Quick and Easy Recipes (Secrets of a Busy Cook)

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Secrets of a Busy Cook: Cooking For the Freezer Secrets of a Busy Cook: Planned Leftovers Secrets of a Busy Cook: Quick and Easy Recipes Secrets of a Busy Cook: Fast Ingredients Secrets of a Busy Cook: Tools and Techniques Image Map

Adapted from Secrets of a Busy Cook by Lynn Nelson, used by permission

Level One of the Busy Cook’s Pyramid (Cooking For The Freezer) takes care of three weekday meals with just a small weekly investment of time. Level Two, Planned Leftovers, provides one weekend dinner plus one or more weekday meals. Levels III, IV, and V will help you fill in any remaining meals.

Level III: Quick and Easy Recipes

The mainstay of every busy cook’s repertoire is a collection of recipes for quick dishes that practically make themselves. The trick behind these recipes is that they do more than just provide fast food. They take advantage of easily prepared, quick-cooking ingredients and minimum equipment so you are in and out of the kitchen fast. Keep a list of the easiest dishes that are family favorites. Always having the ingredients on hand for these dishes is an effective way to prevent eating out when you are running late or have an especially busy afternoon.

The Busy Mom Menu Incorporates Quick and Easy Dishes Into Dinner Menus For You

The Busy Mom Menu plans quick and easy dishes into your dinner menus so you don’t even have to think about it. Just… Print. Shop. Cook.

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Delicious Quick and Easy Recipes

Taco Bar

Taco Bar Tacos are a quick and easy meal that can be made traditional style with ground beef, or can be updated with chicken, shrimp, or even beans based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Cook and season the meat, then serve with all of the condiments taco bar style so that each person can make their own. [Read More...]

Orzo Alfredo with Peas

Orzo Alfredo with Peas Recipe This quick stove top Orzo Alfredo is perfect for nights when you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to heat up the oven. The combination of cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese creates a fantastic homemade Alfredo sauce. Calories and fat could be reduced by using milk and/or half-and-half along with some cornstarch to thicken the sauce instead of using cream. [Read More...]

Quick and Easy Baked Ziti

This Quick and Easy Baked Ziti is perfect for those nights when you might be tempted to order pizza or hit the drive thru (more quick and easy recipes like this one). Preparation is minimal and in the 30 minutes while it is baking you can prepare a salad (or enjoy a glass of wine). Using pasta sauce from a jar saves time, but if you have tomatoes on hand and would rather make your own sauce, you can substitute your preferred recipe. I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes for depth of flavor, and fresh basil will grow in a ... [Read More...]

Shrimp and Grits

Yummy Shrimp and Grits Recipe! Grits with shrimp sounded like some northern twist on a sacred southern staple when I first heard about it, but I can honestly say that this is one of my all time favorite dishes. I have to admit that I am guilty of throwing in more than the 2 ounces of cheddar that the recipe calls for, but where cheese is concerned more is almost always better. Enjoy! [Read More...]

Quick & Easy Mexican Style Soup

Menus4Moms: Quick & Easy Mexican Style Soup If you keep cooked ground beef and sautéed onions in your freezer, you can have this easy soup on the table in under 15 minutes. [Read More...]

Creamy Balsamic Meatballs

Creamy Balsamic Meatballs This super easy recipe is a quick stovetop meal with just 5 ingredients. Creamy Balsamic Meatballs: 1 Lb cooked meatballs, homemade or purchased, 2 Tbsp butter, ¼ cup onion, chopped, 1 cup heavy cream, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, Prepared egg noodles [Read More...]

Southwestern Hamburger Skillet

Southwestern Hamburger Skillet This stovetop recipe from the Frugal Mom Menu is a quick and easy way to use up leftovers and canned ingredients that you have on hand. If your family likes spicier flavors, substitute enchilada sauce for the tomato soup and add a can of green chilies or tomatoes with green chilies. Other additions that work well are corn and black olives. Although the recipe calls for kidney beans, black beans or red beans can be substituted. This is a good opportunity to use what you have on hand. Don’t limit yourself to egg noodles – elbow macaroni or spirals will ... [Read More...]

Skillet Kielbasa

Menus4Moms: Skillet Kielbasa Skillet Kielbasa is a quick and easy stovetop meal that is convenient to make. With just 4 ingredients, it’s a great alternative to the drive-thru. [Read More...]

