I currently have a little chubby baby wrapped up in a Moby Wrap on my chest. After spending the last week and a half trying to get things done with a baby in one arm, I realized that I better invest in a good sling (and I love this one so far)! I got sort of good at cracking an egg with one hand, but didn’t get very good at typing with one hand. Needless to say, dinners around here have been very, very simple. The first night we didn’t have someone bringing us dinner, I made oatmeal (unsoaked, mind you). I have been very glad to have a few meals stowed away in our freezer, but I also know that those will only last so long. So, I thought it would be great to hear ideas from all of my readers on quick prep nourishing meals. I know that I am certainly only going to be doing simple meals for the next few months, but quick prep meals are always appreciated, no matter what season of life we are in. Please share your ideas!
Here are a few ideas from my blog:
Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa An ever popular recipe here on The Nourishing Gourmet, this is also a family favorite. It’s great for me in this season as well as it only takes a few minutes to put together and quinoa was traditionally used to support healthy lactation.
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup While this takes a few hours to cook, it only take minutes to throw together. And I am sure it could easily be adapted to a slow cooker.
Lemon Garlic Drumsticks I have several meals worth of this recipe in my freezer. All I need to do is defrost and cook. But it’s are easy to throw together “from scratch” too!
Herbed Baked Eggs Eggs are a super simple meal to throw together in a myriad of ways. This method is only slightly more complicated than frying an egg, but seems special too.
Now it’s your turn! What are your ideas for nourishing meals that are easy to throw together? I would love to hear from you!
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We have reached the end of a “baby year” and found that we ate a lot of rice and beans. I would toss together 1 part black beans, 2 parts brown rice, some frozen veggies, cheese and salsa. This 5-minute (ingredients were already in fridge or freezer) meal got us fed many days and nights. If we were feeling “fancy”, I would warm up some brown rice tortillas to use as dippers (corn would likely work well here too, but I have to eat gluten-free).
Nearly all corn tortillas are gluten free.
also, many corn tortillas are made using somewhat traditional methods of soaking corn in lime (not juice) water. here i can buy these types of tortillas at any mexican grocer or co-op. and corn is gf.
French Toast for dinner is SO YUMMY!
Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook
Here’s my super quick – and still yummy – meal: http://likeabubblingbrook.blogspot.com/2010/10/shhh-heres-secret-from-my-kitchen-and.html
What’s nice is that the pasta in this dish is flexible to each family’s eating style… you can use whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta, white pasta (gasp!), whichever is preferred.
Here are some of my favorite simple meals. 🙂 Enjoy your time with your precious girls!
Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Egg Drop Soup
I whipped up a batch of Katie’s Egg Drop soup last night with some bone broth that I had previously frozen – and received rave reviews from my low-carb husband and 8 month old! We gave my son a taste of the broth and cabbage (probably not the greatest idea because of the soy sauce and eggs…we just tried to avoid the egg pieces, but he did fine.) and he refused to eat any more of his baby food from the jar! He wanted more of that delicious soup 🙂
My husband is on a (self-imposed) low-carb diet. Does anyone have ideas for quick-prep, low-carb, frugal meals? (tall order, I know!)
My husband is too! Here are some ideas for ya….
– On the weekend I’ll make up a big batch of Cuban black beans and those make a quick and filling side dish for chicken or steak with simple steamed veggies on the side. Also, you can mix the black beans with brown rice (for those who don’t mind a few carbs) and a little leftover chicken for a rice bowl. You can do the same with cajun red beans with shrimp mixed in, or italian white tuscan beans with sausage mixed in.
– We’ve done taco night without the tortilla/chips/taco shells. Sometimes it’s fajita chicken or steak with lots of peppers, onions, tomatoes sauteed. top with guac, sour cream, and lots of those sauteed veggies and you won’t even miss the tortilla! Pinto beans and brown rice can be easy sides. This is also versatile if you and/or kiddos want to include the carbs but you don’t want to make seperate meals for hubby!
