7 Quick & Easy Meals That Will Always Have Your Back

7 Fast Easy Dinners - collage: shrimp stir fry; black bean tacos; sausage and pepper sandwiches

The 7 Quickest Dinners Out There

I don’t have a lot of complicated recipes in my repertoire to begin with, but on occasions when even my relatively simple go-to dinners feel out of reach, I turn to the quickest dinners I know how to make. Whether I’m pressed for time, energy, or patience, sometimes I just want to get something on the table as soon as humanly possible.

Ordering food for delivery or takeout can be a handy option in these scenarios, but it can be an expensive option too, and sometimes it isn’t even particularly fast! (I’ve had more 30-minute deliveries end up taking over an hour than I care to count!)

But if you keep a few quick & easy meals up your sleeve, you’ll always be able to get something delicious and affordable on the table in just about 15 minutes! Check out 7 of the quickest dinners you’ll ever make below.

Bonus Tip: Planning a week’s worth of meals and buying all the ingredients you’ll need to make them can take make dinnertime a lot less stressful. Use my free weekly meal plan templates to plan your meals for the week and make weeknights a lot easier!

7 Fast & Easy Meals You Can Always Rely On

7 Fast Easy Dinners - putting frozen ravioli in a pan with sauce; cooked ravioli on a plate

1. Ravioli Lasagna


  • Fresh or frozen ravioli
  • Pasta sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Sliced veggies (peppers, squash, etc.)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil

Cooking Instructions:

Boil your favorite frozen or fresh ravioli until just before the “al dente” stage. (It’s going to end up in the oven, so you don’t want to be done quite yet.)

Preheat your broiler, and arrange the drained ravioli in the bottom of a casserole dish. On top of the ravioli, add a layer of pasta sauce, then shredded mozzarella, then an assortment of your favorite sliced vegetables, and top it off with some fresh sliced basil and Parmesan.

Put your ravioli “lasagna” under the broiler for about 5 minutes (or until the cheese is melted), then dig in!

Related: 5-Minute Lasagna For Busy Weeknights

7 Fast Easy Dinners - pouring broth into a pan of potatoes other root veggies; bowl of Chicken Sausage Hash

2. Chicken Sausage Hash


  • Chicken apple sausages, fully cooked
  • Diced root vegetables (potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Cooking Instructions:

Slice up the sausages and preheat a bit of oil in a frying pan on your stovetop. When the oil is hot, add the sausage slice to the pan and cook until browned.

Remove the browned sausage from the pan and add your diced root vegetables. Let them brown up in the pan for a few minutes, then add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

Scrape up any stuck-on bits at the bottom of the pan, season the mixture with salt and pepper, then put a lid on the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and keep simmering until the liquid is gone, then put the sausage back in the pan until everything is warmed through. Serve warm, topped with some fresh parsley if desired!

7 Fast Easy Dinners - black bean tacos

3. Black Bean Tacos


  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Canned black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken broth
  • Tortillas
  • Taco toppings

Cooking Instructions:

Cook the diced onion in a pan on your stovetop until soft, then season it with a large pinch of chili powder, a dash of cumin, and salt to taste. Add the black beans and 1/4 cup of either water or chicken broth.

Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and use a fork to smash about half of the beans, then taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve the black bean mixture on warmed tortillas with your favorite taco toppings. (We opted for a bag of shredded cabbage and a jar of salsa, but you could add shredded cheese, cilantro, guacamole, or whatever else you like!)

7 Fast Easy Dinners - stirring peppers and sausages in a saute pan; sausage and pepper sandwiches

4. Sausage And Pepper Sandwiches


  • Chicken sausages, fully cooked
  • Bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Baguettes or hot dog buns

Cooking Instructions:

Slice a chicken sausage in half lengthwise. Slice up the bell pepper and half of an onion, then heat up some oil in a pan on your stovetop.

When the oil is hot, add the sausage, peppers, and onions to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until everything is browned and warmed through.

Spread mustard over both sides of a baguette or hot dog bun, then pile it up with the sausage, peppers, and onions. Talk about the fastest meals to make, right?

