Quick meal ideas for busy people

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm still a little stuck with ideas for posts, but I'm committing to posting regularly anyway. I've had lots of people ask me about meal ideas - especially the cheap and super fast ones. Pinterest can be amazing, but a little daunting too, so here are some tried and true we-make-it-all-the-time options. Hopefully you'll find some stuff you can work into your meal rotations. I didn't want to make this endlessly long, but here are 5 quick dinners, one make ahead breakfast; one longer dinner; and 2 if you've really got time and want to knock it out of the park. Links included.

Brie, Bacon & Fig Jam Grilled Cheese
from Sweet Sugar Bean
This will knock your socks off. The first time I made it, Thomas was speechless for the whole meal. I just asked him, "Thomas, are you having a relationship with your sandwich right now?" He just nodded yes with big puppy dog eyes. Our tips: cut your bacon strips in half (good, thick bacon) before cooking; get the wedge of brie, not the round; the fig jam (don't skip it) can be found in your grocery store near the pb&j; we use good, thick Pepperidge Farmhouse Sourdough; butter the outside of the sandwich on both sides. This wins no awards for healthy eating. But it takes the cake in melt-in-your-mouth amazingness and it's very fast.

Savory Breakfast Muffins
from My Bizzy Kitchen
Not a dinner idea, but these are great for making ahead and freezing. I had to play around with it a bit to get the results I wanted, but by adding a little more buttermilk to the too-dry dough, skipping the roasted red pepper, and adding cheddar cheese, they worked out great. I'm due to make another batch soon. The nutrition facts are listed under the recipe.

Roman Holiday Pasta
from Faith and Macaroni
This quickly became one of the most visited places on my blog. Several friends have made it now and they agree- it's as good as I say it is. This is quick and can easily serve 1 person or 10. Adding veggies or chicken would be very easy to do and could easily put this in the one-dish meal category.

French Dip Crescents
from Mama Loves Food!
Fast and cheap and delicious. Our changes: using the large size crescent rolls; only using half the recipe (it's usually just me and Thomas); using whatever roast beef is on sale- prepackaged or deli counter; Provolone cheese sliced or grated (whatever we have on hand); and extra horseradish sauce instead of the au jus. Out of these recipes, you need to try this. It's about 5 minutes of prep and then the rest is short baking time. Pared with a salad and some fruit, this is a family favorite. Lots of good recipes on her site.

Chicken gyros
This took a whopping 2 minutes to put together. Inspired by the Chicken Gyros at a favorite local restaurant (the Mustard Seed), these are so fast. I'm going to give you the absolute quickest way to put these together. To lower the cost, you can make some things on your own. Ingredients: Crumbled feta; small & thick pitas; washed Romaine lettuce; pre-made tzatziki sauce (got mine at Trader Joe's for $3); pre-grilled chicken (can also be found at Trader Joe's, or cook ahead yourself). Place a pita (or half of one) on your plate. Top with Romaine. In a separate bowl mix the hot, cooked chicken (I like mine cubed, strips work) and the tzatziki sauce so the chicken is thoroughly coated. Put on top of your pita. Top with crumbled feta. It doesn't get much simpler. Can also add tomatoes or cucumber too. Another thing that's easy for one person or a crowd. Sorry I don't have pictures.

Fish tacos
Oh this really isn't a recipe. It's just letting you know that there's an update to taco night. We buy the large bags of frozen tilapia fillets and use them up this way. Get a package of the Kraft Fresh Take Chili Lime & Panko breadcrumb mix (refrigerated section). Prepare and cook the thawed fish according to the Kraft directions. Slice the fish and use that for your tacos instead of ground beef. In addition to the traditional route of lettuce, cheese, salsa, etc, we also love the Kraft Sandwich shop Chipotle Mayo. It's not too spicy, but adds a nice kick. Again, very fast.

If you have a little more time and really want to impress...
Bang Bang Chicken (or Shrimp) - one of Thomas's all-time favorites
Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo -a much requested meal. Easy, but time-intensive.
Ina Garten's Shrimp Scampi (doesn't take that much longer)

*Kraft didn't pay me to say those things, just sharing some products that we honestly use and love. Trader Joe's likewise did not compensate me for promoting them. I just get lots of "where'd you get that?" questions and I thought I'd share.

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