– We’ve done pasta-free pasta night….yes, it sounds weird, but it’s shocking how much you don’t miss the pasta! I make a BIG batch of meatballs (with lentils mixed in with the beef to stretch the meat a little further, while still keeping it low carb so you dont have to do bread crumbs and it’s super cheap with the lentils!) and then I serve those with a rich tomato sauce, with other veggies tossed in (zucchini, cherry tomatos, onions, mushrooms, etc.) and usually a bean as well (garbanzos are good with italian food). Again, this is another one where you and/or kids could eat pasta if you dont want to go low-carb with him. So you could make a big batch of those meatballs on the weekend and just do a jar pasta sauce if time is short! My hubby loves to eat the meatballs as a snack on the weekend too.
– Chili and Taco Soup can easily become low carb! And those are so quick and easy to toss into the crockpot and forget about all day!
– So if you haven’t noticed the key to being lowcarb and frugal is beans! Seriously, I make a huge batch of beans every weekend because they stretch the budget, fill the tummy and are low carb too! And they reheat pretty easily and quickly (you can also freeze beans too!) If you are short on time, canned beans take minutes to prepare! Drain canned black beans and mix with a little salsa and cumin and all the sudden you’ve got a fun side dish! Pinto beans mixed with a little low carb BBQ sauce makes an easy “baked bean” side dish! And lentils get mixed into everything around here!
Most corn tortilla’s are dusted with flour to prevent sticking…
Eggs are natures perfect food and so versatile. Here, it’s omelettes or strata’s, poached eggs and spinach on polenta, dutch babies (easy to make gluten free) and clafouti’s
Bacon eggs and pan friend potatos are my husbands favorite meal.
Ugh! I did not know that about corn tortillas! I’m going to have to make some phone calls!
How do you make your dutch babies gluten free? I tried once and they flopped.
None of the corn tortillas I have ever purchased were dusted with flour. Maybe it’s a regional thing?
For the Dutch Baby we subbed Pamela’s pancake mix and have use Arrowhead Mills Gluten free flour and both worked great.
If you have to be gluten free, always check with the company. I ate at a mexican place 3 weeks ago and got violently ill… even though she assured me there was no flour in the tortillas..or on them.
Unless it is certifed gluten free, I’ve learned not to take chances. Phone those companies.
Cassandra Potier Watkins
Our post baby diet was to make delicious creamy soups. I would always make enough so that I could bottle half for another night when we did not want to cook at all.
To make the soups we would wash and chop whatever vegetables were in season, throw them into the pot only just covered with water or broth. Add some sea salt and cook for 30 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, blend it all with an immersion blender. Add water to desired consistency. This is also really handy when the little one starts to eat because, ommitting the salt, you have puree for the baby and soup for the entire family. This is low carb, quick, frugal, filling and delicious. Serve it with an egg, whole grain bread and raw cheese, etc. Even now that the kids are older I still make one of these soups every week!
@Kimi and Rebekah:
Soup, soup, soup! is my suggestion. It is so easily adaptable and really, you can throw just about anything together and have a decent soup (so long as it has some flavor and salt!) My favorite standby soup option is lentils: they are a good source of protein so they don’t need to be accompanied by meat, and they don’t require a long soaking or cooking period so they’re a pretty quick fix for dinner. They also don’t necessarily need any stock. There’s tons of options (and I know you have some yourself, Kimi!) but I made a tasty recipe last night from 101cookbooks that was easy and fairly quick – looks like it’s dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free – and you could definitely substitute some ingredients to make it less fussy/expensive (I used all whole green lentils, skipped cilantro, didn’t toast the curry powder, and I’m sure you could use regular onions and ground ginger). We poured the soup over rice and it was great. Congrats on your sweet new baby Kimi!