7 Fast Easy Dinners: two kinds of mac and cheese: one with cheddar and one with feta and dried tomatoes

5. Mac And Cheese

Mac and cheese is quick, easy, and guaranteed to please even the pickiest of eaters. And even if you’d prefer to make it from scratch than cook up the boxed stuff, it doesn’t take that much more time or effort!

Interested in spicing up your mac? Check out some of my favorite ways to dress up mac and cheese (and grab my quick and easy recipe for homemade mac and cheese at the bottom of that post!)

7 Fast Easy Dinners - shrimp stir fry

6. Shrimp Stir Fry


  • Rice or lo mein noodles
  • Stir fry veggies (chopped/sliced broccoli, onions, mushrooms, carrots, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Frozen shrimp
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Soy sauce

Cooking Instructions:

Start by cooking up some rice or lo mein noodles according to the package directions.

Heat some oil in a wok or sauté pan until hot, then add your stir fry veggies of choice. (Add hardier produce like broccoli and carrots a few minutes before softer, quicker-cooking foods like snow peas or mushrooms.)

When the veggies have softened up, add the minced garlic and ginger and a handful of frozen shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of water and a few dashes of soy sauce.

When your stir fry is hot, bubbling, and seasoned to taste, serve it over the cooked rice or lo mein noodles.

7 Fast Easy Dinners - omelet

7. Omelets


  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Fresh spinach
  • Shredded cheese
  • Omelet add-ins (chopped lunch meat, sliced peppers, sliced mushrooms, etc.)

Cooking Instructions:

Whisk two eggs with a splash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, then set aside.

Melt a pat of butter in a nonstick pan on your stovetop over medium-low heat, then add a handful of spinach leaves and cook for about 30 seconds or so. Pour the egg mixture into the pan so that it coats the bottom.

Use a heat-resistant spatula to lift the edges of the eggs, and tilt the pan gently to allow the uncooked eggs to run under the cooked parts. Continue cooking until the edges are set and the center is wet, but no longer runny, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, sprinkle some shredded cheese (and any omelet add-ins you want to include) over half of the eggs, then use a spatula to fold the finished omelet in half.

Slide the omelet onto a plate and serve immediately.

Related: The Secret Behind Those Extra Fluffy Omelets At IHOP

What are some of your favorite easy to cook meals?

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Food & Recipes

  • The popular Greek Feta pasta is a quick one. You just put olive oil , the cherry tomatoes and the feta cheese in a pan with some spices. The tomatoes will break open and make a sauce. You just boil pasta to serve it with. I’ve also done the stove top version too. When it first became popular l was telling people at work and a few co- workers wanted the recipe.

  • Not quick per se, but definitely quick to put together. Sear a chuck roast in oil until both sides are nice and brown. Add to crock pot. In a mixing bowl, mix cheese soup (not nacho cheese), french onion soup and golden mushroom soup. Do not add water. Pour the mixture over the roast and let it cook for 8-10 hours, or until tender. It will make the best darn gravy ever! Feel free to add veggies like carrots and potatoes. I sometimes add a can of drained green beans OR peas and carrots at the very end.

  • One easy soup recipe – mom actually got from my sister. You use 1 can of the Campbells chicken with rice soup, add a can of black beans and a cup of picante sauce and heat it, Serve it with Tortilla chips and grated cheese. What a great list of easy ideas. I’ll have to show this to my mom. She’s at the age where she likes things that don’t require much effort.

  • Guess I’m a little late to the party from the dates on this one but BLT’s or a panini of whatever they want. They are great for the kids to make for themselves and it does take away the stress of cooking a meal for them. I always have sandwich meats and cheeses in the refrigerator just for these occasions. Canned tomato soup and grilled cheese is a favorite in the colder months.Another that we love is a huge salad that everyone can help make. Summertime we do a lot of days with the salads.

  • Love these quick ideas!i have tried Black Bean Tacos
    Our fix-it fast-meals are breakfast tacos
    sausage, eggs & cheese in tortillas with fruit I have honestly come home, grabbed the ground
    meat from the freezer and had dinner ready in 15 minutes! http://chriply.com

  • Our favorite FAST recipe!!! Ingredients: 1 can chili, Fritoes chili flavor or just regular if you prefer, Sour cream, shreaded cheddar cheese (desired amount). While you are heating the chili, pour Fritoes into bowl, pour the amount of chili you want over Fritoes, Desired amount of cheddar cheese and top off with 1 tablespoon of sour cream. (If we have any scallions we sprinkle a small amount over the chili) So its done in about as fast as you can warm up that chili and its YUM!!!

