World’s Fastest Dinners!

fast dinnersThings are getting crazy around here! It’s that time of year when the calendar just keeps filling up and the time I have to cook dinner just keeps going down.

Last night we had Cafe Rio for dinner because I had a late meeting and the hubster is out of town on a business trip. The night before I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, whipped up some instant mashed potatoes and THAT’S IT!

As I was doing the dishes after that meal I decided I have GOT to come up with some more FAST meals to cook in a time pinch! I’m talking SUPER fast! I did a little online research and some food websites idea of a “fast” meal is 40 minutes or less!  Umm….no…I need some SERIOUSLY  fast meals!

So here are MY TOP 5 FASTEST DINNERS, followed by several more I found at the website

  • Rotisserie Chicken – combined with instant mashed potatoes and a canned or frozen veggie thrown in.
  • Tuna Melts –  No. 3 son LOVES these. They are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. You can use canned chicken or canned salmon in place of the tuna if you’d like.
  • Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil – self-explanatory.
  • Grilled Flank Steak – cut a piece of flank steak into strips, pour your favorite marinade over the strips (I used Yoshida’s Oriental Marinade) and let marinate for whatever amount of time you have available. Cook on the outdoor grill or on the George Foreman grill.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup – My Mom used to make this for me…now I make it for my kids!


More SUPER FAST dinner inspiration:

Omelette – 2 eggs, some chopped tomatoes and scallions. Dinner in under 5 minutes. Serve with a bagel or toast.


Pasta and Sauce – Boil some water, microwave some sauce. It doesn’t get much faster than that!


Steak Under The Broiler – serve with a side of steamed veggies.


Chicken and Rice-A-Roni – prepare chicken flavored rice-a-roni according to package directions. While rice is simmering add to it chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces and your favorite veggies chopped. A complete meal in 20 minutes with only one pot to wash.


Zatarain’s Dirty Rice – add browned ground beef and green olives.


Progresso Lentil Soup (three ways)
– add a couple of cut-up turkey hotdogs and some frozen chopped spinach.
– splash in a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar and serve with a tomato and feta salad and some bread or Triscuits.
– crumble some italian sausage in a pan and brown it and then add the can of lentil soup with a little olive oil. While that is heating up cook some small shell pasta. When pasta is done, drain and put in a bowl and ladle the lentil soup over for a quick hearty meal!


Annie’s Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese – add frozen peas to the boiling pasta 2 minutes before it’s done.


Top Ramen Stir Fry – cook the top ramen as directed without the seasoning packets. Drain noodles and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and stir fry a cut-up chicken breast or 2 eggs and then the veggies. Add 1 packet of the seasoning to the stir-fry and taste. Add back the noodles and stir-fry for another minute or so.


“Baked” Potato – microwave a russet potato. While it’s being cooked, heat up a can of cheddar cheese soup and add a can of mixed vegetables or some chopped broccoli. Pour it over the potato.


Orzo – boils up quickly, toss with olive oil, cracked black pepper and parmesan cheese. You could also throw in a handful of frozen shrimp, or leftover chicken.


“Fake” Tuna Casserole –  Chop up and cook 1/2 an onion, then make a box of Trader Joe’s mac and cheese. Add the onions, a can of tuna, and frozen peas. Easy comfort food!


“Fake” Lasagna – boil your choice of ravioli until just before al dente. Meanwhile, prep your favorite tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella, parmesan, and veggies. Preheat the broiler. When the ravioli are done and drained, layer ravioli, sauce, cheese, and veggies in a casserole dish and finish off with parmesan cheese on top. Stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Whole dish can be made in 15 minutes.


Fried Rice – works great with leftover rice! Throw an egg in a pan with some oil and scramble. When the egg is cooked through, add chopped ham and frozen peas. Then add the rice with a little water to break up the rice. Stir fry with soy sauce and oyster sauce to taste.


Salsa Chicken – boneless chicken breast cooked in a pan or in the microwave then topped with salsa! You can also add corn and/or black beans — or whatever you want. Serve with refried beans (from a can), tortillas, and sour cream and you are set.


Cheese Tortilla (or “Cheese Crisp”) – take one large flour tortilla for each person and place them on baking sheets. Lightly cover with grated cheese, dot with some salsa and, if available, some diced green chiles from a can. Place in a 350 degree oven (no need to preheat) and heat until the cheese is melted. To be a proper cheese crisp it needs, of course, to be baked until the tortilla is crisp. Each person gets one on a big plate.


And last but not least…..a recipe that isn’t technically SUPER FAST, but sounded SO delicious I decided to include it anyway. :-) I’m definitely going to be trying this one SOON!


Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Linguine – Cook pasta. In separate bowl mix egg yolk, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and a bit of cream. Drain pasta and reserve some pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce.


So hopefully SOMETHING  listed above will inspire you during this crazy, busy time of year! Because no matter HOW busy we get, we still need to feed ourselves and our families without having to resort to unhealthy and over-priced “fast food”.

Now it’s YOUR turn!  I can’t wait to hear what you feed your families during “crunch time”!


