Busy nights don’t have to mean hitting the drive thru for dinner – make any of my favorite 25 Quick-Fix Back to School Recipes with side dish ideas instead!
It’s officially back to school time around here! Local kids headed back yesterday and the fact that Target was filled to the brim with casually strolling Mamas sans kid when I was there picking up a few odds and ends Monday morning speaks to what they’re doing with a little extra time on their hands.
Never underestimate the spirit lifting powers of a solo Target run (nor the damage you can do to your bank account when you’re not racing through the store with a toddler in the cart, being careful not to let him catch sight of the Target dog statue lest he insist you park said cart in front of said dog statue so he can pet it for 15 minutes!)
I digress. Back to school means saying goodbye to lazy summer evenings and hello to homework, soccer practice, dance class, and oboe lessons (just me?) I don’t know how my parents made it out of my brother’s and my school aged years alive. From dance to soccer, choir and drill team, scouts, football and seriously every activity in between, they were shuttling our butts all over town everything single night of the week, God bless ’em!
Even if you don’t have school aged kids, Fall is when things really start to pick up at night (hello season premiere of Modern Family!) so today I’m sharing 25 of my favorite quick-fix recipes that are perfect for back to school time, or really just when life starts to feel a little nuts. Each of the recipes I’ve picked out can be made in 30 minutes or less, plus I included one or two side dish ideas to take some of the guess work out of what to serve with your meal.
It’s easy to hit up the drive thru when it feels like there’s not enough time to get dinner on the table, but I think you’ll find it’s so satisfying to make one of these 30 minute, 20 minute, and even 15 minute meals for the family instead!
What are some of your quick-fix meal go-tos?
30 MINUTE MEALS
Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves
Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves are easy, cheesy, plus everyone get’s their own little meatloaf so nobody’s fighting over the last slice! Serve with roasted broccoli or Broccoli Cheddar Orzo to make it a full meal.
Skillet Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parmesan made healthy, in 30 minutes, and in just one skillet. Serve Skillet Chicken Parmesan over cooked pasta and with a side salad or parmesan bread (bread spread with butter and parmesan cheese then broiled until golden brown) to round the meal out.
Shortcut Vegetable Ragu
Shortcut Vegetable Ragu gets better as it sits so it’s perfect to make a day before then reheat for a nearly instant dinner. Bonus: it’s packed with vegetables that you can’t even taste! Serve with baked regular or sweet potatoes and a side salad.
Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples
Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples has all the flavor of a slow-cooked chili but will be ready in just 30 minutes. If you need to eat gluten-free, make sure the canned chilis you buy say gluten-free on the packaging. Serve with chopped apples, crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese to pump up each protein-packed bowl.
Mini Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaves
Mini Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaves are light and healthy but packed with flavor – plus they’re super juicy which can be hard to achieve when you’re working with lean ground turkey! Serve with roasted asparagus or sweet potato fries.
Apple-Cheddar Stuffed Chicken with Apple-Dijon Pan Sauce
Apple-Cheddar Stuffed Chicken with Apple-Dijon Pan Sauce is a whole meal in one. Easy stuffed chicken breasts are sauteed then a mouthwatering pan sauce is created with the drippings. So. Dang. Good. Serve with Creamy Parmesan Garlic Quinoa or roasted asparagus.
Spicy Tomato & Turkey Soup with Ditalini
An oldie but goodie recipe here on IGE that’s remained one of my favorites for years! Spicy Tomato & Turkey Soup with Ditalini is slightly spicy, deeply savory, and just plain delicious – plus it’s ready in no time. Serve with regular or gluten-free bread and a fruit or side salad.
Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper
Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper is a riff on those boxed meals with 100 different ingredients except this healthy meal is made with stuff you can pronounce! We love this simple, crunchy, cheesy dish at our house and usually serve it with sliced apples or steamed green beans.
Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli
I tested the recipe for Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli over and over until I got the sauce recipe to taste exactly like take out. This quick-fix meal is much faster than waiting for a delivery driver – healthier too – plus it’s a whole meal in one.
One-Pan Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
One-Pan Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta is a complete meal made in just one skillet, making it ideal for busy weeknights. The combination of Italian sausage, marinara sauce, pasta, peppers, and cheese is so comforting. Serve with chopped kale sauteed with garlic, salt and pepper then call it a meal!
Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Casserole
If your family likes creamy casseroles then they’ll love Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice Casserole. I seriously can’t get enough whenever I make it! So satisfying and delicious, plus leftovers are just as good. Serve with a side salad or Garlic Butter Mushrooms.
Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts put ordinary chicken breasts to shame. They’re incredibly easy and really flavorful – definitely a chicken night game changer! Serve with steamed broccoli or Creamy Chicken Pasta for a light and healthy meal.
Easy Homemade Burrito Bowls
No need for extra sides if you’re making Easy Homemade Burrito Bowls. Set out the components then let your family customize each bowl to their liking. Cheaper than heading to Chipotle – healthy and filling too.
20 MINUTE MEALS
Use leftover cooked ground beef to get these delicious Cheeseburger Quesadillas on the table in no time. Serve with a salad or sweet potato fries plus fresh fruit.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
Cauliflower Fried Rice will trick your tastebuds into thinking you’re eating oil-laden regular fried rice – it’s that good! Saute shrimp or a couple chicken breasts to make this a full meal.
BBQ Chicken, Apple, Bacon, Cheddar Quesadillas
BBQ Chicken, Apple, Bacon, Cheddar Quesadillas taste down right decadent – I could eat them every single night. Prep the chicken and bacon a day ahead of time to get this quick-fix dish on the table even faster, and serve with sauteed zucchini to make it a meal.
Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteaks
Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteaks are one of my favorite pre-gluten-free meals. I am still holding out hope that someone will come out with a squishy gluten-free hoagie bun because these sandwiches are IT. So quick and easy – they’ll blow your mind. Serve with a big salad drizzled with ranch dressing.
Crispy Baked Asian Salmon
Crispy Baked Salmon is one of my favorite ways to eat salmon. Slather fresh filets with a quick, Asian-inspired pantry sauce, sprinkle with crunchy gluten-free or regular bread crumbs, then send ’em into the oven for a quick roast. Couldn’t be simpler! Serve with Creamy Garlic Shells and roasted vegetables.
Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites
Pizza night just got a whole lot cuter! Take 20 minutes from your busy day to make Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites that everyone’s going to love. Be sure to cook the quinoa a day ahead of time so the bites come together lickity split. Serve with fresh fruit or my Summer Spinach Salad.
Teriyaki Fried Rice
By now you’re probably noticing a theme – lots of Asian-inspired recipes in this Quick-Fix recipe roundup! That’s because they’re extremely quick-cooking and made from mostly fridge and pantry staples. Teriyaki Fried Rice fits that description and tastes just like it came from a restaurant. (Psst: be sure to cook the rice the day before to make this a truly 20 minute meal!)
Swiss Pan Burgers with Rosemary-Mushroom Pan Sauce
Swiss Pan Burgers with Rosemary-Mushroom Pan Sauce how do I love thee, let me count the ways?! One, you’re made in a skillet vs on the grill so the family can enjoy you year round, two, your lovely, savory pan sauce is made in the same skillet as the burgers, and three, rosemary mushrooms. ‘nuf said. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this meal made complete by serving Roasted Potato Wedges on the side.
Homemade Cheeseburger Helper
Just say no to buying a box mix loaded with ingredients you can’t even pronounce. My Homemade Cheeseburger Helper is made in 20 minutes with nearly all fridge and pantry staples. Serve with a side salad and sliced apples to make it a complete meal.
15 MINUTE MEALS
Creamy Chicken and Herb Skillet
Just 15 minutes is all you need to feed your family my Creamy Chicken and Herb Skillet on an insanely busy night. No excuses for hitting the drive through when you’ve got this quick-fix recipe in your back pocket! Serve with Honey-Dijon Roasted Potatoes for a full meal, or a side salad if you want to stay in the 15 minute range for dinner.
Apple Orchard Panini
Hot sandwiches were a dinnertime staple in my busy household when I was growing up (think grilled cheese and hot ham and cheese,) and I still love them to this day – especially Apple Orchard Panini. I think the week I shared this dish I ate, like, 12 of them. Serve with Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Shallots and Garlic to make a full meal.
Tomato Basil Soup with Cheese Tortellini
I saved perhaps the quickest and easiest for last – Tomato Basil Soup with Cheese Tortellini is made with the help of store-bought cheese tortellini (look for gluten-free tortellini if you need it,) and jarred marinara sauce. Although it’ll be ready in 15 minutes it tastes like it’s been simmering all day. Unbelievably quick and delicious! Serve with bread or crostini, and a side salad.