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Life is busy. That might be the understatement of the year for some of you, but I know that while I was working at Dunkin’, there were definitely days where I had absolutely zero time to get dinner on the table.
Between homeschooling and errands and home stuff and reading stories and wiping faces and all the things, there just wasn’t any extra wiggle room for cooking. But people need to eat. Nobody wants to be with a hangry hippo!
If you’re in that spot where you need to get dinner on the table super fast (or you just don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen), here are some of my favorite quickest of the quick dinners.
Stovetop and Oven Meals
- Chicken Fajitas
- Sausage Spinach Skillet
- Gluten Free Mac and Cheese
- Black Bean Tortilla Pizzas
- Weeknight Tandoori Chicken
- Easy Apple Quesadillas
- Peanut Butter Veggie Stir Fry
- Chicken Fried Rice (if you happen to have cooked chicken and cooked rice, this comes together super fast, so I’m including it here, even though those two components take a little longer)
Crockpot and Instant Pot Meals
These meals are helpful if you don’t have much time to babysit something on the stove, but you still want a yummy home-cooked meal.
While the cooking times may vary, you’ll only need to spend a few minutes getting these set up, and you can do so at the time of day that works best for you. I choose a crockpot meal if I have a bit of time in the morning, and an Instant Pot meal if I have time in the afternoon. No matter when you actually get them started, I limited this list to meals that require less than 15 minutes of prep time!
- Instant Pot Chicken with Veggies and Rice
- Instant Pot Mexi Rice – pop open a can of beans (or some cooked from dry that you have in the freezer) and grab some taco-type toppings and you’ve got burrito bowls in a few minutes.
- Crockpot Orange Chicken
- Instant Pot Italian Lentil Dinner
Sandwiches/No Cook Options
I pair sandwiches with some cut up fruits and veggies and call it a day. These are super simple meals, and honestly, the whole family loves them.
- Cold Cubano Sandwiches (pictured above)
- Cranberry Mayo Turkey Melts
- Egg Salad Sandwiches
- Pasta Salad – our favorite is the Tangy Pasta Salad from this cookbook, or this Easy Italian Pasta Salad I shared on Instagram
If you’re looking for more fast and easy real food dinner options, I highly suggest getting the 100 Day of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous cookbook by Lisa Leake or Family Freezer Meals by Kelly McNelis. Both are full of recipes that come together quickly and are still really healthy and delicious. We’ve relied on those two cookbooks quite a bit over the past several months.
So there you have it. 15 dinner ideas for when you have very little time (plus a few extra!). Which one will you add to your menu plan this week?