Are you one of those people who work 60 hours a week? Do you have a family or wish you could make a nice dinner in a flash? Well, guess what? How about dinner in 5 minutes? Does this seem too good to be true? Well, it is not. With the right equipment, a good strategy, and the right ingredients, you too can make dinner in 5 minutes flat!
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Quick dinner ideas for two
Making a quick dinner requires good preparation. Equipment is very important to get the job done quickly and effectively. Primarily, you will need a microwave, sharp knives, scissors, quality pots and pans with lids, and hot/cold water that is easily attainable. If you have a water service like Alhambra, they provide a unit you can get with a cold and hot water dispenser. Those come in very handy. If not, a simple plug-in kettle that will boil water will do fine. And if you have a fridge with a cold water and ice dispenser, that works out good too.
A good strategy is one that involves thinking of what to make for dinner beforehand, having all the items required to prepare the food, and how to serve it. For example, say you wanted to make spaghetti with meatballs. If you had a package of pre-cooked frozen meatballs, and a buttered and seasoned baguette, then you could just make the spaghetti pasta, toast the bread and microwave the meatballs. Then, serve it all on a nice dish. You would not believe how fast you could do this with your equipment and preparation.
And finally, there are the ingredients. This is the most important part to cooking very quickly. The right ingredients are usually pre-packaged (but fresh). This could be like frozen pre-cooked meatballs or any type of meat, pre-chopped frozen onions or veggies, and canned goods. Whatever it is, it is pre-made somehow but frozen so that it will be freshly heated, or re-heated to taste like it took forever to make.
And there you have it. You just learned how to make dinner in a flash, or better yet 5 minutes. What do you think now about having enough time to make dinner? It is not as difficult as it seems. It just takes the right way to go about it. Quality equipment, a good strategy, and the right ingredients are the main keys to preparing dinner in 5 minutes FLAT! Anyone can do it, if they take the time and do it the right way.
dinner ideas for two or more, quick rundown on how to start!
Draw up a weeknight dinner planner
Grab a piece of paper and draw up a Weeknight Dinner Menu with days of the week at the top. Next label a column on the left with Week 1, Week 2 and so on. You can add as many weeks as you like.
Next you will need to work out what dinner theme you would like for each day of the week. This will help to keep meals interesting and you will love the variety!
Your week may look like this:
- MONDAY – Chicken
- TUESDAY – Vegetarian
- WEDNESDAY – Seafood
- THURSDAY – Red Meat
- FRIDAY – Quick Kids Favorite / Vegetarian
Nothing has people reaching for the take-out menu faster than a lack of planning. If you’ve been trying to plan dinner after 5 pm, odds are that you give up on cooking most days. Make sure to plan at least five meals each week and have the ingredients on hand. If you have enough food to make several different types of meals, you’ll be less likely to eat out.
Each morning, decide what you’ll make for dinner that night. At this time, you may decide to put any meat that needs to defrost in the refrigerator, and double check that you have all of the ingredients. Review the recipe and figure out when you’ll need to start making dinner in order to have it done on time.
Come up with a system for dinner recipes.
Quick dinners are easy when you have a system to follow. Keep your dinners to an easy formula of protein plus carbohydrate plus vegetable and you’ll be able to make dinner quickly. This formula can cover a wide range of possibilities – baked chicken with cheesy noodles and broccoli, grilled steak with peppers and onions served with tortillas, sautéed ground beef with Asian vegetables served over rice. The possibilities are endless!
Cook some ingredients ahead of time.
Ground beef can be used in many different recipes, from spaghetti to tacos. It takes just as much time to brown two pounds of beef as it does to brown a half a pound. On a weekend, brown and freeze several pounds of ground beef or ground turkey. This way, the next time you cook a recipe that calls for ground beef you’ll just have to reheat it. You can do the same thing with chicken pieces.
How to get your quick dinner ideas
family eats a lot of fresh vegetables, so my biggest lifesaver is to use “almost there” prepared foods.
There’s no shame in using prewashed produce. Bags of prewashed lettuce are wonderful gifts to the busy mama, especially if it means the difference between your family actually eating a salad and skipping the salad because it takes too long to wash and prepare all the veggies. Same goes with those bags of broccoli, carrots, celery, and sugar snap peas.
Here’s a quick and easy variation on a traditional tossed salad and it takes only a few minutes to assemble. Start with pre-washed baby spinach, toss in some dried cranberries and toasted walnuts and serve with a light raspberry vinaigrette. Yum.
Many supermarkets also have bread in the bakery that is nearly baked all the way you through. You take it home and pop it in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes and out comes delicious, crusty, warm bread. This is such a treat in my family!
Make an extra-large pot of chili (or chicken noodle soup) on the weekend and freeze or refrigerate the leftovers.
Pop some cornbread in the oven (a quick mix takes less than 20 minutes to bake) and serve with a green salad.
The slow cooker is your friend.
Share favorite crock pot recipes with your friends. The best recipes are those, such as roast beef and potatoes and veggies, where there is no cooking before or after. In the morning, you toss in all the ingredients. In the evening, you come home, open the slow cooker and eat up. These are the only slow cooker recipes I ever really make, to be honest.
Serve healthy pizza.