  • I always have large bags of mixed ‘stir fry type’ veggies in the freezer and nearly always have cooked meat pieces or shredded meat there too. Dump some frozen veggies in a fry pan with maybe a tablespoon of water. Cover. Toss in some of the cooked meat and some soy sauce, Yoshidas or any type of bottled marinade you may have. Stir. Serve.

    I’ve used pre-cooked meatballs, burger and even chicken nuggets once in a pinch….Ha.

  • One of my go-to’s Is:
    Cook 2-3 cup of noodles in microwave. While cooking, sauté veggies in wok with a little oil. Add diced, cooked chicken.
    Drain cup of noodles and add to wok. Mix well and enjoy.
    Cheap and easy when you’re trying to fill up teenaged boys!

  • Where do you see any of these things? I’m guessing this article has been updated recently. In any case I imagine the idea is to get something on the table quickly and without resorting to takeout which gets expensive and is loaded with sodium.

  • A good “back-pocket” recipe I’ve come across just recently is BLT Pasta. Dice up some bacon and tomatoes (or used canned diced tomatoes) and cook the bacon in a hot skillet until crisp. Remove the bacon, but don’t pour off the fat! Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, then add a green like spinach, arugula, watercress, baby kale etc. and cook until wilted. In the meantime heat a separate pot of water and cook some short noodles such as penne, farfalle or fusilli. Drain the pasta, add to the skillet and stir until it’s all mixed. Serve topped with grated Parmesan or romano.

    Several of these recipes look good, although I don’t typically keep frozen or premade products like ravioli or peeled shrimp on hand. And in my experience root vegetables take much longer than 5 minutes to cook, even when diced.

  • We’ve done easy Quessadillas . Like the one mentioned -but without the meat .Also a fast chili. Use one can Hormel Chili without the meat and 1 can diced tomatoes. Then heat up So fast and yummy..

  • Black beans are one of the best foods for your health, your budget, and your waistline. This article will give you a comprehensive introduction to the nutritional value of black beans, along with easy to follow preparation directions that will make you a black bean whiz in no time. Read on to learn the facts about dried and canned black beans, and cooking tips so that you can be sure your black beans will be mouthwateringly plump and tender every time. With so many health advantages to eating black beans on a regular basis, you’ve got plenty to gain from making black beans a part of your regular kitchen repertoire.-

    Visit our own blog site as well

  • My favorite go to recipe is:
    Place a package of frozen pork tenderloins in the crock pot. (The most difficult part of this recipe is taking the wrapping off the tenderloins).
    Cover with a jar of your favorite salsa and some chicken broth to cover pork.
    Cook on high all day. Shred when you are ready for dinner. Great for tacos, served over hot rice and even better the next day in scrambled eggs. YUM!

  • I didn’t read all of the posts but Chili Mac is our quick go to meal. Boil a 1/2 box (or more depending on family size or needed leftovers), drain. Add a heated can of Chili-we like Hormel with chunky. Mix together and it’s done.
    You can doctor it up with cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, salsa, whatever!

    I have to make it plain since my son is allergic to all milk proteins but some off the above goodies to my own bowl!

  • Thank you soo much for sharing these recipes. I cannot tell you how long I have been searching for a list of quick and easy recipes. All of the other lists I have come across seem to be “fancier” recipes or included ingredients I have never heard of. I have a picky little eater (son and hubby) at home and this list would work great with my household!

  • The fastest meal for me which is just very simple. I usually make it for myself. I cook the package of ramen noodles without the seasoning packet. They cook in like 3 minutes, right? (salt), I top with some jarred sauce and a few shakes of “shaky cheese” (parmesan).

    Another fast one – if you have slices of deli roast beef (the roast beef slices at Aldi are good for this), make a packet of beef gravy, add the sliced deli roast beef, some instant mashed potatos. My husband likes a “blue plate special” (bread, mashed potatoes, topped with the roast beef/gravy). Carb heavy, but comfort food at its best!