a quiche with whatever veggies you have around, maybe a bit of leftover sausage, bacon or chicken…… and most quiches can be made ahead and stuck in the fridge till you are ready to cook it, so it makes it easy to mix up whenever baby might nap since they usually aren’t napping whenever it is you need to make dinner 😉
soup, soup, and more soup! the only time consuming thing about soup is making the stock, but even that is so simple (and I’m sure you know all about making good stocks). once you have the stock on hand, the rest is easy. thaw out some stock, throw in some frozen vegies like peas or green beans, a can of tomatoes, some chopped left over meat, maybe a can of pinto beans or some diced potato, season as desired, and there you have a simple and quick and delicious and healthy main dish. but even following a soup recipe is simple – tonight we are having Sue Gregg’s Old Fashioned Chicken and Rice Soup – stock, carrots, chicken, rice, peas, cream …. easy, delicious, and healthy comfort food. we’ll have salad to go with it.
Our Whole Foods has pastured pork sausages in a variety of flavors & if you watch for the sale – they are not too expensive (you can maybe get something similar near you). And Trader Joe’s has a turkey keilbasa (raised w/o antibiotics). Either of those proteins cooked on the stove & with a baked squash and some frozen veggies can make an easy meal.
We grill the lemony garlic chicken and I make a slaw with the following peppery dressing.
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2-3 TBSP Walnut oil
1/2 tsp of each black, white, and red pepper (more if needed)
1/4 tsp salt
Mix well and serve over slaw or salad.
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship
White chicken chili: 2 cans white beans (or dry equivalent), a jar of salsa, 2 cups cooked chicken (grab a rotisserie – you deserve it!), 2 cups chicken stock. Heat through and add a block of Monterrey or pepper jack cheese. Done!
Since I partly grew up in Japan, we like lots of Japanese food. There are lots of super fast and easy suppers, such as Oyako Donburi (chicken and egg over rice), which takes about 5-10 minutes to cook (rice is cooked separately and takes about 30 minutes for brown basmati), and Okonomiyaki (savory pancake with meat and vegetables). For a light and quick dinner, Ochazuke can be dressed up or down, depending (you can include some flaked salmon and seaweed strips, even egg) on your tastes and time.
Other quick meal ideas are pizzas made with sprouted or brown rice wraps or tortillas, baked macaroni and cheese (we use brown rice pasta, heavy cream/shredded cheese/egg for the sauce, no pre-cooking required), and anything over rice (can you see a recurring theme here….we eat a lot of brown rice!).
Congrats on the birth of your new baby!
I have a 1 year old girl and have spent a year making “quick prep” meals – but I remember those first few weeks, when quick prep really meant boil pasta and open a jar of sauce. Not hugely nourishing! Can I suggest acorn squash? Slice it in half and scoup out seeds, put it cut side down on a pan with a little water, bake for 30-40 minutes at 400. Flip it over and some maple syrup and butter – yum! Prep takes maybe 3 minutes. We eat ours with a side of quinoa cooked with homemade chicken stock. Good luck!
Dana @ Budget Dietitian
I love that you are looking to take it easy. We are just out of that baby stage and I wish that I had been easier on myself.
I love Crockpot meals and here is the easiest one:
Soup, macaroni and cheese, lots of simple salads with beans and meat, rice and beans, tacos, quiche, we’ve also made your sweet souffled omelette several times 🙂 Pizza can be fairly simple with dough pre-made. When we have that on the meal plan I’ll take advantage of a morning nap and make a double batch to use later. Stir-fry. Shredded meat (in the crockpot) for sandwiches.
The following is what our family has named “Mrs. Marks’ Soup”. Mrs. Marks is a remarkable lady from our church who blessed us with this recipe “just in case company stayed through a meal” last November when my father-in-law tragically died. This was an instant hit, lasts MANY a meal, is easily made, needs no attention, is frugal and nourishing (WOW!). It FILLS my giant crock pot.