Pizza doesn’t have to be greasy and oozing with sauce. Have a couple of premade pizza doughs (such as Boboli) on hand and experiment with healthy toppings that cater to your family’s individual tastes. We love to have Mexican Pizza, for example, layered with refried or black beans, then salsa, onions, olives and a bit of cheese. It cooks in less than 10 minutes. Another idea we use a lot: purchase a plain frozen cheese pizza and let the kids pile on their own healthy toppings.
As fun to eat as it is to say. In my family, we love Italian sausage in our spaghetti, but we’re also very health conscious, so we never use very much of the sausage in any one meal. I’ll cook all the Italian sausage in a package, then divide it into 4 portions and freeze them. Then, when it’s spaghetti night, I defrost the meat, which then simmers with sautéed onions and the spaghetti sauce – and dinner is done in the time it takes the noodles to cook. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.
On a side note, the clear glass jars that the spaghetti comes in also make excellent glasses for lemonade and water in the summertime. We keep a few in the freezer for chilled water and lemonade. (Okay, also, cold beer.) Classico-brand jars are particularly well-suited for this. They are a little squarish and quite elegant. The smaller jars, such as the alfredo jars, are just the right size for smaller hands.
Sandwich night. (how to make a healthy sandwich)
Whole wheat bread
Whole grain products have several advantages over processed white foods. On the one hand, they fill you much quicker and for longer because they are high in fiber. That means, especially if you eat slowly, you are very unlikely to eat too much, and you won’t get hungry again quickly.
You can use whole wheat bread, rolls, toast alternating to get more variety. Maybe there are even different types of whole wheat bread available.
Low calorie spreads and toppings
What would a sandwich be without ham or cheese? That’s okay. But choose lean ham and low fat cheese so that your sandwich stays healthy instead of becoming a calorie bomb. Prefer fat reduced margarine to butter and buy low calorie spreads. Low fat cottage cheese makes great spreads when you mix it with some spices. But no matter what you use, don’t put too much of it on as this will add up calories.
Cooked or grilled meat that you still got in your fridge also makes great toppings for sandwiches. For example, slices of grilled chicken breast, or the rest of your meat loaf. I also love to put shredded tuna on (canned in water, not oil!). Salmon slices are a bit pricy but taste delicious on a whole wheat roll topped with sliced onions and sprinkled with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Low calorie sauces and dressings
Sauces and dressings do a great job in making your sandwich special. Choose fat reduced mayonnaise and try to avoid ready-made sauces since many of them contain quite a bit of sugar. If you do want tomato sauce on, apply only a thin layer.
Alternately, you can make your own healthy sauces and dressings at home, for example a salsa from canned tomatoes, onion and green pepper.
Salad, vegetables, legumes or fruit
Don’t forget to put some really healthy stuff on your sandwich! Salad leaves are great and quick. If you have cooked or grilled vegetables at hand, mash them and use them as a spread on your meat sandwich. Or slice them. Homemade salsa or baked bean salad is also a good option. Sliced onions taste great on sandwiches. And if you like it sweet, why not adding slices of fruit? Or pineapple rings or peach halves?
By including a big portion of these foods, you make sure that you got low calorie toppings with plenty of vitamins and minerals. This will contribute greatly to make your sandwich a healthy and filling meal.
If it comes to preparing the sandwich, you got plenty of possibilities to make it exciting. You can make a burger, grill any kind of sandwich in the oven, use rolls today and toast tomorrow… You can even make a buffet: Just put everything on the table and allow people to make their own sandwiches. Much less work for you and much more time you can socialize with your family.
- Some days, choose healthy fast food.
This phrase used to be somewhat of an oxymoron, but nowadays, new chains are popping up nationwide that offer fresh, healthy, locally-sourced fare. From soup to pasta to burritos, you can find something that suits everyone’s tastes. It’s probably not something you want to do every night, but your fast food choices are now much broader than the old hamburgers and French fries.
Find a few FAVOURITES from your local gourmet store.
While this might be an expensive choice for everyday life, it sure can be a lifesaver. Stock your freezer with a few Harry & David chicken pies, for example, and the next time you have surprise guests during one of your busy nights, you’ll look like the rock star you are.
Save time with frozen vegetables.
Everyone needs more vegetables and serving frozen vegetables are an easy way to get more into your family’s diet. Keep a wide variety of frozen vegetables on hand. You can change the flavor with spices, margarine mixed with lemon juice or even Italian dressing. A few minutes in the microwave or on the stovetop with a vegetable steamer and you’ll have vegetables for your meal.
Thaw the frozen pizza dough and put together some pantry staples and leftovers to create a delicious and healthy dinner. Simply preheat the oven to 450°F. Roll the dough out into the desired shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Prick the pizza dough in several places with a fork. Brush with extra virgin olive oil. Smooth a layer of tomato paste, tomato sauce or tomato puree. Top with minced garlic, chopped leftover cooked meat and whatever vegetables you have on hand, such as mushrooms and bell peppers. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with mozzarella cheese. If you don’t have mozzarella, shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheese will work, too. Return to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.
You can use either pizza or bread dough to make focaccia. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll the dough into a rectangle on a cookie sheet. Press with fingertips to make dents. In a skillet, sauté together some extra virgin olive oil, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Spread all over the focaccia. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, coarse sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, or whatever cheese you have. Return to the oven and bake for another 8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cut into squares before serving.