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

We do a lot of planned leftovers at Menus4Moms, and this is one of our easy leftover ham recipes. Ham and Swiss Sliders are also a good choice for what to make with leftover ham. What some other choices? Take a look at The Ham Plan, a detailed cooking plan for preparing and freezing several hams. If you prefer to avoid cream soups, try the substitution recipes here or here. [Read More...]

Quick and Easy Burrito Casserole

Looking for a quick and easy dinner? Take advantage of prepared foods to shorten your prep time in the evening. This yummy Tex-Mex dish starts with frozen burritos (you could make your own if you have more time and want a healthier option) and adds easy finishing touches to make it more like homemade. [Read More...]

Sandy’s Easy Cashew Chicken Recipe

Easy Cashew Chicken Recipe This quick and easy recipe is a great way to use cooked chicken from the freezer (for more on this way of cutting down prep time, see the Menus4Moms Primer: Cooking for the Freezer). If you use bulk cooked chicken, prep is minimal and since everything is already cooked, it only takes 20-25 minutes from start to finish. The recipe is featured in both the Busy Mom Menu and the Frugal Mom Menu. [Read More...]

Chili Cheese Burritos

Menus4Moms: Chili Cheese Burritos These easy burritos are great for a cold night. If you have cooked ground beef in the freezer, they can be ready in about 15 minutes; if not, it still takes less than 30 minutes to get this quick meal on the table. [Read More...]

Easy Mexican Slow Cooker Chicken

Menus4Moms: Easy Mexican Slow Cooker Chicken Like almost everyone else, I look for cooking inspiration on Pinterest. When I saw this post with the title “The Easiest Dinner Ever” with some of my favorite ingredients listed, I knew I had to try it. While it isn’t the prettiest meal I’ve ever made, it was delicious and couldn’t be easier. We will definitely have it again! [Read More...]

Sweet Garlic Chicken

Menus4Moms: Sweet Garlic Chicken This quick and easy chicken dish can be made in one pan, minimizing mess. Its simple flavors go well with steamed or sauted green vegetables and a side of pasta or rice. Inspired by Easy Garlic Chicken from Food.com [Read More...]

Tortellini Zucchini Soup

I recently tried this yummy tortellini soup that surprised everyone with how good it was. I made lots extra, but even with the extra we ended up with barely enough to pack my husband a serving for lunch the next day! It was very quick and easy to prepare and could easily be made into a freezer recipe (instructions included). [Read More...]

Stovetop Chicken

Menus4Moms Stovetop Chicken This easy chicken dish is featured in our Planned Leftovers: Roast Chicken resource, which is a free bonus with either of our two dinner menu subscriptions (see links on the left). Learning how to make the best use of leftovers prevents waste and saves money. Whenever you have had chicken, particularly a rotisserie or roast chicken, pick the remaining meat off of the bones and make some broth with the bones and skin. Use the broth and leftover meat to make Stovetop Chicken, which can be adapted to whatever ingredients you have on hand. [Read More...]

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Vegetables Grilled vegetables are almost universally loved and are easy to prepare with little clean-up. Produce best suited for grilling will be firm and have a low water content (such as peppers, onions, asparagus, and mushrooms among others). Tomatoes are one of the few high water content veggies that do well on the grill. Try combining your favorite flavors and mixing up marinades for a variety of different dishes. Here are two of our favorites: [Read More...]

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe Using frozen meatballs makes Sweet and Sour Meatballs an easy “crisis meal” for nights when you don’t have time for cooking. Serve over rice with a salad or sautéed vegetables and you have a quick meal. [Read More...]

Make Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

Why is it that, even though we have faster methods of cooking our meals, they seem to have become more frenzied and hurried than years ago? Then it dawned on me — With the introduction of the microwave and the idea that meals can be prepares in 30 minutes, most people do nothing to prepare or plan their meals until 30 minutes before they are going to eat. So 30 minutes before dinner you find yourself trying to thaw something, cook it, and slap it on the table and at the same time talk and deal with tired, hungry, cranky ... [Read More...]

Stir it up! Fast and Easy Cooking

One of my favorite quick fix meal preparation methods is stir-frying. Including the prep time of chopping up meats and veggies, I can usually have a stir-fry meal on the table from start to finish in about 15 – 20 minutes. It’s just a simple process where you rapidly cook meat and vegetables in a small amount of oil. Stir-frying is similar to sautéing, except you use less oil, hotter temperatures, and usually a wok. I do most of my stir-frying in my large heavy skillet on the stovetop because I don’t have enough storage in my kitchen to keep ... [Read More...]

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