Mrs. Marks’ Meatball Soup serves 10-20
62 mini meatballs (or 1+ lb of browned ground beef) 2c shell noodles (uncooked)
32oz chicken stock 32oz diced tomatoes, with juice
15oz green beans 3 large carrots, sliced
10oz Peas 2c cooked kidney beans
3-4c spaghetti sauce 3-4c tomato juice
Put all ingredients into crock pot and turn on low for 4 hours. Notes: 1)This is usually more of a stew than a soup, but you could add more stock to thin. 2)If you use brown rice pasta, they will soon become mush (like for left-overs), so be warned.
My current favorite:
Sweet and Sour Lentils (serve over rice): http://zoedawn.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/sweet-and-sour-lentils/
Jen @ Oh no! I really do need to eat my vegetables!
Most of my blog is quicky recipes – I am amazed at how much eating more veggies and less grains and starches shortens meal prep. That being said – I concur with soup. I can throw in veggies that I prepped and threw in containers at another point earlier in the day or week… And everything can go in!
Anything roasted is lovely too. Of course, now it is winter squash season 🙂 I heat up some pre-baked winter squash with butter for quick breakfast. Foods with lots of flavor (especially spicey-ness) often taste just as good cold as hot.
My DD is 16mo, but dinnertime is still her hardest part of the day – I put her high on my back so she can watch the meal prep.
I remember the days with young children. When they got a little bigger, I put them in a back carrier so I didn’t drop any food on their heads while cooking. Here is an easy one pan dish:
Our quickest healthiest meal is taco salad. At least, I think it’s healthy. I make my own taco seasoning in bulk from scratch with all natural ingredients. For a really last minute meal, I just fry up a pound or so of ground meat (turkey is my favorite) and sprinkle in couple tablespoonsful of taco seasoning. If I have already chopped onions in the freezer, I’ll toss in some of those too. We put some tortilla chips or tortillas on our plate, cover it with lettuce (or leftover salad if we have some), put sour cream and shredded cheese on top for those that like it, and top with salsa and some of the ground turkey. A pound of meat is plenty for our family of 6, in fact, we usually have leftover meat to toss in the freezer for another time. 🙂
Roasted vegetables (pre-chop and freeze for later use) and chicken drumsticks. Just take out of freezer in the morning, set on counter-top all day to defrost, toss with olive oil and spices an hour before dinner and roast in the oven. EASY!
Ok, so more of a method than a recipe, from my friend Jessica…When it is my trip to the butcher, I buy a lot of fresh ground buffalo, as well as some ground fresh liver (I use chicken as I am told it has the mildest taste) and keep it in the fridge not freezer. I carve myself out a couple of hours in the next couple of days, and cook these up (1 lb of liver for every 4 of buffalo is my current ratio, but I think we could increase next time) with a bunch of veggies–onion, garlic, carrots, celery, whatever’s on hand–and spices. Then I freeze these in batches. We find these can be a meal in and of themselves, or can go over rice or a grain, or with tortillas, or beans, or in tomato sauce, or sloppy joes, or spring rolls…..whatever strikes your fancy. It gets liver in you without you really noticing, is quick, nourishing and delicious. It also stretches your meat out further when it has so many other additions with it. I think the 12 pounds of meat and 3 of liver lasts our family of 4 at least 20 meals.
Tonight was an omg what do I make for dinner night. I had chicken tenders in the fridge so I looked up fried chicken recipes and through this meal together:
Chicken tender meat (as much as u want to make) we had about 10
About 1-2 cups of flour, milk and bread crumbs
To the bread crumbs, I added a generous amount of Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. Let chicken soak in milk, dip and coat in flour. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then soak in milk and bread crumbs, let sit for 10 minutes, repeat if necessary. After coating us done, fry until cooked through. We served with hush puppies I had made before and frooze. The chicken was very yummy. We all raved about my experiment. Hubby fried for me so that made it a little easier. All in all, took about 15-20 minutes. More the more bread coatings or time in-between that you take.
