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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Top 5 Quick-Prep Dinners

We all have them: those dinner ideas that we turn to when we realize that we need to have dinner on the table in half an hour and we have nothing planned.

On these occasions, I try not to resort to tuna sandwiches, soup from a can, or scrambled eggs. To make that easier, I keep a mental list of dinner ideas that I can make in virtually no time and with no special ingredients.

5) As you may have guessed from the photo, one of my go-to dinner menus is pancakes. I generally have milk, eggs, and flour on hand, so this doesn't require any special ingredients. We add sliced bananas, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, jelly, or whatever toppings we happen to have.

4) A quick homemade pizza can be ready in half an hour. I keep shredded mozzarella and a small container of pizza sauce in the freezer at all times. While the cheese and sauce are thawing on the counter and the oven is preheating, I make dough, using a stand mixer. Assemble the pizza, add your toppings, bake for 12 minutes at 425 degrees, and you're all set.

3) I make a point of always keeping frozen ravioli and a jar of spaghetti sauce on hand. It's not the most elegant meal, but it's easy and hearty.

2) We nearly always have cheese (mild cheddar or Monterey Jack) and either tortilla chips or flour tortillas. With these on hand, it's quick and easy to make nachos or quesadillas. The additions are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your kitchen: salsa, cooked beans, shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeno peppers.

1) When I discovered pasta with garlic and olive oil, I thought I'd stumbled upon one of the best-kept secrets in the culinary world. (This was in the pre-Internet era, long before,, and blogs. We got our recipes from friends, family, and books!) It's quick, easy, inexpensive, and delicious, and it uses only ingredients from the pantry. Of course, it turned out to be a classic pasta dish, but that doesn't make it any less perfect. I use only four ingredients: dried pasta, olive oil (preferably EVOO), fresh garlic, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper. For a lighter sauce, use some chicken broth and less olive oil. The dish can be varied with crushed red pepper flakes, broccoli (add to the boiling water, a few minutes before the pasta is done), sauteed chicken, pine nuts, or walnuts.

These five quick-prep dinners are less expensive, more healthy, and almost as easy as fast food. That works for me and my family! For more Works For Me Wednesday, visit

If you're a crafter, check out my giveaway. I hope you're as excited about it as I am!

An edited version of this article has been published at Associated Content.


  1. thanks for the giveaway information and oh what great quick meals

  2. These are great! Thanks for sharing. :)


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