    Another is homemade beanie weanies. Lightly oil a skillet, fry slices of hotdogs til cooked, add a can of pork & beans, season with a little brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, and onion powder. We eat this along with “spaghetti & cheese” (left over spaghetti pasta made into homemade mac & cheese with just some butter/milk, and a couple of slices of sandwich cheese. You can also make beanie weanies with a small amount of browned hamburger instead of the hotdog slices.

    Love your blog! It reconnects me when I get a little lost for inspiration. Thanks!!!

  • Ohmigosh! Did you say “Cheese Crisp”?? I haven’t heard it called that since I moved away from Arizona in the 80’s. My brother used to make them in the microwave and call them “Cheese Soggies”. :)
    Nowadays, I make them on a griddle… put the yummy stuff on, and once the cheese starts to melt, I fold it in half and let the tortilla get crisp & the cheese all melty. Definitely my number one “quick” meal. Pretty much the same way as Lolalo just posted. Might add chicken, might add ground beef, might add onions and tomatoes… just whatever I have in the fridge.
    btw, I love your blog and I’m glad I found it.

  • Chicken Quesidillas. Simple, easy and delicious! Smear a small amount of butter on tortilla and place on heated griddle. Sprinkle a little leftover shredded chicken on half of tortilla. Cover chicken with shredded cheese. On other half of tortilla, lightly cover with canned green chilies, then fold over. Brown on both sides. Serve with sour cream, salsa, salsa verde, hot sauce, refried beans and enjoy! This takes only five or ten minutes – talk about a quick and easy meal!

  • Growing up when things were “tight” our go to meal was always ramen noodles with eggs in it. Super cheap meal and you can feed a family of 4 for under $3.

  • A few “Go To’s”:

    Ritz Chix: Process a sleeve (or more–keeps well) of Ritz Crackers in processor til fine crumbs. Mix with Parmesan cheese and some garlic powder. Dip chicken breasts–cut up if large or you are feeding kids–into melted butter. Dredge thru crumbs. Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes. Amazing. (the more cheese you add the crispier these will be)

    If you make the crumbs ahead and store them you have this half made already!

    Chicken fajitas: Grill or broil or use whatever left over chicken you have cut or shredded. Place melty cheese on top of a tortilla. Top with chicken. If you want top with more cheese AND / OR veggies–peppers, onions, salsa, beans–and more cheese-either cook “naked” or top with another tortilla. Bake for about 10-15 mins til cheese melts–cut with a pizza slicer. You can roll these and bake ’em in foil for travel; and made with left over or purpose cooked steak—mmmmmmm!

    For the “Faux Lasagna”–you don’t need to boil the ravioli! Just place the frozen ravioli in a large cassarole or rectangular baker and seperate as well as you can–don’t worry about the stuck together ones–and toss with sauce mixed with cheese and whatever veggies you like. Add a little bit of water–maybe a 1/2 cup—COVER and bake for about 15-20 mins and then UNCOVER and top with cheese; bake til cheese melts. One step shorter and faster! We make this ALL the time and it is a hit with everyone from the 2 year old to the picky 6 year old to grandpa.

    Pizza Roll–use thawed frozen bread or pizza dough or canned roll dough. Spray baking pan and lay dough flat on it and pinch seams if needed. Let rest. Brown some ground beef with some sausage (or not!) and veggies-or not. Drain well. Add pasta sauce and cheese. Lay down center of dough and pull sides of dough up to make a log, pinch seams (some water can help them seal if they are not sticky enough) and top with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and cheese; bake. This is also really good with some chopped up pepperoni mixed in!

    I am pretty sure I have about 100 more of these stashed in my brain!!!!!

    OH–and a small “product review”—I tried the new “Fast Cook Pasta”–don’t remember what brand but it was from Walmart–and it was AWFUL!!!!!! All gooey and NO texture but–mush. Waste of time and money.

