Cooking Corner: Meals in Less Than an Hour?

If I see the "Weekday Meals You Can Make in Less Than an Hour" post one more time I'm going to scream. I DON'T HAVE AN HOUR!

And the headlines all make it seem like this is so much better than usual. I'm sorry, no. I can make a freaking feast in an hour. What I need during the week is a meal I can make in 15 minutes with little to no clean up. I've got shit to do, tiny humans to raise, and no time for culinary delights during the week.

That's what holidays and weekends are for.

So in my fit of you've got to be kidding me rage, I've listed my favorite quick meals for the busy bad asses out there looking for ideas mid-week. (Note: some are heavily inspired by my writing group. I can't take all the credit. These ladies love food and know the stakes!) Also, most of these require a very tiny amount of pre-cooking on, say, the Sunday before. So I've made my pre-prep list first, followed by my quick meal list second. Go forth and eat!

Blog Post Cooking Corner

Quick Prep Foods

  • Quinoa. It refrigerates so freaking well. I still can't get over it. I make a batch in my Instant Pot on Sunday (or Monday if I'm making lunch at home) and use it for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
  • Shredded chicken (or beef or pork). In the Instant Pot or slow cooked in the crockpot, a few breasts in chicken broth = delicious shredded chicken plain enough to be used in any meal, but tasty enough to eat alone.
  • Roasted chickpeas. (I don't even know who I am anymore!)
  • Dressing. I make my own for reasons. So if I know what the ethnicity of my food plan is for the week then I make a dressing or two to complement the foods that go with it.

Quick Meals

  • Egg scramble. (Inspired by Lindsay Emory) Scramble up some high protein eggs and throw in whatever is in the fridge (spinach, onions, sausage, lunch meat, tomatoes, cheeses). Add some toast with jam, avocado toast, or even a spinach salad with vinaigrette. (I also save any leftover pancake batter from the weekend and toss in a few pancakes as a treat for my kids.)
  • Rice bowls. Chipotle is faster but I don't always have the time to run into Chipotle between homework, soccer practice, yoga, and who knows what else this week has brought upon us.) And, to my great dismay, my kids still don't really like anything there. Ugh. But at home I can IP some rice, throw on some black beans, top with whatever meat I shredded for the week, salsa, sour cream, and even some spinach, for a quick, yummy meal. (I've also been known to throw a chicken breast marinated in my Adobo seasonings on the stove for a different flavor of chicken mid week.) Even my picky kids will take part in bowl night (and they get to adjust what goes inside!)
  • Quinoa bowls. I'm still amazed I eat these! But thanks to Mary Chris Escobar I've found the secret (hint: it's the lemon dressing!) A bed of quinoa topped with the shredded meat of the week, spinach, roasted chickpeas, and half an avocado, drenched in a lemony dressing of 1 fresh lemon, olive oil, and mustard, plus anything else from my fridge I find enticing (sometimes those sweet peppers call my name) and I've got a very tasty, quick meal.
  • Grilled cheese night! Always a hit in my house. Who doesn't love grilled cheese? While the kiddos eat it the good old fashioned way, I usually jazz mine up with some fancy cheeses, olive oil, spinach, and any other veggies (or bacon!) we have in the fridge. A great side dish is tomato soup (a la Julia Kelly!) and/or a salad. If you make Julia's soup you'll probably want to make that ahead of time and save.
  • Chicken and grits. Boil up some quick grits (with half chicken broth instead of all water) and top with parmesan cheese and shredded chicken when it's ready. Add a side salad if you want or maybe a veggie tray. (These grits refrigerate surprisingly well for a quick breakfast or lunch the next day.)
  • Nacho night! Pick your chips of choice, top with shredded meat of the week, veggies you like, cheese, salsa avocado, or lettuce. This is one of those quick meals that can be as healthy or junky as your heart desires.
  • Mexican pizza night! Same as above. The ingredients you choose affect how healthy this dish can be. My current incarnation (inspired by my favorite Texas ladies and using Alexandra Haughton's flair for the wild) involves layering 2-3 tortillas in a pan with shredded chicken, Rotel and/or salsa, and creamy sauce of your choice: cream of chicken, cream sauce you just made in a pan, sour cream sauce, or go really crazy and add queso. Top with cheese and bake. This one might take you closer to thirty minutes all said and done, but it is still a quick and easy way to throw a warm dinner together. (And have leftovers the next day, which equals zero cooking.)
  • Italian night! Spaghetti and sauce is about as easy as you can get, or you can add a pesto and shredded chicken for a different flare.

Stop back in two weeks for more information on my Sunday ingredient prep process! What else does your family like to throw together for a quick and easy meal during the week? Sharing is caring!