A go-to list for quick meal ideas, tips, and menu plans. Real food meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less!
I can be pretty selfish.
It’s actually not pretty but it’s true.
Parenting has a way of showing you how selfish you can be. Which is okay, because it totally helps me relate to my kids. This isn’t a parenting post, though. If you want one of those, look here.
Nope. This post is all about the food and how I’ve selfishly put together a list of recipes and ideas that will be my go-to list all summer long and then probably into the fall when we start up our second year of homeschool.
I put together this post because I need it. (selfish)
But I’m sharing it with you, because maybe you do too. (unselfish. there’s hope!)
The recipes are divided into groups according to how long they take to prepare. Although we all know that a ten minute recipe for nachos can end up taking forty-five when small children are involved. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Even so, the goal of each of these recipes is to be in and out of the kitchen in 30 minutes or less. Because we all know that there are better things to do in the summer than cook all day. Hello pool and river nights and whatever other fun-in-the-sun floats your boat.
Some of the recipes, like the delicious and easy almond and parmesan crusted chicken, are for just the protein portion of the meal. Meaning you have to think of side dishes to go along. If I’m feeling especially tired or crunched for time, I pull out the bag of frozen peas or corn and call it done. If I have a few more ounces of energy and if my kids are contented, then I will probably rely on an easy side dish of roasted carrots, sautéed greens, or some sort of potato.
There are also ideas for what to do with the leftovers in this post– besides just reheating them. (Can I tell you something about myself? I get an inordinate amount of pleasure when I figure out a new way to use up leftovers. It doesn’t always happen. We have plenty of leftover buffet nights where we just pull out whatever is left and divy it up. But doing thing like making leftover mashed potatoes into buttery potato cakes topped with eggs and bacon is my jam).
Aaaaand, because I thought you might like it, I included links to posts with some menu plans. At home, at the beach, in the woods… there are ideas for keeping meal times simple and frugal.
Real Food Meals in 30 Minutes or Less!
10-15 Minute Meals
Sheet Pan Nachos :: This Pilgrim Life
Five Twists on Cheesy Quesadillas :: This Pilgrim Life
10 Minute Creamy Cauliflower Pasta :: Simple Bites
15 Minute Skinny Shrimp Skampy :: Gimme Some Oven
Mexican Rice Bowls (made with beans or precooked chicken) :: This Pilgrim Life
Garlic Butter Orzo with Chicken & Spinach (with precooked chicken) :: This Pilgrim Life
20 Minute Meals
Simple Pasta Salad with Ham/Bacon, Peas, & Cherry Tomatoes :: The Humbled Homemaker & This Pilgrim Life
Spinach & Bacon Alfredo Pizza :: This Pilgrim Life
Pan Seared Curried Cod :: Intentional By Grace
Fettuccine with Sausage & Blistered Tomatoes :: This Pilgrim Life
Three Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Breadsticks :: This Pilgrim Life
Simple Pan-fried Pork Chops and easy sides :: The Pioneer Woman
Chicken Fajitas (freezer meal) :: This Perfect Mess
Healthy Grilled Sweet Potato Nachos :: Pinch of Yum
Best Salmon Patties (grain free & dairy free) :: Red and Honey
Ground Beef, Black Bean & Cheddar Taquitos :: For the Love of Cooking
30 Minute Meals
30 Minute Fried Rice :: This Pilgrim Life
Our Favorite Sliders (this one may be a little longer than 30 minutes, depending on what sides you choose, but it’s worth it!) :: This Pilgrim Life
Soft Tacos with Fresh Avocado and Tomato Salsa :: The Humbled Homemaker & This Pilgrim Life
30 Minute Chicken Parmesan :: This Pilgrim Life
Flank Steak Two Ways :: This Perfect Mess
Spinach Artichoke Pasta :: The Pioneer Woman
Almond & Parmesan Crusted Chicken :: This Pilgrim Life
30 Minute Tortellini with Shrimp & Bacon :: This Pilgrim Life
Mushroom Risotto with Roasted Brussel Sprouts :: This Pilgrim Life
Getting Creative with Leftovers
Leftover food is convenient and easy, but sometimes you want something different– especially if you have enough leftovers that you have had the same meal three days in a row.
Learning to get creative with leftovers is one of the best skills you can develop to save money and waste less food. Here are some quick meal ideas to transform any leftovers into a new delicious meal.
>>Stuff it in a pita. Last week we had Copycat Zoe’s Kitchen for dinner, and then used the leftover salad and grilled chicken and veggies as filling for pita pockets at the pool. Everything got mixed together and drizzled with a little more Greek dressing before being stuffed in pitas.
Leftover proteins, leftover or fresh vegetables, lettuce or rice, a little cheese– whatever you have on hand can be made into a great pita filling. Use a simple salad dressing or plain yogurt as a dressing to bind it all together.
>>Make a pizza. We have pizza regularly here because it is SO easy to change up. You can use leftover marinara as a traditional sauce, or get creative and use pesto, ranch, Greek dressing, a simple Alfredo, and more as a quick sauce. Top that with a little cheese (or in our case, a heap of cheese) and leftovers out of the fridge.
And don’t forget this incredibly easy homemade pizza dough. Three ingredients and no required rising time!
>>Whip up an omelet. Eggs, milk, salt and pepper, maybe some cheese, and a handful of toppings are all you need for a filling and tasty omelet. Make it with an Italian flair, or maybe a Tex-mex style. Try a pizza omelet or a Greek one. Use up all those cooked veggies for a healthy garden omelet!
Be willing to try something new! Here are 10 ideas for fillings to get you started.
>>Toss it with some pasta. Keep a couple boxes of pasta on hand for a throw-together pasta salad made with leftovers. Our favorites for pasta salads are orzo and rotini, but most any small pasta will work.
Keep some pantry staples on hand to round out your pasta salad. Olives, nuts, dried cranberries, cheese, and chopped spinach often make appearances in our pasta salads.
>>Plan ahead to have extra. Go ahead and make extra of an ingredient or two when you are cooking dinner since you know you can repurpose it in a night or two. Extra rice, potatoes, meat, sautéed/grilled/roasted vegetables, and more are easy to double and reserve for future meals.
Check out these meal plans to make things even easier!
The first two meal plans are great for busy weeknights at home, the next two are helpful on vacation when you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen or overspending on restaurant food for every meal. Then, if you like to camp, check out the meal plan to get you set for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the woods!