These ideas for quick and easy meals are ideal for those hectic days when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. These easy tips and ideas make it easier!
Quick And Easy Meals For Busy Days
Last night was one of those nights at Tawra’s house. We had one child’s teacher conference and right after it another one had a concert.
As soon as Tawra got in the door with the kids after school, she was in full gear trying to make dinner, get homework done, get everyone dressed and get out the door. Dad didn’t come home from work until just before they needed to leave.
It is important to have some quick and easy meals at your fingertips for these kinds of days.
Make a list of 5 quick and easy meals on a 3×5 card to keep in your recipe file. They should have all or most of these characteristics:
- The meal can be made the day before or early in the day.
- Quick and easy meals should have ingredients that can be kept in the pantry or freezer– ingredients that are always on hand.
- It can be kept warm easily.
- The meals are one pot dishes (Each menu is a whole meal in and of itself, not needing a lot of side dishes.)
- The menus should be easily served to different people at different times.
- The meals shouldn’t require a lot of pans to prepare or dishes in order to eat.
Here are some examples of quick and easy meals:
- Chili – Homemade chili can easily be made the day before or morning of the day you need it. All the ingredients are kept in the pantry and freezer. Homemade chili uses only one pot to prepare, one bowl to eat and can be kept warm to eat at different times should you need it sooner or later.
- Stew or vegetable soup – These have the same benefits as chili.
- Roast, Potatoes and Carrots – Roast can also be put in the oven or crockpot early in the day and slow cooked. Slow Cooked Roast can easily be kept warm in the crockpot or oven, needs only one plate to serve and roast, potatoes and carrots makes a full meal all by itself.
- Hamburger Casserole – Hamburger casserole is also quick and easy. You can really use any of your favorite casseroles as plan ahead quick and easy meals. Most casseroles seem like familiar dishes but there is nothing wrong with that. Did you know most families eat the same 10 meals over and over because they like the familiarity? Most families don’t really mind.
The main object is to have a meal already cooked that allows you to feed your family while creating very little mess in the kitchen from preparation and from dishes used for eating.
Of course, you can add things like a salad, a vegetable or some bread to the meal if you have time but the whole idea is, if you don’t have time, you don’t have to add anything at all.
For lots more quick and easy meals that you can make ahead of time, check out our Dining on a Dime cookbook. Dining on a Dime includes all of these recipes and hundreds more along with a bunch of other ideas to make it easier to put dinner on the table and get out of the kitchen!
Make your life easier – plan ahead.
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I have been doing very well with meal planning lately. On the days that my daughter has dance class I also do a crockpot meal or a casserole that I can prep during the day or I’ll plan something like burgers, pasta (sauce already made), or sandwiches and soup. We also use that night to do an occasional (pre-planned/pre-budgeted) family night out for supper.
Tonite I have a mammogram scheduled for 5:45 and I’m doing a Ham and Noodle bake that will be ready for my family to eat after I leave.
Unfortunately I never have hectic meal times.
But due to RA I do have can’t move to cook times.
Some of my can’t move recipes might help with hectic times.
Fried Fish gluten free.
mix some cornstarch with rice flour salt pepper and dill weed coat the fish and in a small amount of oil and margarine cook for about 5 min. Nice and crispy nobody missed the flour coating.
Turn the oven on to 425’F cut up onions and potatoes small enough to cook in 20 min and roast them until browned.
Or boil potatoes and carrots on the stove while you coat the fish and fry it.
It should be ready at the same time so 1/2 an hour tops from start to table.
Keep a family size portion of cooked spaghetti in the freezer. put it into a pot and add spaghetti sauce heat through for an Italian dinner along with toasted bread or buns.
you can make a hamburger helper meal by
cooking a bit of hamburger then mixing it with macaroni and cheese add some frozen vegetables to the mix top with grated cheese of whatever your family likes and it is ready in 15 min.
make a stir fry. meat of any type add some vegetables a bit of soup stock and a tsp of corn starch to thicken it serve over rice or pasta that you pull from the freezer.
make packet meals.
individual meals in tin foil that bake in about 1/2 an hour.
meat thinly sliced, vegetables, precooked rice.
if you like leave out the starch and just boil some potatoes. Kids seem to like having these since they get to open dinner for a change.
If you put the entire meal in the package all you have to wash up is the plate and a fork.
this meal is easy and it seems to go better with a really cheap cut of beef. I guess the fat makes it better. blade steak is wonderful but a sirloin steak was the pits.
I do this with chicken, pork chops or beef and it is always a hit.
one family size steak cut into smaller pieces they do not have to be bite size though that does save time on serving if you have youngsters.
potatoes,carrots onions cut small salt pepper and enough liquid to cover the entire thing.
cover with foil and place in the oven at 350′ set timer for 2 hours. use the liquid to make a gravy Once it is ready serve out the plates and put gravy either on it yourself or put it on the table for individual likes.
This can be done in the slow cooker but I have found that the meat does not go fall apart tender. It seems to be too dry so 2 hours tops in the oven is better for us.
