So far this school year has been a whirlwind. There has been so much going on. I feel like from the time I wake up until the time I lay down again at night, I’m busy with something! Many families are probably in the same position, especially this time of year. Even in the crazy weeks, I like to sit down as a family for dinner. This has been especially important to me as our kids get older. We don’t often eat breakfast or lunch as a family, so the final meal of the day is where we can come together and spend some time. It’s not even about the food. It is about being together. It’s about sharing your day with people that care about you. As we sit down, we pray, talk, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong, it is usually not calm and peaceful at the dinner table with two little ones. However, it’s one of my favorite times of the day because we can be together!
But what do you cook on those crazy nights? Maybe you only have 15 minutes to throw something together. I’ve created a list of 8 last minute dinner ideas that can be put together quickly with little to no prep. My family typically eats at least one or two meals from this list a week. And that’s just fine by me!
Um… this should be a last minute AND a regular planned dinner. Who doesn’t love taco night? These are so versatile that you can grab anything you have in your pantry, freezer or kitchen to a tortilla, roll it up and you’re done. Make it a taco bar so kids can choose what toppings to put in. Chicken, beef, fish, just veggies… it’s all good. Cheese, lettuce, and salsa with a little dollop of sour cream finishes it off. Put out a bag of tortilla chips and everyone is happy.
Super similar to taco night, quesadillas are a great anytime meal. My husband is the master quesadilla maker. He has been known to put anything and everything inside. Once, we had leftover Thanksgiving quesadillas, turkey and mashed potatoes included. All you need are some tortillas and cheese. Anything else is a bonus!
3. Grilled Cheese
This is a staple at our house during the week. Often, my husband is gone at least one dinner a week. Rather than cooking a full meal for my two year old and myself, I typically prepare a few grilled cheese sandwiches. Easy and yummy. You can turn a regular grilled cheese into something gourmet by adding a few simple ingredients. Sliced Granny Smith apple with cheddar, adding hummus, or even making it with mozzarella with some pizza sauce! The options are endless. Add some soup (canned or homemade) and it is a delicious meal for a chilly or rainy day.
4. Breakfast for Dinner
I am actually not a huge fan of having breakfast for dinner. I’m not really a huge fan of big breakfasts for breakfast either. But, my family loves it and I know many people love breakfast all day any day. Pancakes, waffles and french toast are classics. There are so many varieties of these that you can do. Add fruit, make it savory, add eggs or sausage to make a complete meal. You can even put your jammies on early and have breakfast for dinner the right way.
5. Salad with Chicken
I try to make a big salad to have with dinner early in the week, that way, it is available for dinners the next few days. However, in a pinch, add more to the salad, throw in some protein like cooked chicken breast (I’ve even thrown in cut up chicken nuggets… don’t judge) and boom! Delicious and healthy! If you have dinner rolls on hand, put them in the oven and have warm, bread ready to go in a few minutes.
Oh man. Can you ever go wrong with pizza? This is a weekend must. And it doesn’t have to be take out! Our freezer is always stocked with a couple frozen pizzas. I also like to make homemade crusts ahead of time using this recipe from Momsbyheart. You can freeze these crusts and pull them out whenever you need to whip up a delicious pizza. Sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings you like (and have in the house) make these easy to personalize. If you don’t want to make your own crusts, you can buy pre-made crusts, or use something a little more unconventional. We’ve made the pizzas on tortillas, bagels, English muffins, you could even put it on bread and make pizza grilled cheese!
Always a classic. With meat sauce, without meat sauce, whatever you choose, it is a win. And I’m not talking about making your own sauce from scratch type of spaghetti. Boil the noodles, heat up the sauce from a jar, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and there you go. Use some of the salad you made from the previous night to go with it. Butter some slices of bread (anything you have on hand), sprinkle garlic powder on top and put it in the oven for a few minutes on broil, and you also have toasty garlic bread.
8. Baked Potato Bar
This is another recipe that you can work with what you have in the pantry and freezer. Bake the potatoes (or you can microwave them in a pinch) and set out several possible toppings. Butter and mayo, broccoli and cheese, chives, salsa, sour cream, bacon…. Endless options! Add a side salad if you feel the need for more greens.