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Quick, easy dinner ideas.

Save time by using these quick and easy recipes.

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Every mom I know needs recipes for quick, easy dinner ideas.
It doesn't matter whether you work outside your home, are a stay-at-home mom or a work-at-home mom. If you're a mom, you are busy!

Here are some of my family's favorite recipes for quick, easy dinner ideas.

(Scroll down past the meals for a list of helpful tips designed to make cooking faster and easier overall.)

1.  Chicken nuggets served with mashed sweet potatoes.
You can certainly buy frozen chicken nuggets and pop into your oven for super-convenience, but I like to make my own chicken nuggets so I can control the salt and fat content more easily. Don't worry; they are a snap to make and if you are wanting quick, easy dinner ideas, this is a smart way to cook.

My convenience splurge in the kitchen is not premade items but foods I really like so I can put recipes together faster and with more nutrition. Chicken is a great example of this. I buy only skinned, boned chicken breasts. When my recipe for a quick and easy dinner idea is chicken nuggets, here's what I do.

Grab three or four frozen chicken breasts.
  • Thaw slightly in the microwave and cut into nugget-sized pieces while partially frozen (easier to cut that way).
  • Shake chicken in a bag with a generic, purchased seasoning coating mix.
  • Pop the nuggets into the oven and they're done before I know it (be sure and cook thoroughly).

For the sweet potatoes...
  • Do a quick scrub (the kids can do this).
  • Peel and chop into one or two-inch pieces. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the quicker they'll cook.
  • Place potatoes in water, boil for 15 minutes or so.
  • Drain and mash.
  • Add butter and milk to taste. Or go for non-fat sour cream as a topping.

Sweet potatoes are very nutritious and make a nice alternative from regular potatoes. My kids love them (and I have seriously picky eaters).

This quick, easy dinner idea takes about 15 minutes to prep and another 15 minutes to cook. When I was using more convenience-type foods, it took that long anyway and the food quality was seriously lacking.

2.  Hamburger with cheese and wild rice with corn.
Think cheeseburger-with-no-bun for this recipe.
  • Brown hamburger, drain and sprinkle cheese over top to melt.
  • While hamburger is browning, make a package of wild rice mix (watch these packages, as they can be very high in sodium) and toss in some frozen or canned corn.
This is another winner at my table. 20-30 minutes from start to finish (I live in high altitude and have to cook some items longer than folks at lower altitudes.).

More quick, easy dinner ideas...

3.  Roasted veggies.

This is something my kids were sure they wouldn't like, but my teenager loves them. The eight year old isn't as convinced (it's a VEGGIE, mom!), but she had to admit they taste very different from our other veggies. See what your kids think.
  • Cut bell peppers (green, red, yellow - whatever you like), onions, and tomatoes into strips and wedges.
  • Spray with an olive oil non-stick spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning mix and broil for a few minutes. Watch them closely, they'll cook fast.
This is a great snack-type meal and it's truly quick and easy. Add some bread to complete the picture.

4.  Waffles.

Gotta love breakfast food at dinnertime. When you are collecting recipes for quick, easy dinner ideas, you can't go wrong with waffles. I make them in batches and freeze for later use. Just pop into the toaster and eat! Our favorites are banana waffles, apple waffles, and whole wheat waffles. We'll be trying the pumpkin waffles next. Oh, yes, and don't forget the cheddar cheese and bacon waffles. Yum! Here's a great waffle recipe site you can use for inspiration.

Turn your favorite recipes into quick, easy dinner ideas.

Here are some of my favorite tips for making the most out of my kitchen time. If you get into the habit of using even a handful of these ideas instead of stopping at the store on the way home from work, I think you will find you get better meals in no more time than using convenience foods. As a bonus, you might even save on your grocery bill since convenience foods are generally quite pricey. (If you need to seriously save money at the grocery store and want more of these types of cooking tips, I recommend you check out my review of a resource entitled "Saving Money on my Grocery Bill." It may be something that can really help you.
  • Many hands make light the work.
Make mealtime family time. I'll be honest; we don't sit down to a dinner table together every night. But we do regularly cook together. It's a vital skill for kids to learn and we chat about our days while we cook. All ages can participate and when we use quick, easy dinner ideas we can focus on the family time!.
  • Once a week, hold a picnic.
Use paper plates and disposable utensils. Clean-up's a breeze.
  • True convenience.
I buy only frozen, skinned, boned chicken breasts. Then I cook the whole package at once, dicing one part, slicing strips with another part (if you do your cutting when the chicken is still partially frozen it's much easier and faster.). Then I refreeze individual meal-sized portions using the diced and sliced chicken so it's ready for me to pull out of the freezer and use. Quick and easy!
  • Get into the habit of doing recipe prep work once a week.
In only about an hour (while watching your favorite taped show or cooking with a friend), you can get your meat cooked and ready to refreeze, eggs boiled, and veggies chopped (use your quick, easy dinner ideas that require chopped veggies first during the week for maximum freshness). When you do most of your prep work at one time, you only get dishes dirty once plus you go through the cooking motion once...not multiple times during the week. This really works and adds to your desired theme of quick and easy.
  • Think long-term health.
When you're considering quick, easy dinner ideas, think about healthy and easy family meals, too. Over time, wean your family off of high-fat, high-sodium products and get into the habit of only purchasing low-fat/no-fat and low salt products. We have genuinely changed the way we eat at our home; even my teenager complains about how salty 'regular' chips are now. You will save many, many calories over time and you won't even miss them. The secret is to make the change gradually. There may be some specific products that you only like in the high-fat or high-sodium variety. That's fine, because you've cut down elsewhere. Think about the long-term health of your family. Mom, you're in charge!
  • Stick to whole grains.
You'll gain fiber and taste, plus the fiber will keep tummies from rumbling as quickly. A natural appetite solution.
  • Use seasonings to make quick, easy dinner ideas.
Buy or premake seasoning mixes. You can get some great ones here.
  • Let someone else do some of the work.
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If you want more quick easy dinner recipes, here they are.

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