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Today we are tackling dinnertime rush. Busy afternoons can derail the best of intentions when it comes to cooking, but a packed schedule doesn’t have to stop you from serving up fresh healthy meals that your whole family will enjoy. Fast food may seem like the only option on some nights, but with these super tasty and super quick dinner options, you may find waiting in line at the drive through actually takes more time!

SB Tip: Having speedy sides on hand is key. Serve any of the following main dishes with quick cooking sides, such as couscous, microwavable brown rice and quinoa blends, shredded potatoes, steam-in-the-bag fresh veggies, raw veggie sticks, zucchini ribbons (made with a vegetable peeler), bagged salad mixes or leftover sides from a previous meal. Add fresh fruit for dessert to complete your meal.

Lemon Chicken

Dinner in a flash doesn't have to mean fast food.

Dinner in a flash doesn’t have to mean fast food. Photo credit: Parenting.com

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 chicken cutlets, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Juice from half a lemon or to taste
  • Butter to your liking
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing

Directions:

The key to getting this on the table in 10 minutes is using cutlets. Cutlets are super thin and cook up quickly. But, before we get to the cutlets, you need to start a quick cooking grain like couscous on the stove and throw in a “steam in the bag” veggie. Ok, now, you’re ready to cook the chicken! Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet, add your seasoned cutlets and cook without disturbing for 3 minutes a side on medium-high heat. (You want them to brown a little.) Remove chicken. Add chicken broth and lemon juice and deglaze pan. Add chicken back to pan. Add a bit of butter if you like to create a more sturdy pan sauce to serve alongside or atop your chicken. Simmer cutlets for another 2 minutes in the sauce. Once the chicken is done, add a tablespoon or so of the lemon chicken sauce to your couscous or rice and spritz your steamed veggies with olive oil or toss with a touch of butter. Voila! Dinner is served, and you can kick back and enjoy the compliments!

Parmesan Crusted Turkey Cutlets

Photo credit: RealSimple.com

Crispy turkey cutlets. Photo credit: RealSimple.com

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 turkey cutlets
  • 2-3 eggs, beat
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs with Parmesan
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil

Directions: Much like the lemon chicken recipe, this recipe relies on quick-cooking turkey cutlets to get dinner on the table in under 10 minutes. Dredge cutlets in flour, beaten egg  and then breadcrumbs you’ve seasoned with Parmesan cheese. Cook in skillet about 3 minutes per side until crispy and serve with a speedy side, like bagged lettuce tossed with vinaigrette or a squash ribbon salad.

Beef or Chicken Stir Fry

Stir fry beef is a great option on a busy week night. Photo credit:

Stir fry beef is a great option on a busy week night. Photo credit: Parenting.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef or chicken strips, thinly sliced
  • Stir-fry veggie medley, fresh or frozen
  • 1 can baby corn and/or water chestnuts
  • Low-sodium teriyaki sauce to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions: First, start a bag of microwavable brown rice so it can cook while you are making the stir fry. Next, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and toss in thinly sliced beef or chicken tenders. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add fresh veggies from salad bar or a pre-cut bagged medley (check the pre-cut veggie/fruit area in your preferred store for stir fry varieties) and canned baby corn and water chestnuts and cook for another 5 or 6 minutes. Serve over the microwaved rice.

Ginger Glazed Salmon

Scoring the salmon makes all the difference! Photo credit: parenting.com

Scoring the salmon makes all the difference! Photo credit: Parenting.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon filets, cut diagonally across two-thirds down toward skin every 2 inches apart
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 half teaspoon of ground ginger

Directions: Preheat your broiler to high. Line a pan with foil and place salmon skin side down on pan. Mix sugar, mustard, soy sauce, and ginger in small bowl. Make shallow cuts diagonally across salmon fillets (this lets the sugar mixture flavor the salmon and is key in speeding up cooking time). Brush salmon with brown sugar mixture. Broil 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. When removing from pan, cut across the bottom with a spatula to remove flesh from skin. Serve with ready-made mashed potatoes and green beans.

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi is another quick fix. Photo credit: village.com

Shrimp Scampi is another quick fix. Photo credit: ivillage.com

Ingredients:

  • 20 large raw shrimp, deveined (can use frozen, but will need to thaw)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

Heat the olive oil on medium-high in skillet. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the raw shrimp and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Squirt a wedge of lemon across the shrimp and into the pan. Spoon shrimp and pan juices onto serving plate. Serve with rice (frozen), couscous, quinoa (frozen), or orzo, along with steam-in-the-bag broccoli.

These are my got-to-get-dinner-on-the-table-NOW recipes, but most everything you would typically serve for dinner can be tweaked to make it a quick cooking recipe simply by thinking thin and small: thinner cuts of meat, poultry and fish, plus smaller versions of sides, like bite-size new potatoes or pre-cut versions of your favorite veggies. There are so many short cut options out there now that don’t compromise on quality.

Fresh green beans cook up in four minutes.

These steam-in-the-bag fresh green beans cook up in four minutes.

Feeling less overwhelmed and more inspired to feed your family a wholesome, delicious dinner? I thought so! We’d love to hear your ideas for quick, healthy meal ideas in the comments below!

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