I can totally empathize! I just had a baby 9 weeks ago, about the time I learned to type one-handed 🙂 Here are a couple of the easy meals I’ve put together recently:
Julia in West Des Moines
I will be looking into the crockpot chicken. maybe even this week.
Super easy, Rice-Lentil Casserole
3/4C brown rice
1/2 C lentils
1 small onion, diced
3C liquid (either water, broth or half of each)
Blend all together in Crockpot on high for 3 hours
Or: bake in casserole dish for 90 minutes in 350 oven
And if you have more time you can always add in more diced veggies or herbs and spices of your liking! Enjoy
Hi Kimi, I have always LOVED your blog. I was wondering if you are ever looking for guest bloggers or if you ever “guest” on other sites? I’d love to have you or vice versa. Congratulations on your new sweet baby. Kimberle at Nurturedpath.com
Michelle @ Find Your Balance
5 minute soups have been my go-to and I haven’t even had this baby yet!
This is not exactly fast to prepare but it is very easy with minimal hands on time and it freezes really well and makes for fast meals later. Very comforting and nutritious.
Family pack of chicken legs, at least 12
1 large bell pepper
1 large onion
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 stick butter
Dice up pepper and onion and set aside. Heat butter in a large skillet and brown the legs well on all sides. Transfer chicken to a large stock pot. Cook down and brown peppers and onion in same pan used for chicken. Add some water to deglaze and scrape pan into the stock pot with the chicken. Fill stock pot with water and heat to a hard simmer. Allow to cook until the chicken is about to fall off the bone. Remove chicken to a large bowl with some tongs and pull all the meat from the bones and return the meat to the stock pot. Cook down until you have a thick stew. Season to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg pasta. So yummy and great for kids and even little eaters.
One of my most very favorite meals that is super quick to throw together (usually for lunch as it works out here) is a nice, hearty, toothsome bread, olive oil with spices for dipping, cheese and grapes. When I’m on the ball I have cheese cubed and grapes washed in the fridge so just spicing up some olive oil and then cubing some bread is all there is to it. Sometimes we have this with hard boiled eggs, too.
picadillo is quick, nourishing, easy and gluten-free. here’s one recipe, though in mine i use chopped potatoes and skip the rice and beans. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/picadillo-recipe/index.html
Erica @ Butternuts
Donburi was the first thing I thought of, as well. Here’s a not-authentically-Japanese but still yummy recipe: http://butternutblitz.blogspot.com/2010/02/donburi-saves-day-again.html
I’ve been all about the slow cooker these days as we’ve been busy with new scheduling . . . I have a bunch of recipes on my site for one pot, “easy” meals:
but have also enjoyed reading from the “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker” cookbook series borrowed from the library:
and, when in doubt, breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, etc.) is always a good one around here!
What’s the best way to use the lemon drumsticks as a freezer meal? Marinate first…etc. I’m decent at cooking meats/meals, but freezing meals seems a bit more difficult, somehow. I appreciate the advice!
I just gave the chicken legs a good rub with the seasoning and poured it into freezer bags (bleh, I know..plastic) and froze. They taste great!
I am a big fan of freezing half of whatever I make, providing the recipe lends itself to freezing of course. Makes it SO much easier on those days when I just can’t get around to cooking. This goes for baking days too. I usually have loaves of bread in the freezer as well. Eggs, soft or hard-boiled, scrambled, whatever on toast with some of my lacto-fermented veggies atop or under the egg is super fast and easy.
My go-to quick meal is dirty rice: ground meat (pork, beef, sausage…), rice (make one big pot on Monday and use it all week), and some kind of veggie, all in one pot. My favorite is sausage, rice, and spinach.
I posted a real food hamburger helper recipe, ready in under 30 minutes:
Swiss Steak is pretty easy/no fuss, too. Basically you’re poaching/stewing a roast or steak in tomato sauce, then serving over rice.
Minestrone Soup can be put together quickly – chop the veggies, add water, simmer, then add beans and noodles.
