It’s been a long day of driving back and forth from school, preschool, work and running errands. You finally park in the familiar spot in the garage and spend the next ten minutes unloading everything from your car. The kids run into the house ahead of you and you nearly trip on a toy that you are unable to see while your arms are full with bags. You walk into your kitchen and suddenly remember, “Dinner!” You have nothing planned and by now all the kids are leaping from couch to couch in the living room. You glance at the clock and it says 4:55. A panic spreads through your body as 5:00 meltdown approaches and you try to figure out what you can make quickly.
This is a scenario that has happened to me many times. Some of you have read my “Simple and Kid-Friendly Meals for Busy Families” article and have asked for more. Here are my “Go To” meal ideas for days that you need something fast.
1. Pasta and Easy Italian Meat Sauce
This one comes from Martha Stewart’s "Great Food Fast" Cookbook. The only thing that I change is I substitute the 28 ounces of whole tomatoes for a 29 ounce can of tomato sauce. (I do this with almost every recipe to customize it to my family’s preferences.) I always make homemade pasta sauce and it usually takes all day to simmer. This sauce cooks about 20 minutes and tastes like it has been simmering all day. Even if I have ground beef or ground turkey in the freezer, I can de-thaw it quickly and still get this meal on the table in less than 45 minutes. Try making a double batch and store the extra in containers that you can freeze for later use.
2. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
It is old school but will remind you of home. My kids love the crispy outer crust and the warm, cheesy middle. You can make them traditional style with American cheese or try them with mozzarella and give the kids marinara or a little pasta sauce to dip them. On days that I make these for dinner, I pair the sandwiches with soup, rolled up slices of deli meat, or hot dogs. Even my husband is happy to have these with a big steaming bowl of soup.