When dinner has to be quick, it's easy to turn to frozen entrees and take-out. With the right ingredients on hand and 20 to 30 minutes, a home-cooked meal can be almost as easy as a trip to the drive-thru.
Salmon, Rice and Broccoli
Salmon is not only one of the easiest to prepare proteins, it is one of the healthiest. Broil or grill fresh or thawed salmon fillets brushed with olive oil, or purchase packaged salmon fillets that can be tossed into boiling water to poach. Serve with boxed rice pilaf and steamed fresh or frozen broccoli.
Pork, Potatoes and Red Cabbage
Thin-sliced boneless pork chops can be the basis of an incredibly quick version of schnitzel (thin breaded and fried meat). Dip chops into milk, and toss in a mixture of flour and dry breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Pan fry in vegetable oil for 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with mashed potatoes (homemade, refrigerated or instant) and jarred red cabbage.
Chicken, Orzo and Spinach
It's no secret that boneless, skinless chicken breasts make quick and healthy meals. While the uses for this ubiquitous cut are almost endless, it can get boring. Try pounding them thin and sauteing in olive oil, lemon and garlic. Serve with buttered orzo (rice-shaped pasta) and streamed fresh spinach.
Stir Fry and Rice
Homemade stir fry may seem like a big production, but it's actually one of the quickest, easiest dishes to make. Purchase beef or chicken already cut into strips, or use bean curd (firm tofu). Cook, stirring constantly, in vegetable oil over medium high heat (a wok is best, but a skillet will work if you don't have one). Remove and set aside. Stir fry vegetables (green onion, snow peas, pre-sliced mushrooms, and bell pepper strips are some good choices), and return cooked meat or bean curd to the pan, seasoning with soy sauce or bottled stir fry sauce. Serve with steamed or boiled white rice.
Red Beans with Eggs
For a quick meatless meal that is full of protein and very filling, try an ultra-quick take on Huevos Rancheros: Heat a can of red beans in sauce in a skillet, and crack four eggs on top. Cover and simmer until the egg whites are cooked through, and the yolks are to your liking. Top with shredded cheese and/or prepared pica de gallo or salsa, and plate over warmed flour tortillas. Serve with fresh (bagged) salad.