HTH – and there’s NOTHING wrong with scrambled eggs for dinner!
Canned wild salmon mixed with mayo over salad. I throw in whatever else I have, hardboiled egg, cheese, etc.
Take the time to make some soaked tortillas. I have three kids 3 and under, my youngest is almost 9 months, and I make them once a week. They are hands down my fast and easiest go to meal. I don’t know how you make yours but here’s mine real quick.
4-4.5c ww flour
1/2 c lard
1 cup boiling water
Mix flour and lard first. Then add boiling water. When dough has cooled slightly, add yogurt. Cover with damp towel all night. Roll into desired size tortillas and dry fry med to med-low (if using cast iron) 30-45 sec per side. This recipe makes 22-28 (depends on how much i take out for my kids to play with)
With those we eat a lot of refried bean burritos with hot sauce (well no hot sauce for the kiddies). We eat egg sandwiches in the mornings, quesadillas or wraps at lunch, and if I’m being really lazy that day I’ll make quick enchiladas for dinner (roux, cream cheese, milk, salt, chicken, green chilies, cumin, garlic powder, done.)
I also cook with potatoes a lot too. Here’s a quick way to make them and it makes them very versitile.
5-6 med potatoes diced (you can leave the peels on) I like yukon gold, russets fall apart a bit
That’s the bare bones basics. The recipe calls for onion and garlic powder. This is definitely tasty, but when I’m trying to hurry, i’m not going to fry onions first then remove them and add the potatoes… but wait i’m getting ahead of myself 🙂
Steam the potatoes for about 10 minutes. In the meantime heat a skillet and, if you want, cook some onion then take it out. Melt your butter. Add potatoes when ready. Pat them down and let cook oh 15 minutes or so. Check them. Flip em, and cook another 10 minutes. So while your potatoes are cooking you can be making a couple hamburger patties, or some eggs. These potatoes are our home fries. We like them with hot sauce (of course), or just some cottage cheese and some fermented cabbage (one of my personal favs), you get the picture. Anyway congratulations. As you know nothings is quick in this line of eating, trying to get a rhythm going is what’s difficult.
*if you cook the tortillas longer on the skillet they get nice and hard, like a chip or cracker. then they’re great with hummus! Yum.
Salsa crockpot chicken
2 chicken breasts (thawed or frozen work)
1 bag frozen corn
1 large jar salsa (I’ve also used a large jar of lacto-fermented salsa with great success! Muir Glenn has good organic salsa if you need something in a pinch!)
1 can black beans drained or semi-drained. I like a little of the goopy stuff! Or, the equivalent of soaked black beans.
* Layer everything in your crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred the chicken about 30 minutes prior to serving. It’s also good with sour cream or cream cheese mixed in. We serve it with tortillas, rice, tortilla chips and all the Mexican fixings on the side! It’s such an easy, yummy dish!
Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwhiches are always a quick and easy meal. Especially if you can get your hubby to cook the bacon for you ahead of time! We also fall back on breakfast for dinner when things get really crazy or I desperately need to go grocery shopping!
I love to make a quick skillet dish of kale, sausage and white beans. I saute 1/2 chopped onion in olive oil, then add about 1/2 pound bulk chicken sausage, and cook it until browned. Then I add a bunch of rinsed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped kale. Cook that until it’s wilted, then add a can of rinsed and drained white beans. Toss gently until the beans are warmed. Season with s & p, and you can sprinkle a little white wine vinegar on the top if you like. It’s a great comfort food!
Heather @ Mommypotamus
I, too, am holding a chubby babe most of the day. Since this is my second, I knew what to expect, so a few months before my due date I began collecting quick, nourishing recipes. I figured other mamas would be interested in my research, so I created a Real Food For Busy Moms Series. Part 1 is at http://www.mommypotamus.com/real-food-for-busy-moms/
I hope you’re enjoying this short season as much as I am!