Jump to content


I need some EASY DINNER IDEAS for the next couple weeks...


Recommended Posts

Today is DH's last day of work, and on Friday he starts at the Sheriff's academy. It's going to be a crazy, high-stress few weeks as we get into our new groove and I need some easy week-night meal ideas. Even though my kids wouldn't mind, I just can't serve sandwiches for lunch AND dinner every day!


We already eat of a lot of Mexican type meals (tacos, burrotos, beans,etc.) and breakfast for dinner (pancakes and omelettes mostly). What are some of your go-to easy meals? I need to go to the grocery store today (hopefully just Trader Joe's) so I can pick up whatever I might need.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like to mix up the protein/veg/grain combo. If you can make any of the above on the grill it's even better - one less dish to wash. Grilled chicken, couscous, grilled asparagus. Grilled fish, rice, broccoli. Bunless hamburgers, simple homemade pasta salad, watermelon. Etc.


The other big favorite is quesadillas and salad - and no, I know nothing about my family eating that every day for a week last summer.


Frozen or refrigerator ravioli with canned pasta sauce.


And lastly, popcorn and smoothies. Everyone sits around the table reading books and munching away. :0)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our easiest dinner meals are those that can be assembled and/or cooked during lunch. I make a chicken stir-fry quite often (it's a family favorite) that I can cook during lunch, refrigerate and reheat before dinner - it's also a complete meal in itself - rice, chicken and vegetables. I also will assemble meals like stuffed shells or lasagna at lunch and toss them in the oven at dinner time. Lunch is also the perfect time to throw a marinade together with some meat to be grilled or roasted later in the evening. Another simple meal we enjoy is roasted veggies with broiled bread - I cut up a variety of veggies, coat them in olive oil, sprinkle them with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and roast until tender. Clean up is a breeze, too, because I line my baking sheet with foil and just toss when done.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How old are your children? My daughter started cooking simple meals for the family at age 10. They both could make soup and sandwiches and pancakes earlier than that.


If you can get them to make lunch at least, that would give you more time to prep dinner or do other things.


Crockpot meals are easy, just throw stuff in the crock pot.


Spaghetti is also easy, you can make ahead meatballs and freeze them or make them at lunch and dump them in the sauce to heat them up at dinner time. The children can make a salad to go with this meal to make it complete and even easier.


It is also nice to BBQ a bunch of meat ahead of time and chop and freeze and refrigerate, then you have easy ready meat for stir fry, tortillas, pasta with meat, etc. I like to slightly undercook and then lightly fry up right before meals while adding any spices or veggies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tuna Casserole:


Boil up a pound of ditalini, drain, pour into huge bowl.

Cut up and saute a whole onion til soft. Put in bowl with ditalini.

Add these to bowl as well:

2 cans of drained solid or chunk white tuna (in water or oil, doesn't matter). Chop it up a bit.

3 cans of cream of mushroom soup (Campbell's tastes best)

1 whole bag of crushed Wise potato chips (the ~ $1.49 to $2 bag)


Stir this up and transfer to a baking pan. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Plate up and add sprinkle on some black pepper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, wow! I hope he enjoys the academy. During dh's academy days we had lots of easy meals. Scrambled eggs and toast, mac and cheese with green beans on the side, ground beef patties served a dozen ways, soup, sandwiches, more eggs and toast. And since it was just one and a half people we would get Chinese. One meal would feed the both of us back in the day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crockpot pulled pork - cook pork roast or shoulder or whatever is cheap in the crockpot. You can be fancy & season it or not. When done, shred it and mix with your favorite BBQ sauce. I like to cook it a bit after that, but I don't always. This freezes well and makes great sandwiches or just by itself.


Another easy favorite is vegetable pasta. Cook your favorite noodles in a larger than usual pot. About half-way through the cooking, add vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces. I usually use a combination of broccoli, cauliflower & carrots. When finished cooking, drain & return to the pot. Add shredded cheese & plenty of pepper. I usually use mozzarella & sharp cheddar, but I have used other combinations also.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our easy meals:

Roast in the crockpot (current fav is venison roast cooked in jalapeno jelly)

Grilled cheese and tomato soup (I cook the tomato soup in the crockpot)


Spaghetti or penne in tomato sauce

pesto pasta

Burritos or nachos

pad thai


sloppy joes

Goulash (elbow noodles cooked in tomato sauce, onions, peppers, cheese and Chili powder)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our easy meal is a deli plate -- and Trader Joe's is the perfect place to get the required stuff, if you don't have time for a real deli.


We eat this several times a week during sports season; we get sick of it after a while, but so far nobody is sick of it enough to step up and make something else so ... we keep having it on our busy nights LOL. We change it up some, but it's always: sliced meat, starch, fruit, veggie, heese.


