Now that we’re fully into the swing of the school year things have gotten, well, busier. I didn’t think it was even possible, but now that Gia has two activities week, it is. I absolutely love to cook and unfortunately that’s really hard to do on nights when Gia has dance or gymnastics. Dance is from 5:30 to 6:30–aka dinner time. So I’ve been scrambling and trying to think of things I can make ahead of time so Gia can eat before she goes to class and Jon and I can eat later after both kids are in bed.
I’ve spent the past 3 Sunday mornings scouring Pinterest and googling every combination of “quick and easy meals” you can possibly think of. But I was having trouble coming up with anything decent. Every recipe either took way too long (when you have a hungry child 30-40 min is way too long!) or it had several ingredients. One search yielded a recipe for Pasta with Brie, Arugula and Mushrooms. While that sounds delish, there is no change I’ll have any of those ingredients on hand, ever. And it isn’t really kid-friendly either. Both of my kids are terrific eaters and they’ll eat pretty much anything. Even Nicholas. At nearly 1 he eats everything we eat at dinner time. But pasta with exotic cheese? Not going to fly over here.
So I put my thinking cap on and here’s what I came up with. 5 truly quick and easy dinners that you can make ahead and keep warm, or make in 10 minutes or less.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of my faves!
We’re all big fans of chili around here which is a good thing because it’s one of my fall and winter weeknight go-to meals. My recipe is pretty simple.
- 1 lb of ground beef or turkey
- 1 can (15 oz) no-salt added tomato sauce
- 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans (not drained)
- 3/4 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tbs chili powder
- salt & pepper to taste
1. Brown the meat in a large pan.
2. When the meat is fully cooked, add beans, tomato sauce and spices. Stir well.
3. Simmer 15-20 min.
4. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and cornbread (our faves!)
With just 3 ingredients and only 5 minutes of prep time, this is one of my favorites. It so easy AND so tasty. I always use pork shoulder. I quickly brown it on all sides and then throw it in the crock pot with some root beer. Let that baby cook for 6 hours, then drain the root beer and shred it up. Add some of your favorite BBQ sauce and put it all back in the crock pot so it can stay warm. Serve on your favorite rolls whenever you’re ready.
We’re Italian and we can’t really go one week without eating pasta and some kind of red sauce. While I do love a good Bolegnese or a meatball, there’s not always time for that. So, when we’re craving Italian food but are short on time, I make ravioli with marinara.
You can use your favorite jarred sauce, or just open a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (I prefer Contadina) and dump some Italian spices, garlic power and salt and pepper in and let it simmer. When the ravis are ready, cover them with a little sauce and there’s dinner.
Who doesn’t love bacon? Well, maybe vegetarians. 😉 BLTs are a great weeknight dinner around here because it’s easy to fry up a few slices and throw together a quick sandwich when anyone in your house needs to eat. And, if we have some avocado around, we’ll put that on too!
5. Vegetable Quesadillas
Keep it simple when you make quesadillas and you’ve got another 15 minute meal.
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 small can of olives OR 1/2 cup of frozen corn
- 1 package of large tortillas
- 2 cups of Mexican Blend cheese
1. Slice zucchini and squash and sauteé with a little olive oil until tender. Add in olives or corn (or both!) and cook until they’re warm.
2. Heat up a separate pan and place the tortilla in. Sprinkle veggies and cheese on half and fold over. Cook on each side for 2-3 min, until cheese is melted.
3. Serve with your favorite salsa, a little sour cream and guacamole!
In the comments, tell me your favorite quick and easy weeknight dinner!