No time to cook dinner tonight? I have you covered!
There are nights when I’m too busy to cook, we get in late or honestly, I just can’t be bothered cooking a big meal for the family.
Yes, I know there are a million and one options for quick family meals for dinner, but sometimes I have other priorities that beat standing at a stove.
I try to ensure our meals are well balanced and healthy but for these five ideas, I’m letting that slide a little in favour of quick, easy and tasty. Not a slow cooker or meal-prep box in sight.
And you know how much I love meal-planning, cooking and how conscious I am of my family’s health. But these are for those very occasional days when practicality wins.
5 Quick Family Meal Ideas
1. Pre-Cooked, Homemade Meals
One of my ‘go-to’s is to reheat meals I’ve already cooked. This might be leftovers from the night before or freezer meals I’ve made in advance.
When I’m being particularly organised, I try and overcook one to two portions of the dinners I’m making to add them to the freezer for times like this.
It generally works well for one-pot meals like chilli, pasta and casseroles as they’re easy to store, thaw and reheat when needed.
Here’s my youngest chowing down on chilli – I just added microwave rice and chopped some baby cucumbers. Done.
2. Prepared Meals
Along the same lines, there are some premade meals I keep in the cupboard for times when I’m in a pinch. I chatted to Marathon Foods at the Kids Business blogging event I went to recently and they kindly sent me a collection of their meals.
The Marathon Chef Direct range includes Lamb Shanks, Meat Balls and Chilli (mine is better but the kids don’t seem to know the difference, so rude!) where you simple reheat in a pan and add a side such as pasta, rice and veggies.
The kids love the meatballs particularly – my hubs likes the lamb. When I chatted to Marathon, I felt like they had a good understanding of time-poor mums. They’re not claiming that this range is the no. 1 healthiest meal choice but they do understand that it’s a practical solution to make busy parent’s lives easier on occasion.
The meals can be stored before use for up to 12 months in the cupboard so won’t take up room in the fridge. Easy, quick and mess-free.
3. Breakfast for Dinner
I don’t eat breakfast myself most days now – and I’ve never eaten much cereal – but nothing delights my kids more than a bowl of Weetbix for dinner. And my husband too actually! Is your family the same?
It’s filling and not bad health-wise, so it’s an occasional dinner option for us when we’re really in a pinch.
4. Fast Food – Not so healthy options
I’m talking about drive-thrus – yes, yes, yes. There is definitely a time and place for a drive-thru visit in my family’s life and one of those times is when we’re driving back home and it’s past their normal dinner time and close to bedtime. It’s rare, but it happens.
A quick stop for a happy meal means the minute we get home, the kids can eat dinner quickly. And yes, I know it isn’t a healthy choice but it’s occasionally a practical one.
5. Fast Food – Healthier options
How I wish that Coles or Woolworths had a drive-thru too! Grabbing a cooked rotisserie chicken and a pre-prepared salad is another go-to for a quick meal when we’re busy or too tired to cook.
Already made, it’s as simple as chopping up and plating. Done.
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Ideas for when you have no time to cook dinner
I’m a big fan of meal planning and forward planning generally. But even with the most organised life, there are times when we all have little time to cook.
So, whilst I might not be winning any awards for the healthiest options here, they’re practical and quick.
I have a bigger go-to recipes list of the actual meals I can cook in less than 30 minutes – let me know if you want me to share them?
What are your go-to quick meals for the family?
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What are your ideas for meals when you have no time to cook?