When the workday has proven uncharacteristically busy, the last thing exhausted parents feel like doing is cooking. However, no matter how tired you may be, your family still needs to eat. What can you whip up in a jiffy when you didn’t take time to do any weekend food prep and you forgot to set the slow cooker up in the morning?
Quite a bit, actually. The recipes below require 30 minutes or less to prep, and they are sure to please even picky palates. Next time you need a satisfying meal in a hurry, draw some inspiration from the list below. Or, if you’re the type of person that likes to cook smart – why not try out some great pressure cooker recipes that are both healthy and quick.
This dish blends the mild tang of zucchini with the delicate flavor of ricotta and goat cheese to make a perfect Italian-inspired main dish or side. Using skim or part-skim ricotta lowers the fat content of the dish considerably. You can serve these up with a side of marinara for dipping or dig in as is with a leafy green salad as accompaniment. Enjoy all the fun of cheesy bread without the high carbohydrate content!
Nearly everyone benefits from eating more fish as its high in omega-3 fatty acids critical for brain and neural health. And prepping salmon need not take a lot of time, especially when you can cook the entire meal in just one pan. The lemon juice in this recipe pairs perfectly with both the fish and the crisp asparagus.
If you like spicy without taking a ton of time to marinate your foods, you will adore this dish which uses very few ingredients. While the chicken takes a bit longer to cook through, the vermicelli cooks up in only five minutes. If you want to be fancy, add a sprig of garnish from your kitchen herb garden, or throw in real peppers for extra crunch and spice.
4. Pesto Penne with Shrimp and Peas
Spinach is a protein powerhouse — remember Popeye? — and this dish combines the goodness of the dark green veggie with peas for an added boost. Shellfish like shrimp contain few calories and are basically raw protein on a fork, so those looking to hit the gym the next day will adore this dish. Want even more protein power? Substitute penne made from ancient grains for the regular white flour version and cut gluten and carbs while fueling your muscles even more.
If anything screams comfort food more than mac and cheese, I’ve yet to find it. This comfort classic gets an upgrade in this easy recipe which proves nearly as simple to make as popular orange insta-brands. Plus, making it homemade allows you to cook the pasta to taste and to add different cheeses if you so desire (the recipe calls for cheddar).
The flavor makes you think this hearty soup has simmered on the stove for hours, however, it cooks up so quickly, you’ll barely have time to stop at the market for a roll of crusty French bread to accompany it. The secret to getting the consistency just right is waiting until the dish is removed from the heat source to add the cheese. And as with any homemade dish, you can experiment with variations on the sharp cheddar theme to find the perfect flavor your family loves.
Hungry mamacitas and their cubs will flip for this south-of-the-border-inspired recipe. The spiciness of chorizo blends perfectly with the mild, salty flavor of corn tortillas. Plus, salsa is chock-full of tomatoes and other veggies like peppers and cilantro, making getting your phytonutrients easy. These taste amazing with no sauce at all, too, and you can optionally top these with peppers for color and crunch.
Nothing says summer like some tasty seared fish, and this tuna recipe never disappoints. Plus, if you don’t like your pad smelling like a cat food container, you can sear the tuna on the grill (adopting all the feral cats who swarm your porch optional). Opt for shaved veggies in a variety of colors to get the biggest vitamin and mineral punch — each color of veggie has a unique phytonutrient profile based upon their color.
Spaghetti gets an upgrade with this dish. The eggplant adds an interesting texture, and those who like things spicy can add red pepper flakes to their hearts’ content. When paired with a deep green salad like spinach or kale, you have a vegetarian feast fit for a queen (omit the ricotta if you prefer vegan eating). Pair with a crisp Sauvignon blanc and enjoy a romantic evening right on your own deck.
Mushrooms are mad delish, and this dish tastes great over pasta or steak, depending upon your carnivorous nature or lack thereof. This dish cooks up in the precise amount of time it takes to sear a filet or cook up a pound of linguine. You can also serve this creamy stroganoff over rice risotto style and add peas to the mix if you like.
Quick and Easy Meals for Busy Parents
Moms and Dads alike all experience days when cooking dinner is the last thing they want to do. But nourishing your family need not take a lot of time. By following the recipes above, you and your loved ones will eat great with no trip through the drive thru necessary.