1 cup Hodgson rye flour

1 c Hodgson whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached bread flour

Easy to slice once cooled! Makes great sandwiches and excellent toast.

Have you noticed if some of your favorite authors have Nano-meters on their blogs this month? If so, leave them a note of encouragement.

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24 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: Quick Meals for NaNoWriMo”

  1. Lots of folks trying to reach their goals. I hadn’t even thought about what an author has to do to clear all that time! Thanks for the insights AND the recipes!

    Peace, Julie

  2. It’s nine o’clock in the morning here and I’m already hungry for Taco Soup. Sounds delicious, Cheryl! I’ve never done Nano, but I’ve got a 12/1 deadline. Maybe next year…

  3. That Taco Soup sounds wonderful. I’m copying it down.

    Of course it may have been so attractive because it was outlined next to those cutie copy and paste babies.

    Too fun. Best of luck with nano. I’d be a basket case if I ever tried it, but maybe it can help motivate me to at least stay on track with my current wip.


  4. Good morning, Julie! My RWA chapter has a goal guru, a person who motivates and cheers on accomplishments. She started out with 100 days before the end of the year, and has posted something on our chapter blog EVERY day. (Cheers to *lizzie!) Nano is a big deal every year, and there are even charms given out to those who reach their goals.

    See the great quotes this week, here:

  5. Thanks for the great recipes.
    I do9n’t know how well I would do under the pressure to write on such a tight schedule/deadline. Good luck.

  6. I’m doing what I think of as ‘shadow nano’. I set my own raised goals and push harder than usual.

    But I don’t get into the online pep rally. I probably should. But … well, anyway, one Nano I wrote an entire 90,000 word book. I think that was two years ago. So it can really work. That book, Cowboy Christmas, is the one that won the Carol Award here recently, too. So I managed to crank out something decent.


  7. Those recipes sound great. I am always looking for good, easy things to cook. Thanks.
    The twins are absolutely precious! Love the tee shirts, too.
    Haven’t done the nano thing, but I know that once I start writing with an idea, I don’t want to stop and do anything to break that streak. I sort of zone out.

  8. Mary, you are on your own personal Nano all the time imho. You produce an amazing amount of good work. I think you’re my idol.

    Hey, Mary J! Isn’t it great when the words simply flow? Wish that was all the time.

  9. Thanks for the great recipes, Cheryl. Gotta love those little twins.
    And I couldn’t write 50,000 words in a month even if somebody had a gun to my head. You and all the Nano participants have my undying admiration.

  10. Everyone has their own speed, Elizabeth! Smooches.

    FYI – I recently cleaned and organized my office. I have a huge cubby above my work space, holding my favorite westerns – and a lot of them are HHs. I caressed my copies of Bride on the Run and Shawnee Bride before placing them back.

  11. Good luck on reaching your word count. I think it’s a good motivator but I’ve never tried it. Maybe I should.

    Your taco soup recipe sounds out of this world. I’ll have to dig out my pans and get the dust off them and try it. The only thing is that I’m usually cooking for one person and a lot of recipes make too much. Have you ever tried freezing this soup?

  12. HI Cher, I tried NaNo officially last year but didn’t quite cut it LOL. Right now I’ve got edits to do but afterward, intend to do my own form of NaNo.

    I love the recipes. I’m not much of a kitchen girl but hubby will love them. I highly recommen dadding the ranch dressing to the taco soup. That was the secret incredient in my own TS recipe here at the Junction a few weeks ago. oxoxo Good luck with NaNo.

  13. Lots of luck with the word count! I’m going to try the taco soup – maybe just double the recipe. I make Sunday dinners for my family and love using my new crockpot 🙂

  14. Good luck with making the word count, Cher! That sounds like a real challenge.
    Love the beautiful baby photo, too!

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