  • My quick fix is a little on the Hispanic hybrid side (coming from a somewhat traditional Mexican family) but it’s a recipe that my grandmother passed on to my family that my boyfriend loves. My mom and I call it Mexican Macaroni and Cheese, though I’ve never heard of any other families that do this besides our own. All it takes is small macaroni elbows, tomato sauce (with no salt added), your choice of cheese, cumin and black pepper. All you do is boil the macaroni until tender, then leave it on simmer. Add one small can of tomato sauce and add the cumin and pepper to season to taste. I personally avoid the tomato sauce with salt to add my own salt (as a means to control how much I add). Once you mix everything and it starts to bubble slightly, add cheese and allow it to melt and lower the heat.
    This is a great soup to have after a long day and my boyfriend and I usually accompany this dish with “baked” potatoes we make by boiling them in the microwave. We’re college students who work part time and go to school full time so any quick meal that’s not frozen and homemade are our favorites!

  • Love these quick ideas! Our favorite “gotta’ fix it fast” meals are breakfast tacos
    (sausage, eggs & cheese in tortillas with fruit) or taco soup. Not sure who gave me my
    taco soup recipe but brown 1 lb. ground beef, add 1 envelope ranch dressing mix &
    1 envelope taco seasoning. Next you literally dump in 2 cans tomatoes, 1 can drained
    corn & 1-2 cans kidney, black or pinto beans. When it’s all nice & hot, serve it up!
    Sometimes we spoon it over crushed tortilla chips, maybe even some sour cream.
    One thing we always add is cheese! I have honestly come home, grabbed the ground
    meat from the freezer and had dinner ready in 15 minutes!

  • I like to stock up on fully cooked quarter hams when they are on sale–no joke, I have bought 6-8 at a time. Hormel Cure 81 is my fave, but Kentucky Legend and Smithfield are good, too. I freeze slices in meal sized batches. I can have them thawed in the microwave in minutes. Ham slices, a microwave baked potato, and a can of fruit are good together. The slices also make great grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and even at full price is probably cheaper than packaged luncheon meat. This same ham, diced, can be added to eggs and cheese and scrambled–yum. Or–make toast. While is is toasting, scramble some eggs. Make a sandwich with toast, scrambled eggs, a ham slice, and a slice of American cheese. This is a hearty sandwich and can be completed in the time it takes to scrambe the eggs.

  • A fave of mine is “Cheesy ham pasta”.

    Basically, cook the pasta. While that’s happening dice some ham. Drain pasta and warm ham and some frozen veg (I like peas and corn) in the same pan. Add pasta back and mix through with cream and Parmesan cheese.

    You could also use Max & Cheese as a base instead.

  • Hilshire Farms Little Smokies. Toss in a skillet to brown & crisp. Once cooked to your liking, toss in a can of sauerkraut with the Little Smokies. Serve with a little spicy mustard sauce. Takes all of 10 minutes start to finish.

  • I keep cans of beans (black beans, pork and beans, and baked beans) in my cubbard and on a busy night I just brown a little meat ( ground beef or chopped up smoked sausage links) in a skillet or saucepan, add the beans and heat up. I keep raw vegetables, washed and cut up, in the fridge so I get those out with some ranch dressing for dip. I make toast or cook a pan of biscuits and it makes a quick meal that pleases the whole family.

  • These are all great ideas. We just did the pasta with sauce tonight, in fact, since we babysat a very active 9-month old baby girl today. It’s one we do a lot, though we always brown off some ground meat to go with it, usually seasoned with Italian seasoning and onions. Tonight we did a combo of Italian Sausage cut with a little plain old ground beef. No need to season that! It was delicious.
    I really wish I could try more of these recipes…but, you see, I have the world’s pickiest mother. She won’t eat anything that’s Asian-inspired, won’t marinate meat, I highly doubt she’ll eat tuna melt or casserole. However, the beauty of it is that many of these can take substitutions! Definitely some to try during this hectic time of year!

  • I always have a filled pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc.) and broccoli in my freezer. When I’m in a hurry I boil them (toss the broccoli in the water when the pasta is almost done) and then toss it with olive oil, chopped garlic (or garlic powder if I’m really in a hurry), salt, and pepper! It’s super quick and tasty, and reasonably nutritious. English muffin pizzas (or bagel pizzas) with a salad is also a classic quick meal!

