Ideas for Quick, Easy Meals

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For the days when you're constantly on the go, quick and easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners are a must. You don't have to sacrifice taste and nutrition for ease of meal preparation, however. With a little creativity and menu planning, you can serve your family delicious, healthy meals in less time than it takes to go to a fast-food restaurant. Many convenient meal options are appropriate for both lunch and dinner.

Breakfast Foods

When you're in a hurry in the morning, you may be tempted to skip breakfast. Doing so will cause you to run on empty, so fuel up with fast and healthy meal options. Make a protein-rich smoothie using yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit and almonds -- and enjoy it with a bagel or muffin. Create a healthier version of your favorite fast-food breakfast sandwich by topping a toasted English muffin with an egg, melted low-fat cheese and either turkey bacon or sausage. Enjoy the sandwich with a piece of fresh fruit.

Soups

Soups can be simple to prepare, especially if you're using canned or leftover ingredients. Make a flavorful Caribbean-inspired soup using canned black beans, chicken or vegetable broth, fresh cilantro and lime juice. If you have leftover chicken or turkey on hand, use it to make a healthy and comforting soup made with prepackaged chicken broth, carrots and celery. For a complete meal, serve the soup alongside a grilled cheese or tuna sandwich, or a large garden salad with creamy dressing and fresh rolls.

Enchiladas

Your family can sit down to a Mexican restaurant-worthy meal in a matter of minutes. To make a one-dish enchilada meal, place leftover chicken or turkey, or refried beans if you desire a vegetarian meal, over flour tortillas. Top the meat or beans with your favorite shredded cheese and chopped green onions, and roll the tortillas to create your enchilada. Give the dish a spicy kick by pouring bottled enchilada sauce over the top before baking.

Pasta

You can whip up a quick and easy pasta dinner using the ingredients you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Boil any type of pasta, such as spaghetti or penne, and combine it with a few basic ingredients as a fast dinner. Toss the hot pasta with pesto sauce made from a mix and bite-size pieces of chicken, or with your favorite bottled marinara sauce, canned tuna and sliced green olives for a protein-packed meal.

Paninis

Paninis are more satisfying than cold sandwiches because they're grilled to toasty perfection. To create the gourmet-tasting sandwiches, simply fill crusty baguettes with your choice of ingredients such as grilled vegetables, tuna, and sliced cheese. Heat the paninis in a grill pan. You can make the sandwiches a day in advance and warm them in the oven for dinner.

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