Being a parent is tough. We making so many important decisions, serve as positive role models, take care of our children’s needs…it’s exhausting! And when I am struggling through one of those loooong weeks, the last thing I want to do is cook. That’s why I rely on my favorite and reliable list of easy prep meals that everyone will eat…including my picky toddler!
So instead of spending tons of money on take out, I have compiled a quick list of amazingly easy meals that take less than 15 minutes of prep work that I use on days when I am burned out. If I were you, I would save this post for those days when you are just exhausted, recovering from being “over served,” and the thought of cooking dinner has you reaching for a glass of wine.
EASY PREP MEAL #1: ROASTED CHICKEN
I absolutely love this deceptive dish, because it looks like you went to so much work but you definitely didn’t. Simply pick up a whole roast chicken, give it a quick rinse, and take out any inside parts that you don’t want to cook. The cut up a lemon, some garlic, and some herbs and stuff it into the chicken. Then cut up a handful of carrots, potatoes, and onions to leave in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add a few splashes of chicken broth to the pan, as well as salt and pepper….maybe even a splash or two of your favorite white wine as well. Place chicken on top of the vegetables, coat the outside of the chicken with butter, salt, and pepper. Place in a 425 degree oven for at least an hour, checking intermittently. Move around the veggies every 20 minutes or so, and add butter or olive oil to the chicken skin if you think it needs it. Cooking times vary, but my bird is usually done after 90 minutes. Tent with foil and let rest for ten minutes, then dig in and enjoy!
EASY PREP MEAL #2: AGLIO E OLIO
Just looking at the name of the dish, I’m sure you are expecting something fancy. But this is seriously the easiest pasta dish I have ever made. I saw Ina Garten cooking it once and telling us salivating viewers that it was a favorite dish of chefs to make after a long night cooking in a restaurant. Ready for some amazingness? Simply cook your favorite long pasta (angel hair, spaghetti, linguini) to al dente, which usually takes about 10 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, sauté some garlic in olive oil with salt and pepper to make a light sauce, careful not to brown the garlic. Once you drain the pasta, put it back in the hot pan and shave fresh parmesan and drizzle fresh olive oil all over the pasta, stirring occasionally. Then coat the pasta in the garlic/olive oil sauce. I like to spice it up a bit by adding some halved cherry or grape tomatoes. And guess what? Your pasta is done. Enjoy!
EASY PREP MEAL #3: FRITTATA
Eggs are my secret weapon. Seriously. Because as long as I have eggs, I can rummage around in my fridge and find enough ingredients to make a simple and healthy dish. My basic frittata recipe is five whisked eggs with a splash of milk and a nice seasoning of salt and pepper. As for the other ingredients, the possibilities are endless! My favorite things to include are onions, bacon (pre-cooked), tomatoes, and cheddar cheese, but you can really put ANY vegetable that your little heart desires into your frittata. Just be mindful of the size of the veggie when you cut it up, for it will affect its cooking time. For example, diced potatoes will need to be pre-cooked (maybe in the fat of your leftover bacon grease?). Once you have decided on your ingredients, add the eggs and veggies into a well oiled frying pan (be sure that it is an oven safe one). Cook eggs on the stove top for about 5-7 minutes, and then pop under the broiler in the oven for about three minutes to get a nice crust on the top. Let the frittata firm up for a minute or two and serve warm. I like to add a side salad to complete the meal.
EASY PREP MEAL #4: GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE
Who said that grilled cheese is just for toddlers? Definitely not me. A gourmet grilled cheese is one of my reliable standbys on busy weeknights, and when paired with some fresh fruit or small salad, it is a perfect meal. To make it “gourmet,” I use more elevated ingredients: Whole grain rustic or sourdough bread (thickly sliced), a blend of cheeses (my favorite is queso chihuahua/cheddar blend), thinly sliced pear or apple, and a slice of cooked bacon or pancetta. So easy to make and so heart warming, especially when paired with some tomato soup during the winter!
EASY PREP MEAL #5: SALMON & ROASTED VEGGIES
Many people seem to be afraid to cook fish, but there is no reason to be. My trick to making it simple is to cut a lemon into thick slices, lay the fish filet on top of the slices, sprinkle some herbed fish seasoning (you can find a wide array at your local grocery store), drizzle some olive oil over the top, and then pop the pan into a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Easy peasy.
And the perfect side? Roasted veggies! Simply cut up whatever veggies you desire, ensuring that the pieces are cut into similar sizes to maintain similar cooking times. I like to do a red onion, red potato, pepper, asparagus combo with salmon because I love the vibrant colors. Depending on the size of your veggies, roast at 400 degrees (after a healthy dose of salt and pepper, as well as olive oil) for 15-20 minutes, flipping veggies after 10 minutes. Or you can also make an aluminum foil packet, so there is no mess and no fuss. An easy and healthy dinner like this pairs really well with a nice white wine, wink wink!
I hope that these dishes provided you with some reliable recipes to add to your repertoire so that you avoid ordering in an expensive meal and instead save up to get those adorable shoes you have been longing for. Or at the very least I hope I inspired you to get cooking…and be sure to get your kiddos involved, too! My boys will devour anything I put in front of them as long as they have a hand in making it.
Did you like this blog post? Then check out my other recipes!