  • Slice flank steak against the grain and toss with cornstarch. Saute in a pan with some olive oil. While it’s cooking (fast) make your sauce. 1/2 c each of water and soy sauce, some garlic, 2/3 c brown sugar and some ginger. I just use the powdered kind. When the meat is done pour the sauce in and cook until it thickens, about a minute. Top with green onions and serve with rice. I always keep frozen cooked rice in the freezer for this.

  • Our fave is cheesey crescent rolls!
    Similar to pigs in a blanket, but use cheese sticks instead of hot dogs & have marinara sauce for dipping!
    Goo-ey yummy mess!

  • My go to quick dinners are: bean (or any kind of leftovers) burritos, quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and strawberry/blueberries + spinach smoothie (protein powder optional).

  • Oh, these would make great Christmas gifts, too! Along with Bread Machine bread mixes.

    I do the same thing with my bread machine recipe. As I’m making one in the machine, I also dump the ingredients (as I’m dumping them into the machine) into 7 or 8 baggies. I then start the machine. Adjust the water/flour until it’s right and then close the lid on the machine. I then close the zip bags, shake the contents to disperse the salt, sugar and yeast within the flour. Open and squeeze the air out, close it back up and leave it on my shelf for a couple of months or in the freezer for longer storage time. (I keep my yeast in the freezer, so it’s good even when it’s “out of date”.) In 22 years, I’ve never lost a batch of bread to bad yeast and I don’t bother to proof it. Just toss it in with the dry ingredients. If I’m going to leave the bread mix for more than 2-3 months, I go ahead and put it in the freezer. (If using home ground whole wheat, freeze it as you don’t want to lose the nutrition in it. Store-bought flour is already dead by the time you get it. That’s why they generally add vitamins back into it.)

    I keep a 3×5 card taped inside the cabinet over where the machine sits. When I’m ready to make the bread, I open the cabinet to see how much and in what order to put in the wet ingredients. I add them, start the machine and adjust water/flour until I have a proper texture for my dough.

  • Do you know how quick it is to make homemade Rice-a-roni? VERY! lol about the same amount of time to find and open the box and there’s no preservatives in it that YOU don’t put in it yourself. Plus, no MSG or other stuff (allergies anyone?) you don’t want in it. You can make it with whole wheat pasta, or GF pasta (if there is such a thing). You can make it vegan if you want.

    Suzanne McMinn of Chickens in the Road blog has a post on how to analyze what you buy in the store so you learn how to replicate it. Posted here:


    Or you can Google homemade Rice-a-roni and there are even more ideas.

    The short of it is:
    Rice and small/thin pastas, toasted in a pan with some butter. Add stock/bouillon cube/etc to the toasted r/p mix. Add in some diced, cooked chicken (or beef, etc) any veggies (dehydrated or not. Just factor in that the dried/dehydrated will need more water). Bring the whole thing to a boil, stir, plop on a lid, turn down heat to simmer/low. Cook WITHOUT removing lid for 10 minutes. Take off heat and let sit, again WITHOUT removing lid, for 14 minutes. Remove lid, fluff and you’re done. If you wanted, you could saute some onions – partially cooking them, before adding the r/p. Can add in some garlic near the end of toasting r/p. Or you can just use onion powder, garlic powder and any other seasoning you’d like in it.
    You can even make bulk mixes that are ready to grab and go. Line up however many zip type bags or 1/2 pint/pint/quart jars you’d like to have ready to use. Start with the rice. Place as much measured rice as you’d like in each container. Then added the measured pasta. If using vermicelli, break it up into 1″ pieces. Add any dry seasonings you’d like – onion powder, garlic powder, Mexican, Italian, Greek, etc seasonings (Google the seasoning to find DIY recipes) Tumeric, whatever you’d like to season it with (check the box of your favorite flavor to see what’s in it). Then bouillon cubes/crumbles. Perhaps a little flour (GF works, too) to thicken it as it cooks. Any dried/dehydrated meats or veggies you’d like in it. Pop a lid on and use it within a few months or place an oxygen absorber in it and it will last for several years. Easy-peasy to grab and fix.

    • You can buy pre-cut toasted vermacelli in the Indian section of some grocery stores…I saute some ground lamb with a little curry paste, frozen peas, onions, and garlic then add the vermacelli, water, and simmer for about 5 min. Quick and yummy.