We have two baseball games and an AHG meeting tomorrow so our deli plate is what's in the fridge: leftover turkey slices, sliced berries and grapes, few cubes of Manchego, few slices of raw cukes and bell pepper, and popcorn because I'm out of bread and crackers. Usually the starch would be a slice of sourdough, a handful of pretzels or crackers. The kids don't mind popcorn, though :)


It really doesn't get much easier than that, especially if you get TJ's pre-cooked/-sliced meats, pre-cut fruit or veggies, pre-cubed cheese, and a loaf of bread or box of crackers. And if you want to spend less, it's not hard to cut your own veggies and fruit and cheese LOL.


Good luck to your husband!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My easy and quick meals (used mostly for days we have evening ballet or other kid activities).


1. Trader Joe's Orange chicken with rice and some kind of fruit or veggie (strawberries are in season now, oranges in winter, home canned peaches, simple green salad, etc.)

2. Aidell's chicken meatballs (from Costco) instead of the orange chicken above.

3. Marinara in the crockpot--spaghetti w/marinara and a salad for dinner.

4. When I make marinara, I used a Costco sized can of crushed tomatoes and use 1/4 of it to make homemade pizza sauce which I store in 1 cup ball jars with plastic lids in the freezer. Dinner--homemade pizza with 2 Trader Joe's crusts, 1 jar of sauce, 8 oz mozzarella, and pepperoni, mushrooms, and tomatoes for toppings.

5. Mexican chicken in the crockpot--soft tacos for dinner.

6. Breakfast for dinner

7. Soup and sandwiches

8. Pulled pork sandwiches, either pork from crockpot or from freezer from previous dinners.

9. Frozen ravioli or tortellini with TJ's jarred sauce (or marinara from freezer).


Grilling dinner is not quick here--maybe that's just because we use briquettes--but it takes so long that I have to reserve those dinners for nights when I have more time, usually weekends. But I tend to grill enough for a second dinner--flank steak becomes fajitas on night two, teriyaki chicken becomes fried rice, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgot two more: homemade pizza (just have to make the dough which can be made ahead- I almost always have enough for 2 pizzas in the freezer)

Mac and cheese (just make a simple flour and butter roux, add milk and cook until thickened, then add cheese and pasta. Serve as is or bake for a baked Mac and cheese.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We make fancy grilled cheese. I use a griddle so I can make a bunch at once. I make a little bar out of leftovers, jalepenoes, tomato slices, avocado, olives, pizza sauce, whatever we have around. Serve with soup, fries, potato salad, fruit salad. Great way to get extra veggies in.


We like Mexican. I throw leftovers in a pot and make taco soup. Bake a bunch of potatoes and use leftovers from tacos or burritos to make a potato bars.


My kids love the bar theme. I let them make their own that way. Less work for me. Plus, you can make a salad and put that stuff on, as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linguine with clam sauce from canned clams)


Spaghetti with browned meat (beef or sausage) and red sauce.


Grilled chicken over a big caesar or Greek salad with bread



Rachel Ray's 30 minute comfort foods is a handy book to have on have. Quick, delicious meals, but nothing to exotic to alarm the children. She has a 30 min chicken and dumpling soup that my kids love. That's a complete meal in one pot.


Burgers or hot dogs and fries are easy if you do frozen fries.


Polish sausage, peirogis, and onions fried in one pan is delicious and quick.


Chicken club sandwiches are pretty dinner worthy.


Look up the sticky chicken recipe. It has a loooong cooking time, but you can deal with it in the afternoon and be off the hook by dinner time.


Kabobs can be prepped at lunch.


Lasagna is involved, but prep early in the day and make enough for 3 meals and freeze one. Plan on leftovers the next night. People rarely complain about leftover lasagna.


Find a low, slow pot roast recipe that you can put in early in the day.


Just cave and get Chinese one night :-)


Grilled chicken, pita, hummus, salad, and tsaziki sauce are waaaaay easier than they sound and are quick to make.


Chili (McCormick spice blend, just follow their directions) and baked potatoes with shredded cheese, sour cream, and chives to top them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our top chicken ideas:


First, I always have on hand a ton of cooked, cut up/shredded chicken. You can do this on the crockpot, oven or poach it in a pot. I do about 20 chicken breasts at a time! Cook it JUST until done so you don't have dried out chicken. :) I season with onion powder and garlic because I like that flavor with just about any chicken dish, but you don't have to.


Meals for cooked chicken:


1. Chicken and spinach lasagna using alfredo or red sauce in a jar and oven-ready noodles

2. Chicken and cheese quesadillas--add anything you like, we do a smear of refried beans and fresh cilantro

3. Multiple chicken casseroles--Pioneer Woman has a good one, and I like tetrazzini or something with rice, broccoli & cheese :)

4. I know you said no more Mexican, but we don't do ground beef often, so using homemade taco seasoning to make soft chicken tacos or chicken nachos (use canned nacho cheese and enchilada sauce!) is a hit here

5. Soup: Equal cans chicken and veggie stock, add an onion chopped into fourths + some garlic, simmer for about 20 min. to get good flavor, then add veggies, pasta, and last the cooked chicken just til heated through

6. BBQ chicken sandwiches with cole slaw

7. Chicken teriyaki or sweet & sour chicken...I have recipes for this that call for the chicken to be cooked with the sauce. You can just as easily heat up the sauce in a saucepan and add the cooked chicken at the end when the sauce is thick! I do the same with Chicken Paprikash.

