One kid needs homework help. The other has practice in less than an hour and oh, dinner? Let’s just say it’s not going to make itself. With these quick dinner ideas and tips, you’ve got a fighting chance of making it through the after-school shuffle and feeding the family without breaking a sweat. So keep cool and read on!
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Chop, measure and mix ingredients on the front end to save time on the back end. Yep, it’s that simple. Whether you gather and prep ingredients on the weekend before the rush of the week begins or pull double duty—prepping dinner while you pack kids’ lunches in the morning—you’ll save time by having everything ready to go in the evening.
Embrace pre-made ingredients.
Trust us, learning to love pre-made products will set you free. Using items like rotisserie chicken (simply shred it and throw it on top of a bagged salad for a filling main course) or jarred pasta sauce (you can customize it with fresh veggies and spices) is a busy parent’s best-kept secret for easy, healthy dinners. Also, don’t think about shying away from frozen foods when you’re short on time. You’re welcome.
Keep your pantry and freezer stocked.
If you've got your pantry filled with staple items, it's a lot easier to throw something together in a flash. Think spaghetti noodles and marinara sauce, loaded baked potatoes or even chicken noodle soup. You'll be amazed at what you can create with the basics. Here are our favorite recipes that use items you should have on hand most of the time.
Enlist the kids to help.
It’s true. Many hands do make light work. So put the family to the task as you work to get dinner on the table. Want to know just what they can handle? Read up on age-appropriate kitchen tasks to get started.
Serve breakfast for dinner.
It doesn’t get easier (or faster) than a big egg scramble packed with veggies, served alongside a protein (did someone say bacon?) and fruit to make dinner complete. Fancy it up with pancakes or waffles, and you’ll still be done in record time. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Find our favorite recipes here.
Farm it out.
If you haven’t tried a meal delivery service, now’s the time. Each meal includes everything you need to get food on the table—stat! Use them in a pinch, or make this easy option part of your weekly meal plan agenda.
Stock up on make-ahead meals.
Spend your spare weekend hours prepping dinners for the week. With these kid-friendly recipes, meals are made ahead of time, frozen and then heated up in no time when they’re needed.
Keep ingredients simple.
Fewer ingredients mean less prep time, which means your family eats in less time too. The best part? Our favorite three-ingredient meals boast bold flavors and creative twists on the familiar you and the kids will love.
Pull out the pots.
That Instant Pot you bought on Amazon during Prime Days? The slow cooker you’ve got tucked away in a cupboard somewhere? Put them to work so you can focus on something else. Throw together one of these slow cooker recipes in the morning, and dinner will be waiting for you when you get home. Or rock some of our Instapot faves in the dinner rush to save time.
Learn to love leftovers.
Capitalize on all that work you do making dinner the rest of the week when you repurpose leftover dinner items on a busy night. Heat them and set them out so everyone can choose their favorites. Or get creative by transforming bits and pieces into a whole new dish. Kudos to you, chef!
Know your recipes.
When it comes to quick dinners, having a deep recipe bench is the name of the game, and filling it with recipes that clock in around 15 minutes, prep-to-table, is how you win. Put these heavy-hitters in your lineup for easy weeknight cooking.
24 Weeknight Dinners to Add to Your Arsenal
10 Easy Dinners You Can Make for Less than $15