  • Pasta alfredo. I use Martha Stewart’s awesome recipe, which is just garlic, Parmesan, and butter. My boys LOVE it, and call it “Mommy Pasta.” I can make a quick veggie (steam some frozen veggies), and garlic buns for a really fast dinner.

  • Even quicker than ramen noodles are rice noddles all you do is soak them in hot water for a few minutes and they are ready for throwing them in some veggie stir fry fast and easy :)

  • One can chopped green beans with the water into a sauce pan. Add one Kielbasa sausage cut into chunks and 3 or 4 small potatos pealed and cubed. Cook until the potatos are tender. One of my fav dinners and one my whole fam will eat!

  • I like to use my crock-pot to make chicken fajitas. Frozen chicken breast, taco seasoning, sliced bell peppers and onions, some water or chicken broth on low before i leave in the morning. Shred chicken with 2 forks when i get home, warm up some canned black beans, tortillas. Your last one looks really fast and good, all you have to cook is pasta.

  • just thought of this idea..what about a potato, ham, broccoli and cheese soup? Prepare Jillee’s S.O.S. mix with broth (a little less than normal to account for the water in the frozen items), throw in frozen hash browns and frozen broccoli till cooked through. Add chopped deli ham, cheese of choice, and voila. Pair it with a side salad, and dinner’s done…Sounds yummy :) If you anticipate the rushed evening, in the morning/ night before, set a bowl with hash browns and broccoli in fridge to thaw.

  • orida makes a frozen mashed potato. you just throw the whole bag in the micro. dump in a bowl add some milk, mash and viola! way better than instant potatoes :)

  • Two ideas–
    #1 Take a whole wheat pita, cut in half and open the pocket, smear applesauce on the inside, slice any kind of apple (love Granny Smith)very thin, stuff pita- with apples and toss in some raisins and a dash cinnamon, top with shredded mozzarella, wrap in foil and bake in toaster oven. Used this when the kids had to eat in the car because of multiple activities in one night. They stay warm in the foil and if they get cold the are still very good. Make extra for when the activity is over; they can eat more on the way home– or so they can feed a friend who missed dinner. Also good after a brutal day/week/month & you need to curl up and lick your wounds while soaking your feet.
    #2. If you actually have time to sit at the table. DIY Hamburger helper: brown meat, add 3 C hot water, stir in 1 1/2C egg noodles and package of onion soup mix, simmer till noodles are cooked. Also this website has DIY Hamburger Helper Kits you can make ahead
    Don’t forget Jillee’s chicken marinades, I have one in the fridge defrosting now, pop in the oven, add a good bread & salad & call it done.

    • Thanks for the reminder! I think that’s what’s going to be for dinner TONIGHT! :-) (btw…did you get my email about being the Michael’s gift card winner???? Email me girl!)

    • I love the pita idea! I would totally do this, just with brie instead of mozzarella. And we always have apple butter around because my hubby loves the stuff and I don’t. Thank you!!

  • This is my go-to 5 minute meal. All ingredients can be kept on hand. Delicious!
    1/2 box capellini (angel hair pasta)
    1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice
    1 (10 oz.) can whole baby clams ( or minced or chopped- whatever you have)
    1 (10 1/2 oz.) can white clam sauce
    3/4 c. very hot tap water
    1 tbsp. olive oil
    1/2 c. chopped onion
    Chopped parsley and crushed red pepper
    Minced garlic
    Locatelli or other grated Italian cheese

    Break capellini in half and put in large skillet. Drain juices from canned sauce and clams into skillet. Add bottled clam juice, 1/2 cup hot tap water, and oil. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Boil 3 minutes, stirring with a fork 3 times to break up pasta. Add remaining ingredients, including clams and sauce. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 3 minutes. Stir in rest of very hot tap water. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Serves 4 people immediately.

  • We just had this the other night (using leftover turkey):

    Chicken Tortilla Soup: 16 oz salsa, 2-3 cups chicken broth, 2 cups cooked chopped chicken, 1 can rinsed and drained black beans, 1-2 cups frozen corn, some chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice to taste. Bring to a simmer. Works great in the crock pot, too, just add everthing and turn on low till hot. It’s also easy to customize – I use mild salsa for the kids, and add more corn and beans. I serve with baked tortilla chips and a little sour cream.