8. Hot chicken salad croissants: Mix cooked chicken with enough mayo to moisten, one squirt of Dijon mustard, shredded cheese of your choice, bacon pieces and any seasoning you like. Line up store bought croissants with points facing out to the sides to make a large braid (ya follow?). Scoop chicken salad down center where the wide part of the croissant triangles meet and alternate folding the points over. 375 degrees for 18-25 min. or until golden brown. Or, heat up the chicken salad and serve on buns!

9. Chicken pot pie!

10. Crockpot chicken sandwiches--I love this, but we don't eat it often! lol Cooked chicken with 1-2 cans of cream of chicken soup (I do 1 cr. of chicken and 1 cr. of celery) plus 1- 1/2 cups crushed potato chips and 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese. Throw in crockpot and high for 2 hours. Bam, put on buns!

11. White chicken chilli!

12. Cold chicken pasta salad. Self-explanatory, make the night before for great flavor and add a bit more dressing if needed before serving.


In addition to all that, I also keep on hand GRILLED chicken breast (marinated in Italian dressing or whatever) and slice it up for salads or to throw in pasta.


Favorite current chicken dinner at our house? SUPER easy Hellman's Parmesan Crusted Chicken: http://www.hellmanns...crusted-chicken


And, because you can't possible have enough chicken recipes yet, Leftover Chicken Patties! http://www.food.com/...-patties-119448


The End.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like to make huge pots of soup and then freeze them into dinner-sized portions. Our favorites are Minestrone and roasted corn chowder. Different chilies are also easy to make in large portions, such as standard red chili, chicken and white bean chili, or sausage and black bean chili.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This meal is easy in terms of very little "hands-on" time; however, it requires you to be home for a while. Less time required at home if you happen to have a double oven.


Bake whatever number needed of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Marinate or season with whatever you like.)


Oven-roasted vegetable kebabs: Skewer chunks of peppers, onion, yellow and green squash, and whole mushrooms. Place these directly into a large roasting pan. Drizzle/coat with olive oil into which you have stirred vegetable grilling spices.


[continuing later. . .] The doorbell rang at that juncture. I was going to continue that I oven roast the kebabs at 375 deg. F. until they are fork-tender.


Serve with bread rolls (purchased, if saving time is key).


I do not have a double oven; however, I do have a countertop oven in addition to a wall oven. (This is not a toaster oven, not a convection oven, but a conventional electric oven.) The chicken fit into the countertop oven, and the vegetables went into the wall oven at the same time.


Also, I reported the wacko post sometime earlier.

Edited by Orthodox6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm assuming there are no allergies or diet restrictions :) Well, quick go to. Do you mean you want something you can make in advance and freeze to pull out later? Breakfast casserole - TJ's shredded potatoes layered on the bottom of a greased baking dish. Pan fry (in advance) sausage and then add that on top. Put a generous amt of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Now, here's the weird part, but I guarantee if you follow directions, it will work. Whip 5 eggs. Do not add milk to beaten eggs. Now, pierce - like you are drilling - holes into your potato/sausage/cheese mixture. Pour eggs into the holes. Pierce those holes to the bottom of the pan. Bake at 375 for maybe 30 min. I have an absolutely delicious recipe for shredded beef or shredded chicken enchiladas. If you'd like, lmk. Crepes - you can stuff with fruit and other yummies, which we do and it's more like a desert crepe. You can also stuff with asparagus and cheese, ham and cheese, spinach and mushroom, etc. This would be your dinner entrée. My hamburger celery rice meal. Boiled brown rice. To it add boiled celery and pan fried hamburger. Bind with celery soup. Bake. Optional to add shredded cheese on top near completion. Serve with salad and biscuit. Homemade chicken soup with veggies. Homemade beef veggie soup. Here's a summer idea. It's a cold dinner dish for a HOT day. Boil pasta. I like bow ties, spirals and penne. Add big chunk carrots and broccoli to pasta. Add jar of alfredo sauce. Add boiled diced or pulled chicken. You can add a few grape tomatoes. Serve atop lettuce with a biscuit. Homemade bruschetta - I make this often. The list is endless........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our quickest, easiest meal (that we had tonight because ds9's play rehearsals started this week!) is TJ's microwave indian food. The shelf stable ones, not the frozen. (The frozen are good too, I just like the shelf ones better.) We make some rice to go with it, and some of TJ's frozen naan cooked in the toaster oven. Delicious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 qt. beef stock (from aseptic boxes)

2 lb. soup vegetables, coarsely chopped (carrots, celery, boiler potatoes, peppers, onion, fresh corn cut off from the cob)

fresh cilantro

3/4 C. raw rice


Simmer everything together.


When soup is served, those who wish may stir in finely-shredded Italian-mix cheese (or grated Romano) (not that cardboard dust stuff from a can).


(We just had this for lunch, so I know it is fast to prepare!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...