Five super-easy dinner ideas for busy families

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Some days are too busy for even a 30-minute meal; having some super-easy meal ideas in your weekly plan is key to keeping your family away from the trap of dashboard dining.

Do you have finicky eaters in the family? Involving them in the planning, shopping and easy meal prep may help improve your success in getting them to eat and try new foods. Planning the week doesn’t have to be complicated; keep a running list of dishes that everyone agrees on and talk about new ideas as a family. Try these five super-easy dinner ideas from your Hy-Vee dietitians:

Veggie & Cheese Quesadillas (serves 4)

Total time: 18 minutes

All you need are 4 large flour tortillas, 1 1/3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 tsp. minced garlic, ¼ cup tomato paste, 2 cups mixed greens and 1 cup of your favorite chopped veggies. Spread tomato paste mixed with minced garlic on top of 2 large tortillas. Sprinkle on 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, ½ cup veggies, ½ cup greens, then top with another large tortilla. Heat in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, flipping halfway through until each side is golden brown. Divide the quesadilla in half to serve two people. Repeat the steps above to serve four people. Round out your meal with some fresh fruit and a glass of milk.

Chicken Burrito Bowls (serves 4)

Total time: 23 minutes

Start by preheating your grill to 400 F. Grill ¾ lb. chicken breasts, flipping halfway through to ensure even cooking on both sides and internal temperature of 165 F. While the chicken is cooking, cook 1-cup Minute® Instant brown rice. Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of black beans and add them to a pot with ½ cup water; heat over medium heat until they begin to simmer, about 7 minutes. To prepare the burrito bowls, place ½ cup of cooked rice in each bowl. Top with ¼ cup black beans, 3 ounces diced grilled chicken and desired toppings such as 2 tablespoons of salsa, guacamole and shredded cheese. Tip: For an even quicker meal, use shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken.

Open-faced Tuna Melt (serves 4)

Total time: 12 minutes

Preheat the oven to broil (high). Make a tuna salad by combining 2 cans of drained tuna with ½ cup of mayo. Divide the tuna salad among 4 slices of hearty whole grain bread, spreading it evenly and to the edges. Then, top each open sandwich with a slice of Colby Jack cheese. Place the open-faced sandwiches on a baking sheet and put the pan in the oven on the second-from-the-top shelf. Broil for about 5 minutes with the oven door cracked open a couple of inches. Watch it closely after 5 minutes and remove from the oven when cheese is melted and light brown. Toss together a side salad with your favorite dressing for your veggie option.

Panzanella Salad with (or without) Chicken (serves 4)

Total time: 15 minutes

Using the convenience of canned garbanzo beans and sliced olives, this quick, plant-based meal comes together in minutes. In a large bowl, combine 1 pint of fresh cherry tomatoes, 1 diced cucumber, a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, rinsed, an 8-ounce can of sliced black olives, 1 bunch of green onions, diced, 2 cups of already prepared croutons and 1/3 cup of balsamic, Italian or oil-based salad dressing. To add more protein, dice 2 cups of rotisserie chicken and add to the vegetable mix. Fold all ingredients together and serve.

Lentil Pasta with Marinara Sauce & Spinach (serves 4)

Total time: 22 minutes

Cook a box of lentil pasta according to the directions on the box and drain. Return the pasta back to the pot and heat on low. Add a jar of marinara sauce and a couple handfuls of raw spinach to the past and fold ingredients together until heated through. Serve with a fresh slice of a Hy-Vee bakery baguette.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.o