  • Chili Mac is good. Just use a box of Mac and cheese and had heated chili. Really good! Frito Pie is another good fast and easy one. We also keep canned roast beef and gravy, chicken, and ham on hand. And the crock pot is always a good thing to make.

  • I love this article! I’m a medicare insurance agent and this is the craziest time of the year. I’m never home in time to make a meal from scratch. My family and I eat a lot of Express Meals from Thrive…ultra healthy and extremely fast. Last night, we had the Southwest Chicken & Rice and it was absolutely delicious. With a shelf life of 5 years, we have an assortment of these express meals in our 72 hours emergency kits.

    My favorite from your list is the grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup…yum….

  • I have seriously a FIVE MINUTE soup recipe that is so YUM! I’ll have to go find the exact recipe but it’s about 2 to 3 cups beef broth, 1 reg sized pkg. fully cooked frozen italian style meatballs (I like the petite ones), 1 – 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes (italian style works best), and about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of frozen peas. Put it all in a pot, bring it to a boil and serve it up with some oyster crackers or saltines. I found it on the back of a can of tomatoes one time and I’ve been a fan ever since. You should seriously try it. In fact, I think I need to make this and blog about it. ;)

    • I make the same soup but use tortellini (frozen or dried) instead of meatballs, I have also replaced the peas with 1/2 C canned (& rinsed) black beans and a chunk of frozen chopped spinach to kick up the nutrition. Serve with a good bread.
      There are so many flavored tomatoes now you can all kinds of variations: beef broth, Hunts Spicy Red Pepper Canned Tomatoes or S & W Mexican Recipe Tomatoes, drained corn, rinsed/drained beans, diced cooked chicken, handful of rice & top with cheddar cheese — makes a good stew like dinner serve with tortillas.

  • First…I cannot tell you how much I love this website. I have a family of 7 and cook every night of the week other than Saturday. KITCHEN IS CLOSED! lol
    One of my kid’s favorite meals and a VERY fast one is my southwest salad. We always have lettuce around here for a quick salad, but this one is a whole meal.
    Any lettuce you want…(bag will work), chicken breasts that I grill with chili powder on them. OR if I am in a time crunch (4 of them play sports and my husband is a varsity coach..) I buy the chicken strip already cooked and warm them in the microwave sprinkled with chili powder. ( not as good, but will work).
    I then put together the salad, place chicken on top, add crunched up tortilla chips (optional), shredded cheese and the dressing, which is one part ranch to one part salsa (jar). My kids were actually asking for this last night.
    This is just ONE of my fast recipes, but my family’s favorite. You can play with this one to make as healthy or not so healthy as you wish. Enjoy.

      • Cori, my family has done the same recipe, but used mayo I stead of ranch. The ranch dressing would add zing! Thanks. Jillee, I found your website a few months ago, and I love how positive and useful it is. Thank you, too!

  • What a great list of quickie meals! Gives me some good ideas of staples to keep around the house. I just signed up for your email list last week and have been enjoying it immensely! Thank you so much! <3

  • Pasta Carbonara – boil a box of spaghetti. Beat 4 eggs with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Drain the pasta, immediately toss with egg mix – keep mixing vigorously to keep eggs from scrambling. Toss in some cooked chopped bacon (store bought real bacon bits in a pinch), grind some pepper on top, add a bagged salad for a side and you’re done.

    Teriyaki Chicken Bowls – Slice cooked chicken and toss with teriyaki sauce. Serve over rice (LOVE TJ’s frozen brown rice!) with some steamed fresh or frozen broccoli and carrots.

  • 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!

    • 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! :-)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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.

      • Double a recipe, label and freeze half.
        Taco Seasonings with less sodium: 4 Tbsp chilli powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp dry oregano, 2 tsp ground roasted cumin, sea salt. Combine all ingredients, for into airtight container and store in cupboard for up to 6 months.

  • 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? :)

  • 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.

    • TACO SEASONINGS (with less sodium): 4 Tbsp chilli powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp dry oregano, 2 tsp ground roasted cumin, sea salt. Combine all ingredients, pour into airtight container and store in cupboard for up to 6 months.

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • 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!

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