Quick and Easy Back To School Dinners

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

So the kids are back at school, extra curricular activities are starting up again and time in the evening is at a premium. Dinner is just one more thing you need to find time for. Sometimes you may be super organised and have planned and prepared in advance. Other nights, not so much. What’s your solution on those nights when you’re pushed for time and short on ingredients?

Do you grab a quick takeaway knowing that it’s not necessarily the best option financially or health wise?

Do you pour them a bowl of cereal?

Or do you have a list of quick, easy, relatively healthy and budget friendly options that you can quickly turn to, to ensure the kids are fed and in bed as soon as possible?

And I’m not talking about the kind of quick and easy meals you find when you ask google which usually involve a ton of ingredients and half an hour to prepare. I’m talking absolute basic, quick and easy, minimal ingredients “I’m doing ok cause at least my kids ate something tonight even though it wasn’t fancy” meals.

Here are some suggestions for those crazy busy nights, or those I can’t parent any more nights or whenever else you need.

As much as possible they incorporate ingredients which are either non-perishable, freezable or staples you hopefully have on hand already.

Eggs:

Scrambled Eggs: whisk together eggs (1-2 per person), milk (or cream) and butter. Throw in a pan and mix gently until solid. Alternatively you can place in a microwave safe container (the Tupperware 1L microwave jug is good for this and easy to clean) and heat for approx. 1 minute. Stir and continue heating in 15sec-30 second intervals until solid.

Serve with toast if desired for extra bulk.

Omlette: Start with the same mix as for scrambled eggs. Add whatever else you can find in the fridge or freezer – this is also a great way to use up little bits and pieces which are close to their useby date. Think:

Quick and Easy Meals - Eggs - Omelette

Quick and Easy Meals – Omelette

– deli meats, cooked chicken, bacon

– Frozen vegetables (microwave first)

– Chopped broccoli, capsicum, onion, eggplant,

– Fresh/Frozen herbs like thyme, parsley etc.

– Grated cheese (you can keep this in the freezer)

and throw in a saucepan or frypan. Cook without stirring until mostly firm and gently fold in half. If this fails, Mix it all together and call it fancy scrambled eggs.

Serve with toast if desired for extra bulk.

Dippy Eggs (or soft boiled eggs): 1 – 2 eggs per person. You can always over cater and if they don’t eat them all, just chuck the extras back in boiling water a little longer to make them hard boiled eggs for lunch boxes or snacks during the day.

Google how long to boil them for because who can ever actually remember exactly how long you’re supposed to boil them for to keep them soft. For the record it’s 5-7 minutes after the water starts boiling (and yes, I just googled that).

Serve with toast cut into “soldiers” for them to dip.

Toast

You could just serve them toast and that’s totally cool, but if you want to fancy it up a little, here’s a few ideas. Also, don’t make the same mistake I did the first time I attempted this and not toast the bread first. I know this will be obvious to a few of you but just in case:

Toast bread first, add toppings (with the cheese on top) place under grill until cheese melts. For an even easier clean up, line the grill with alfoil first.

– Cheese on toast,

Quick and Easy Meals - Toasted Sandwich

Quick and Easy Meals – Toasted Sandwich

– Cheese and vegemite on toast (probably will only work if you’re an Aussie!)

– Cheese and tomato paste/pasta sauce on toast.

– Ham and cheese on toast add tomato as well if desired

– Cheese and avocado on toast

– Ham, cheese and pineapple on toast (use tomato paste/pasta sauce as a base if you like and it’s like a mini pizza)

– Grilled peanut butter and mashed banana on toast

You can also put an extra slice on top of any of these or roll them up in a wrap and pop them in a sandwich grill for a toasted sandwich or wrap.

Tinned Food

Totally an acceptable meal and they keep in the pantry for ages so just make sure you always have a few on hand for a super easy meal.

Some suggestions include:

– Baked Beans/tinned spaghetti

– Soup

– Flavored Tuna/chicken serve over rice (you can use microwavable sachets for a super quick option). Microwave some frozen vegetables and add them too for bonus points.

Pasta

There are lots of things you can do to fancy the pasta up a bit, but you can always start with pasta, mixed with a little butter, maybe topped with grated cheese. Then consider adding some or all of the following (depending on time, taste and ingredients available):

Quick and Easy Meals - Pasta

Quick and Easy Meals – Pasta

– Pasta or pesto sauce

– Frozen vegetables (microwave first)

– deli meats, cooked chicken, bacon, tinned tuna

– Chopped broccoli, capsicum, onion, eggplant whatever other vegetables in the fridge look sad.

Place pasta in salted, boiling water and cook until soft-ish. The packet will usually recommend a time but I still like to fish a piece out and check once it’s cooled down a little.

Serve as is, or place in an oven safe dish, cover with grated cheese and pop it in the oven until cheese is melted and bubbling. This option needs you to have some form of pasta  or pasta bake sauce or tinned tomatoes, otherwise it will dry out too much. It does give you a little time to get the kids bathed if required, while it cooks.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

When I prepare chicken for family meals, I often remove the tender loin and maybe some extra bits of meat. I will either freeze them as is, or crumb them then freeze for some quick and healthy chicken nuggets.

The trick here is to ​lay them on baking paper and freeze them individually so they don’t stick and clump together. Once they’re frozen you can put them in a container or snapback bag.

Serve these with some frozen vegetables and/or chips.​

Pizzas

Quick and Easy Meals - Pizza

Quick and Easy Meals – Pizza

Make a quick and easy pizza by using a pre-prepared base or flat bread. Use tomato paste or pasta sauce as the base, put on some favourite toppings and cheese and bake in the oven.

Bonus tip: when you have left over tomato paste or pasta sauce, pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, then once frozen, store the cubes in a container or snap lock bag. Then you can quickly defrost only a small amount as you need it. Pre-grated cheese will also store in the freezer until you need it.

The important thing to remember is, no matter what you’re feeding your kids (well, almost no matter what, beer and wine are probably out) they will be fine and you’re doing a great job. They do not need meat and 3 veg every night. They need you to be as happy and healthy as possible and that means looking after yourself too.

​Comment below what your go to quick and easy meal is and help out a fellow parent!

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