We all need quick dinner ideas from time to time. Even when we plan ahead we can end up with nights where we need something extremely fast.
There are a lot of resources out there for 30-minute meals, freezer meals, and meal kits but what about those nights where you didn’t plan ahead and 30 minutes is too long?
Even freezer meals often take a while to cook. Some Instant Pot dump meals aren’t bad but most of us don’t do a great job about having things like that on hand. I’ve been terrible about making freezer meals lately.
These busy nights can sneak up on us. The summer months seem to be the worst for us. It’s a busy time and it’s also a time when I don’t want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen so I don’t prepare as well.
This can lead to bad choices and a lot of fast food. I’m not going to say it’s bad to sometimes turn to fast food. I eat it from time to time, but it should be rare.
This post is going to get real, it’s not a Pinterest-perfect post with all these amazing ideas that will make you feel like Martha Stewart. These are very real tips for real people that are busy.
We try to eat healthy all but one day a week, usually Saturday. This helps keep us more on track and limits how much junk food we consume. The problem with this is when those really busy days pop up during the week. We don’t want to just run through a drive-thru.
To help with this I try to keep a few very easy meal ingredients on hand at all times. These are things I can whip together in under 30 minutes, some as quick as 10 minutes. It’s also nice for those nights where the planned meal falls through for some reason.
Quick Dinner Ideas
These meal ideas are so quick and easy that I’m only going to link to a few recipes. If you are new to cooking and do need a recipe for these quick dinner ideas please leave a comment below and I will help walk you through it.
- Quesadillas- I always have tortillas and cheese on hand. Throw in some veggies and/or meat and you have a quick meal.
- Frozen Pizza- If you have the time it’s great if this is a homemade frozen pizza but it’s okay if it’s not. Look for one with better ingredients, there are even organic versions but don’t feel guilty if this is what you go to sometimes.
- Sandwiches- This is one of the quickest dinner options. Throw in some fruit and veggies and it’s a pretty healthy meal option. It’s also easy to take on the go if needed. Grilled cheese and soup is a great option if you have the time and want something hot.
- Cheese Plate- Don’t get fancy just throw some cheese, crackers, meat, fruit, and veggies on a tray and everyone can go at it. It’s a great option for a hot day and another one that can travel well.
- Spaghetti- Noodles and a jar of sauce can go a long way. Toss in some meat or veggies to make it more filling.
- Hot Dogs- Either grilled or on the stove hot dogs are easy and family-friendly. Opt for the uncured, no nitrate options, or veggie hot dogs to keep it a bit healthier.
- Mac & Cheese- I always have mac and cheese on hand. Usually, it’s a side or lunch but sometimes I grab a box and make it for dinner.
- Fish Sticks or Chicken Nuggets- Look for the higher quality items. I like Applegate’s chicken strips or nuggets and breaded cod is my pick for fish.
- Salads- Likely the healthiest quick option is a big salad. You can often use leftovers in your salads to bulk them up.
- Tacos- Who doesn’t love tacos? This is another item I keep tortillas on hand for. Brown up some meat and prepare some veggies and dinner can be served in no time.
I recommend keeping the ingredients for at least 4 of these meals at all times. Most of the ingredients stay good for a long time so it’s okay if you rarely make the meals.
I told you this wasn’t a fancy post. I’m sure these all seem like simple ideas but sometimes being reminded of simple things helps. Also, we are often feeling more motivated when we make meal plans and go grocery shopping so we will buy healthy and good food to make amazing meals. That can leave us short when we do need these super quick meals so it’s important to have these ingredients on hand, just in case.
I’d love to know what meals you’d add to my list. And remember don’t feel guilty reaching for one of these options, just keep it minimal and choose the best options you can.
More Easy Dinner Resources
- Easy 30 Minute Meals
- 50 Healthy Freezer Meals
- 30 Delicious Recipes Using a Rotisserie Chicken
- Meal Planning That Saves You Time and Money