My fall back positions are either leftover spaghetti sauce saved in the freezer (you can even freeze leftover spaghetti and put in a pan of boiling water to thaw in about 3 min., Hamburger Helper with prefrozen cooked ground beef, or chicken. Chicken is our favorite fast food. I found some wonderful chicken tenders – flash frozen individually-at Trader Joe’s. A five pound package is about $5.99. I can quickly partially defrost them in the microwave, chop them in nugget size and throw them in a bag of bread crumbs and cook in about 15 min. either in a frying pan or in the oven. Open a can of potatoes and green beans and dinner is ready in less than 40 min. My husband loves this chicken breaded in panko crumbs and a little bit of butter in the pan. If you want to omit the bread crumbs, add the nuggets or whole pieces to a baking dish with a can of gravy. This hold really well in the oven on warm and does not dry out with the gravy.
I really like the way you presented having meals ready without a lot of stress. It is so much easier than trying to make a meal when everyone is hungry and grouchy.One thing I have found that makes it easy is to get several pounds of ground beef, fry it up with diced onions and a little garlic, some seasoning of choice, then cooling it and packing it up into sizes needed for spaghetti, chili, etc. Then all I have to do when I want a meal is to get the other items needed ready and pop the frozen, already cooked ground beef in the pot with the other stuff. It really cuts a lot of time. I also cook up pork chops with onions, gravy, etc., then when cooled I freeze them in meal-size portions. It is so handy to just add veggies and potatoes or rice and have pork chops already cooked.Another handy thing is to cook up rice and freeze it in one-cup portions. Works great. Wish I had done these things when my kids were coming up.
Any meal that you can make ahead and then freeze is a lifesaver for busy days. When my family was young, I loved oven meals, with a pre-set timer on the oven, for busy afternoons when we would be out. Another time and energy saver for me, especially in hotter weather, or when the schedule gets tight, is refrigerator cookies. These recipes are found in several older cookbooks. Basically, you make up a fairly stiff cookie dough (usually a little higher in fat), then roll it into logs, wrap and refrigerate, to bake at another more convenient time. When it is time to bake, you unwrap the log, slice off cookies and pop them into the oven. These also worked as snacks for my teenagers, who often baked them for themselves, as they preferred their cookies warm from the oven.
This also works really good for baking for the holidays. I make up my gingerbread man dough now, vacuum seal it and then all I have to do is bake and decorate closer to Christmas. You don’t have to vacuum seal just make up the cookie dough in November and freeze then take it out as needed. I vacuum seal mine because I do so many I have to start way ahead of time.
This “recipe” is really a bunch of can-opening that makes a quick and delicious meal. Serves 4
Terrific, Timely Tamales
2 cans Hormel Beef Tamales in Chili Sauce-2 cans Hormel Chili, No Beans-2 c. shredded Cheddar Cheese
In a 9 x 9 (or something close) glass pan, lay tamales side-by-side. Spoon chili over the top (you may need to warm it a bit, so it’ll spread evenly). Sprinkle cheese over the chili. Bake at 350 till the cheese melts, about 20 minutes or so.
You can adapt from here: sometimes, I add other ingredients, such as jalapeños, or enchilada sauce, just to change it up a bit. Serve with guacamole and chips, or a simple green salad with salsa and chips.
Every time I made soup, stew or chili, I make a double batch to throw in the freezer so I have a quick meal handy. I work outside the home, so I throw the frozen chunk of soup, stew or chili into my slow cooker with a cup of water and let it thaw and warm itself all day. Another of our favorite quick meals is Hawaiian pulled pork or you can do this with chicken – throw all of this in a crockpot set to low and cook all day, 3 or 4 pounds of pork (I buy what’s on sale, steaks, roast, loin, country style ribs…) I season it with salt & pepper, a heaping teaspoon of ginger, 2 or 3 cloves of crushed garlic or garlic powder equivilant, a 1/4 cup lite soy sauce, a tablespoon or 2 of bbq sauce then pour a large can of crushed pineapple (or pineapple tidbits) with the juice over the top. Shred with a fork and remove any bones. Serve on sandwich rolls. This is also a great way to use up dry sandwich rolls…the juice makes them super good! My kids love the sweet and savory combination.
Hi everyone! I’m finally back on line after losing my job last July and not having a computer until recently. I missed everyone so hope to be able to catch up and see what you are doing.
Wilma, looking forward to trying your tamale recipe. We don’t eat much Mexican food but do love the canned chili so am sure we will like this.
Jill and Tawra, good to be back. I feel like all of you are my family and I have been out of touch too long.
Hi Maggie. Glad to have you back. Hope things are going a little better with you. I take it you will have a computer now on a regular basis so will get to chat some more.
Maggie, so glad you are back, got your card at Christmas saying you weren’t working, so good to hear from you again.
My quilting has gotten better, but my binding skills are seriously lacking, LOL. still learning!!!
Hi jill, love every tip. Last week I shopped for the month on ss so its tough.i spent at winn dixe many buy one get one free and used coupons I only buy whats on sale that I like I spent 95 dollars and then my coupons and store card my total was 45 dollars wow now what I saved im gonna hold for more grocieres later this month what blessings. Love you site