Quick, Easy Dinners?

Updated on June 07, 2011
M.B. asks from Santa Monica, CA
17 answers

I have a toddler and will start watching my ailing mom 3 days a week.
What easy dinners can you recommend for rest of family when they get home?
Today I will pick up a rotisserie chicken and potatoe salad.
It HAS to be quick because I have to keep up my toddler and tend to my mother. It is very difficult.
I don't have to motivation to cook meals ahead of time. Thank you for any ideas.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Easiest for me?
Bertolli makes dinners for 2 (2 bags = 4!). Chicken Parmasean, Rigatoni and Sasuage, etc.... 9 minutes and it's done and delicious! They're frozen.

Otherwise anything in the crockpot. You can do pulled pork, Italian beef, soup, chicken...
All of it you simply dump everything in there and have a great meal at the end of the day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Spaghetti…boil noodles and dump in a jar of sauce.

Whole chicken or pork loin in a crock pot. You can add veggies like carrots or potatoes, set it and forget it. Cover have the poultry with water and squirt some BBQ sauce on top and you are good to go.

I looked up steaming broccoli in the microwave a month ago and it's awesome, simple and no steamer or pot to clean afterwards. Put in a bowl that has a lid, I put in 1/4 teaspoon of water or a little more for 2 servings of broccoli and microwave to 1:30 to 2 mins with the lid on. YUMMY.

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answers from New York on

Shadybrook farms turkey meatballs. Jar of sauce. pasta.
TJs makes microwaveable pasta. Ready in 3 minutes. When it first came out I laughed, and thought, who is that lame? I'm that lame.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

A can of Chunky Soup (we use "Beef with Country Vegetables" poured over either egg noodles or rice...yummy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Taco Soup-canned beans (black, pinto or red) drained, canned corn, canned tomatoes (I usally put the stewed mexican style). cooked ground beef-I have cooked it fresh or used beef left over from tacos; you will want to put some more taco seasoning in the soup. Heat all this together and top w/sour cream and cilantro if you like. You can also crumble some chips in it or eat w/warm flour tortillas. This is one of our family favorites. You can also add a can of tomatoe soup and some water depending on how you like the consistency. You can put it in the crock pot all day or make pretty quickly in a big pot right before dinner time...Enjoy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Frozen lasagna, store bought salad, store bought French bread. If you get Schwan's delivery in you area, think about that. Go to the website and see. They have wonderful meals, side dishes, breads, and sweets that you heat and eat. Do you have friends who like to cook? Ask for help from your church? There are times when we all need help. Just some ideas. Maybe they will help. And your crockpot is a great idea. Lots of easy recipes.


answers from San Francisco on

Go to Dream Dinners or Dinner My Way and pre-make a bunch of dinners. Store them in the freezer. The night before, simply move one dinner from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw. Most of the Dream Dinners (which I have used for years) are quite healthy, and since they come with easy, step-by-step directions, your husband or whoever can make them just as easily as you can.

Aside from that, I recently bought the Barefoot Contessa's new cookbook, "How Easy is That?" and love it. Most recipes just have a few ingredients, and are pretty easy to put together (and most importantly they are DELICIOUS!)



answers from Milwaukee on

Throw a roast in the crock pot. Come home and it will be done and make instant potatoes and corn with it. Gravy too. It's quick.

BLT's and soup

fry up brats & serve mac n cheese with them and pickles too



answers from Sacramento on

Several people have already mentioned it, but the crock-pot could easily become your best friend during this time of caring for your mother. Put almost any piece of meat in it and set it to be cooked by the time you will eat dinner. Microwave some potatoes, or cook up a batch of rice (20 minutes for white, 40 for brown) and add a quick salad. Buy the ready pack of mixed greens and add whatever else you want to make the salad. Or make up a fruit salad using whatever your favorite fruits are.
Another idea I like is to take ground beef or ground turkey and crumble fry it. Cut up tomatoes, lettuce and onions. Shred some cheese (or buy ready shredded). Put corn chips on a plate and let the family choose their toppings for nachos. Be sure to have some sour cream and your favorite salsa on hand to go with these too.


answers from Dallas on

We love this recipe & it's soooo easy:

Cut up chicken thighs, chicken breast, or beef (like chuck steak) into bite size pieces.

Heat oil & onion in a skillet. Add meat & brown.

