I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. I love providing my family with nutritious, delicious meals, taking charge of our health and diet, and saving money on dining out. That said, my hatred for thinking about, making, and cleaning up those meals near trumps the things I love. Dinner is a daily struggle at the Cleveland household.
If you’re like me and cooking is more of a necessary evil than a source of relaxation, I hope these 3 fast, tasty meals will make your life a bit easier. Every one of these meals can be prepared, cooked, and on your table in under 25 minutes. They also don’t require a ton of time over the stove or otherwise futzing around in the kitchen, freeing you up to be with your kids, help with homework, turn over a load of laundry, or yes, even take a quick break!
I’m going to kick this off by saying, DO NOT skip the sauce. Just don’t do it. The sauce makes this dish. You could even prepare the sauce on its own and pair it with tortilla chips, or probably a hundred other things if you actually like cooking and know how to pair flavors (I do not). In other words, if you skip the sauce you might as well not make this meal.
This recipe comes from Cooking Classy and literally goes from pantry to stomach in less than 20 minutes:
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 c salsa
- 1 ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ medium avocado
- ½ c greek yogurt
- 1 c fresh cilantro
- 1 T lime juice
- 1 clove garlic
- lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, or other desired taco toppings
- In a medium saucepan, combine black beans, salsa, chili powder and cumin. Simmer mixture for about 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slightly mash beans if desired.
- Meanwhile in a food processor, pulse together avocado, Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic until cilantro is finely minced. Season with salt and pepper to taste (slowly add water for thinner sauce if desired). I don’t have a food processor so just mash the heck out of the ingredients and that works just fine, too!
- To assemble tacos, on each tortilla layer black bean mixture, avocado cilantro lime crema, and toppings of choice. Serve immediately.
What I love about this meal is that it’s completely customizable. My kiddos are still fairly picky eaters, so I prepare about two-thirds of the crust as directed below and put pizza sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings my kids will eat (sometimes pepperoni or sausage, or shockingly an occasional bell pepper) on the remaining third.
The fact that I can modify the recipe on my own shows you just how quick and easy this recipe from Naturally Ella is. And this one can be ready in about 20 minutes, too, with plenty of time to sit and rest while the flatbread bakes!
- ⅓ c grape tomatoes, halved
- ¼ c kalamata olives, halved
- ¼ c marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- ¼ c roasted red peppers, chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 2 tsp fresh parsley
- 1 T olive oil
- ½ oz feta
- ½ ball pre-made pizza dough, or prepared pizza crust (we like this one from Boboli)
- Preheat oven to 450° and roll out the dough/place the crust on an oiled or parchment-covered baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers, garlic, lime, and parsley. Toss until well combined. (Hack: sometimes I prep these ingredients the night before, which makes this meal even faster to cook and therefore a great option for super busy nights.)
- Rub dough/crust with olive oil and sprinkle veggie mixture evenly over the dough/crust. Sprinkle feta evenly on top as desired.
- Bake 12 – 15 minutes or until crust is crisp. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Pinch of Yum provides some of our family’s very favorite recipes, and this 15 minute lo-mein is no exception. Literally everyone in our house eats and enjoys this meal, and it’s super easy to make and can be totally loaded with good-for-you veggies.
- 2 T dark soy sauce
- 1 T light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4-6 oz uncooked ramen noodles
- 1 T sesame oil
- 3 green onions, chopped, whites and greens separated
- 2-3 c julienned or chopped veggies; try carrots, broccoli, red peppers, cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, or whatever veggies your family enjoys (Hack: buy pre-cut veggies to cut down your prep time)
- 1-2 T mirin
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients in a jar or bowl; set aside.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large wok or skillet; add the green onions (white parts) and vegetables. Stir fry until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add mirin and loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cooked noodles and about half of the sauce; toss to combine. Add more sauce until desired coating (aim for medium-brown noodles). Serve topped with remaining green onions. (Another hack: plain ramen noodles can be set aside for particularly picky eaters. I have yet to meet someone who won’t eat a plain ramen noodle.)
I’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these meals! If so, comment below, and I hope you enjoy!