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  1. Esther says

    We grow our own potatoes and we had a good crop this year. Whenever I boil or steam some for other dishes, I will cook extras. When time is scarce, I just slap some butter in a skillet, add the potatoes and crack open a couple or three eggs right in with the potatoes, season with Mrs. Dash’s Table Blend and you have a delicious meal in minutes. Served with fresh fruit or a lettuce salad…..delish!

  2. Michelle says

    Another way to top the baked/nuked potato is with chili beans from a can and your favorite chunky salsa. It’s tasty and really filling.

  3. Anita Walker says

    Since we have fresh eggs all year, my go-to recipe is almost always fried egg sandwiches/cheese. Yummy, gooey and satisfying!! Although, I have been known to open up a can of pot roast (or roast beef) and pour over instant potatoes or serve with those new Steamers that have rice or potatoes in them. I’m blessed with a non-picky hubby!!

  4. Georgann G says

    Pasta with creamed spinach and parmesan.

    Might sound weird, but the creamy spinach makes a nice sauce! I like mine very green, so I use about half to 3/4 lb of pasta per package. (for a family, I would do a pound of pasta and two packages of creamed spinach). My favorite is Birds Eye, but my store doesn’t carry it anymore. Green Giant isn’t bad. Cook pasta- any shape. Heat creamed spinach in microwave. Drain pasta and toss with warmed spinach. You might have to add a splash of half and half or milk if it looks a little dry. Top with grated parmesan.

    • Linda says

      Oh, that sounds yummy! I always have cream spinach in the freezer. What a great idea! Thanks, Georgann

  5. Safaia says

    Can do tuna helper from scratch with mac and cheese, peas and tuna.

    hotdogs/fries (or sausages)

    What i call taco burger helper, take mac and cheese, hamburger (or other choice of ground meat) and a package of taco seasoning. Make the mac , fry up the meat, then mix it all together.

    Quick stew, cream of mushroom soup, mixed veggies and fry stew meat (longest part is frying the meat) mix together, spice if ya want, and heat till warmed through

    Black beans and rice. Take can of black beans and cook, take package of yellow rice and cook, mix together or top the rice with the beans.

  6. says

    I LOVE your blog–I saw the first three fast dinner ideas and thought, “Oh, that’s nice…” But then I realized that there were like a MILLION suggestions and I with a glow, I thought, “Oh, I love Jillee,” haha. Easy food at our house? What about pancakes for dinner? They’re always a hit and so fast. I don’t even use a mix… but I guess for your gluten-free group, you might need one. ;) I have a great go-to recipe that has SIX eggs, which makes me feel like for every pancake it makes, my kids are getting an egg in that portion… Protein, SCORE! And doesn’t syrup count as a vegetable? :)

    • Deanna says

      Have you seen the movie “Elf”? Syrup is a whole food group in and of itself. Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup…

      And now you know. =-}

  7. Kelly says

    Although your recipes are fast and easy they are loaded with sodium, sugar and fat. If you don’t have to worry about that then you are lucky. Love your website BTW!

    • says

      And some of them are with MSG…. however, for me, I don’t mind sodium (real salt) and fat, I am just trying to avoid MSG and sugar.

    • says

      The recipes are full of the things listed, but it is easy to make some from scratch and use less. My go to Betty Crocker mac & cheese recipe is easy to double and freeze, and the most time is boiling the noodles. Once it is put together, you bake for 1/2 hr. I make a double batch on the weekend and freeze half.
      Using the weekend to make double batches of things makes it easier, then you just freeze them for later in the week.

  8. says

    Hash is something I make when in a hurry. It can be made of anything left over in the fridge. Last night I had left over roast beef and potatoes, so I first sauteed some onions and peppers in olive oil in the skillet and added the beef and potatoes, salt & pepper and any seasonings. Add a good salad on the side and you have supper in a pinch. You can also do the same thing with other meats or rice.

    I also like to make homemade soups that are quick and easy — Saute meats (or left over meats or no meat at all) along with onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, etc., add a can of white beans and some chicken or beef broth along with your seasonings.

    Rachael Rae has lots of 30 minute meals that are terrific and really do only take about 30 minutes. Great post for busy days.

  9. Heather says

    Homemade pizzas are our “hurry” staple dinner. The “crust” is whole wheat pita bread, some pizza sauce (or, in our case leftover spaghetti sauce in the frig from a previous night), cheese, and whatever toppings we desire. Our toaster oven can cook 2 at a time (if we don’t want to turn on the oven) in less than 5 minutes. Best of all, the kids BEG to make their mini-pizzas themselves. And…they’re big enough to be filling for my 16 y/o son, too!

  10. says

    One of my most stressful things in my life is to decide what to cook. I feed my parents 2-3 times per week (my mom has dementia so she doesn’t cook unless my dad wants to burn the house down). And I work until 3:30, but thankfully I work from home so I am able to start something in the crockpot if necessary.

    But for me, coming up with ideas is what is the worst. I have no creativity. I stress out so much about this. So these are helpful, although many of the ideas have MSG which instantly gives me a headache… I can take these ideas and run with them. THANK YOU!

    • says

      Rebecca…..that is what this website is all about! Taking ideas…giving them my own spin and then letting the rest of you run wild with them! :-)

      Look at the list we are creating with everyone contributing! I love it! :-)