Pour in barbecue sauce and orange marmalade (half & half mixture- we use stubb's barbecue sauce) and stir, simmer to heat through, and serve over rice! We use the steamable rice in the freezer, just as good as stove top cooked and SO fast!



answers from Sacramento on

Throw a jar of green salsa and about four chicken breasts in the crock pot for about 4-5 hours (or longer). Serve with tortillas, cheese, refried or black beans. These make the BEST tacos or even taco salads. This dish literally takes about 2 minutes to prep!



answers from San Francisco on

i agree with the one mom, trader joe's has so many good ideas on quick meals, and often it's cheaper then safeway! eggs, milk, butter etc is cheaper, the organic is cheaper! last week i did their microwave organic brown rice, cooks in 3 minutes, sautéed frozen shrimp with some vegies, 3 minutes, then added a jar of green curry sauce. the entire dinner took 15 minutes start to finish and everyone loved it. i take the kids portion out before adding the sauce because it's a little spicy. trader joes has a ton of ideas like this. their frozen section is great. if you're watching your sodium intake, you're going to want to make fresh meals and not frozen, but if you need super quick meals a few days a week, i recommend trader joes. once a week i will roast a chicken, it takes 5 minutes to prep and throw in the oven and then will last for a few days of meals, use leftovers for burritos, tacos, stir fry, chicken salad sandwiches etc.



answers from New York on

Shake N Bake chicken!



answers from San Francisco on

I have to second Trader Joe's. So many things you can buy there just need a little bit of cooking or heating time. I was at my friend's house yesterday, and she used their chili lime chicken burgers to make soft tacos. Just defrosted the burgers, threw them in a skillet and broke up the meat while they cooked, and then put the meat onto TJs small corn tortillas with cheese, sour cream and guac. You could also add tomato and lettuce or a side salad (from a bag). Check out TJs online recipe database. I know that one's in there.

Oh, I also vote for the Steam Fresh veggies.


answers from Kalamazoo on

Baked chicken takes some cook time, but is super easy.
Cover tray with aluminum foil, olive oil, salt and pepper the chicken.
Bake @ 375, breasts about 1.5 hours, leg quarter 1 hr 15 min, legs 1 hour.
Steamed fresh veggie is quick.
Bread and butter on the side.



answers from Columbus on

If you have a crockpot (either you or your mom, or check your local thrift store), Throw a pound of stew meat, 16 oz baby carrots, 2 or 3 potatoes chopped, and a can of diced tomatoes in the crockpot & let it go for 6-8 hours on low. You can throw in a bay leaf, or sub other meat (like sausage or kielbasa).

Whole wheat noodles (spaghtetti, or whatever), plus 1 jar of the pasta sauce that has lots of veg in it, plus some frozen meatballs from the freezer section of the grocery (simmer meatballs in the pasta sauce while the noodles are cooking).

The meatballs are also good for sandwiches--use same sauce and then toast some buns or bread, add a piece of mozzarella or provolone, and then add the meatballs (2 or 3 per bun). Serve w/ salad.

1 jar salsa, sour cream, cooked chicken (you can use the extra from the rotisserie, or buy precooked cubes or strips of unbreaded chicken), a can of fat free refried beans or black beans (drained), and some whole wheat tortillas.

Regarding your toddler, it might be worth it to buy a 2nd hand highchair or booster seat that has a seat belt. Bring some playdough/crayons/markers/fingerpaints and paper and strap the baby into the chair/booster for 10-15 minutes. That way the baby is contained while you're trying to cook.

Kraft has some good recipes that use instant rice and canned goods that take maybe 20 minutes in the skillet/on the stovetop. I buy the instant brown rice; its more expensive, but better for you. Go to www.kraft.com to find some you like.

Even if you don't have a lot of time to do meal prep, it's worth it to get a crockpot. You can throw a whole bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts into it, with a bit of water or broth, and cook it up & divide it into meal size servings, and then make whatever you need to -- it really speeds up cook time on a daily basis. Precook ground chuck by breaking it up in a pot & covering it completely with water and bringing to a simmer/low boil until no longer pink. If you have a big pot, you can cook 5# at a time, and then separate out into meal-size amounts for spaghetti, tacos, hamburger pie, poor mans stroganoff (sp?), etc.


answers from Los Angeles on

i love trader joes frozen stuff!
its somewhat healthy and super fast to make, the only thing is eating them every single day will be more expensive than making stuff from scratch once in a while. i have a recipe blog in which most of the recipes are only 30 minutes start to finish and they are usually from scratch, and always full of flavor.


oh, and croc pot meals are a LIFE SAVER!!
you just toss something in the crock pot when you get up to make breakfast, set it to low and then you have virtually nothing to do to get dinner ready!

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