Thursday, September 23, 2010

27 Quick, Easy Meals for Busy Moms

I've been working hard on this big-mama post because I think it's something that will benefit a lot of tired, overworked moms (or dads, or anyone who is exhausted around 5PM and has no desire to cook dinner.) Actually it was Alyssa's last post/plea that finally pushed me over the edge.

I started digging around in the depths of my blog and pulled out 27 recipes that could reasonably be prepared in 30 minutes or less and don't require any complicated techniques or a lot of chopping. A little chopping, yes, but that's the trade off we make when we choose to eat real food instead of pulling some pre-packaged thing out of the freezer and into the microwave/oven. Like with most things, the more you chop, the faster you get. (And please use a sharp knife!) Your body will thank you.

So yes, these meals take longer than the 12 minutes it may take to cook a frozen pizza. A little prep work ahead of time or even better, menu planning (!), will make these even easier than they already are. I promise. I plan on doing a post in the near future focusing on slow cooker and freezer-friendly meals, but these are ones you don't have to think about (if you've planned ahead and have everything you need) until about 5PM.



pics from blog2-2

1.  Swiss Chard and Sun-Dried Tomato Skillet Mac - Comes together quickly if you have the sun-dried tomato pesto already made. A great way to incorporate greens if you have picky eaters!
2. Balsamic Chicken Pasta with Fresh Cheese - Dressed with a balsamic dressing instead of sauce to make it extra light and fresh.
3. Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Fettucine - Another great one that uses the sun-dried tomato pesto!
4. Sausage and Zucchini Pasta Toss - A great one that gets much of its flavor from cooked sausage (like Aidell's).
5. Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Heh. I didn't realize most of these recipes had sun-dried tomatoes! Feel free to substitute regular tomatoes in this one. I love the artichoke hearts in this.


pics from blog3-1

1. Foil-Packet Salmon and Nutty Lemon-Herb Brown Rice with Avocado - This is a delicious Omega-3 packed meal that my toddlers even enjoyed!
2. Pineapple Chicken - A delicious stir-fry dish with chunks of juicy pineapple and a coconut milk sauce.
3. Eight Treasure Fried Rice - This is probably the most interesting (in a good way) and delicious fried rice I've had. It's hearty enough to stand on its own, too.
4. Coconut Curry with Cauliflower, Carrots, and Chickpeas - A great vegetarian week-night meal with an optional lesson on the letter "C".

Gluten-Free/Alternative Grains

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1. Hidden Veggie Chipotle Taco Meat - You can use this as a taco or burrito filling or over a bed of salad greens. A food processor makes this come together in a snap.
2. Grilled Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa with Garlic, Nuts, and Raisins - Quinoa is a great protein-rich grain that cooks up like rice. This one is for the garlic lovers!
3. Spicy Turkey Chile Verde with Hominy and Squash - Having the squash pre-chopped really saves a lot of time here. We loved this with a side of cornbread or muffins.
4. Smoky Greens over Polenta - Polenta (or grits) can be whipped up in no time. I love the combination of bacon and greens here.

(P.S. All of the gluten-free recipes on my site are indicated by a "*" in the recipe index!)

Burgers and the Like

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1. Grilled Zucchini and Ham Pita Panini with Basil Hummus - Hummus keeps in the fridge for about a week, so it's a good thing to do ahead of time.
2. Chimichurri Burgers - These burgers may look ordinary, but they're filled with a spicy cilantro/parsley chimichurri (kind of like pesto). One of our favorite burgers ever.
3. Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers - A different twist on a burger that's surprisingly delicious! Ground turkey is mixed with a blend of spices, shredded carrot and dab of peanut butter.
4. Itty Bitty Burgers - These may seem fussy, but they come together quickly, and it's something the kids would love to help with!

pics from blog5

1. Hearty Cheeseburger Soup - A warming soup that tastes like a burger and fries! Nobody that's tried this hasn't liked it. (Or at least admitted it to me!)
2. Chipotle Steak and Potato Soup - Most likely my favorite beef soup ever. Make a batch of shredded chipotle beef in your slow cooker and save some leftovers to make this soup!
3. Zuppa Toscana - This is my version of the creamy Olive Garden soup, filled with sausage, potatoes, and kale.
4. Cheesy Tomato-Vegetable Soup - This is a common lunch-time soup that my kids love, but it would be wonderful on a weeknight for the whole family. It's done in about 15 minutes. Seriously.

Main Dish Salads
pics from blog7

1. Creole Salmon Patties over Greens - Great use for leftover salmon or any other type of fish!
2. BLT Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette - One of my favorite salads - which may or may not be due to the fact that it's got bacon.
3. Chicken Parmesan Salad - The famous Chicken Parmesan turned into a light, flavorful salad. You won't miss the puddle of grease.
4. Black Bean Cake Salad with Cilantro-Lime Cream - The cilantro-lime cream in this is really what makes the whole thing shine. It's a great vegetarian option as well!
5. Green Bean and Egg Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing - Green salad meets potato salad meets egg salad. Kind of strange-sounding combination, but the dressing pulls it all together.

More posts that might make your culinary life a bit easier:


  1. AWESOME!! I love when you put these posts together!!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for adding the Gluten free recipes! I started gluten free about a week and a half ago and I've been so stumped.
    Thanks! Can't wait to try them!


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