Quick and Easy Recipes (Secrets of a Busy Cook)

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Secrets of a Busy Cook: Cooking For the FreezerSecrets of a Busy Cook: Planned LeftoversSecrets of a Busy Cook: Quick and Easy RecipesSecrets of a Busy Cook: Fast IngredientsSecrets of a Busy Cook: Tools and TechniquesImage 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.

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Delicious Quick and Easy Recipes

Pasta with Parmesan and Lemon Sauce

Pasta with Parmesan and Lemon Sauce Lemon and garlic add zest to this easy stovetop pasta dish. Pasta with Parmesan and Lemon Sauce is a delicious vegetarian dinner that is perfect for hot summer evenings when you need something quick that doesn’t heat the kitchen. [Read More...]

Chili Cheese Hot Dogs

Chili Cheese Hot Dogs Homemade hot dog chili makes this summer favorite special. [Read More...]

Mexican Ravioli

Mexican Ravioli Quick fix meals are a huge help when it seems like it would be easier to order pizza or hit the drive-thru on the way home. With only 5 ingredients, Mexican Ravioli is a stovetop recipe that is ready in 20 minutes, so skip the drive-thru and serve up a home-cooked meal. [Read More...]

Simple Salisbury Steak

Simple Salisbury Steak Simple comfort food that is easy to make. The patties can be prepared and frozen, making this an easy way to double or triple the recipe and stock your freezer for quick meals. [Read More...]

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi This quick and easy shrimp dish has a flavorful and rich garlic butter sauce and is served over hot pasta. [Read More...]

One Pot Tomato Spinach Pasta

One Pot Tomato Spinach Pasta Fusilli pasta with spinach, tomatoes, and onions is an easy summer recipe that doesn’t heat up the oven. Prepared in one pot on the stovetop, the delicious pasta dish is ready in about 30 minutes. [Read More...]

Meatball Stroganoff over Egg Noodles

Meatball Stroganoff over Egg Noodles This easy stovetop meal has a traditional Stroganoff flavor and can be on the table in under 30 minutes. [Read More...]

Beef Stir Fry

Beef Stir Fry This quick stovetop beef stir fry is easy to make with no need for sides other than the rice it is served on. [Read More...]

Smoked Sausage Corn Chowder

Smoked Sausage Corn Chowder Serve this quick and easy sausage corn chowder with crusty bread for dipping. [Read More...]

30 Minute Taco Macaroni

30 Minute Taco Macaroni 30 Minute Taco Macaroni is a quick and easy stovetop meal that is even easier if you keep taco-seasoned cooked ground beef in the freezer. [Read More...]

Chicken Salad Croissants

Chicken Salad Croissants Chicken salad is a great way to use leftover chicken from rotisserie chicken from the store or homemade roast chicken. Celery gives this tasty chicken salad a nice crunch, and it has just the right amount of seasoning. [Read More...]

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches This is a delicious and easy way to use use leftover roast beef. [Read More...]

Easy Cheeseburger Pie

Easy Cheeseburger Pie Easy Cheeseburger Pie is an easy one dish meal that can be adjusted to a variety of flavors. Add Montreal Steak Seasoning for a punch of garlic and black pepper, or serve it with salsa, sour cream, and fresh cilantro for a southwestern flavor. I like to play around with various cheese for variety; Monterey Jack or Irish cheddar would give completely different flavors. [Read More...]

Broccoli & Fettuccine Alfredo

Broccoli & Fettuccine Alfredo For nights when you have no time for dinner and very little in the way of ingredients on hand, prepared sauces can be a lifesaver, but with fresh ingredients the homemade version is worth the effort.  You can make homemade Alfredo sauce and use fresh broccoli for a quick and easy Broccoli & Fettuccine Alfredo dinner. [Read More...]

Turkey Caprese Sandwiches

Turkey Caprese Sandwiches You can use either deli sliced turkey or roast turkey slices in this easy and delicious turkey caprese sandwich. One of the best ways you can save money on groceries is to shop when food is on sale, and you can freeze turkey roasts, whole turkeys, and turkey breasts as well as deli turkey slices. [Read More...]

Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole This easy recipe can be made with either chicken or tuna and takes very little prep time. If you prefer, you can make it vegetarian but adding more vegetables and omitting the meat altogether. [Read More...]

Cowboy Hot Dogs

Cowboy Hot Dogs With sautéed onions and shredded cheddar cheese, these hot dogs will please grown ups while leaving the option for kids to eat them however they prefer. [Read More...]

30 Minute Hash Brown Potato Soup

30 Minute Hash Brown Potato Soup Hash Brown Potato Soup is so quick and easy that it is one of my “crisis meals”—meals that can be made in 20-30 minutes with shelf-stable (or freezer) ingredients that I keep on hand. [Read More...]

Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice This quick stovetop Black Beans and Rice can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice. Adjust the spices to your taste by using salsa that is hot or mild, or add a chopped jalapeno to the pepper and onion. [Read More...]

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup Soup with a sandwich is often relegated to lunch fare, but it makes an easy and delicious supper when you are short on time. I’m a big fan of sandwich makers to make a quick meal, and I used mine to make grilled cheese sandwiches to serve with this creamy soup. [Read More...]

Cheddary Spirals with Broccoli

Cheddary Spirals with Broccoli This stovetop dish can be easily adapted to use what you have on hand; the basic recipe can be used in any number of unique combinations. Substitute any pasta for fusilli, any vegetable or vegetable mix for broccoli, add chicken, or experiment with various cheeses. Omit the lemon juice if your combination of vegetables and cheese doesn’t work well with the citrus flavor, and adjust the cooking time of the pasta and vegetables as needed. [Read More...]

Beef with Broccoli

Beef with Broccoli This quick stir fry is a perfect meal to make with leftover London broil, flank steak, skirt steak, or other firm cut of roast. Planned leftovers are a great way to cut your prep time while reducing food waste. [Read More...]

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs This quick and easy stovetop meal uses few ingredients and goes from prep to table in 20 minutes. You can buy frozen meatballs from the grocery store, or if you prefer to make your own, we have a bulk meatball recipe that is perfect for cooking ahead. [Read More...]

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 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...]

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits 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

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 prepared with just 5 ingredients: cooked meatballs, butter, onion, heavy cream, and balsamic vinegar. Serve over egg noodles and add a salad for a full meal. [Read More...]

Southwestern Hamburger Skillet

Southwestern Hamburger Skillet This southwestern style 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. [Read More...]

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Spice up boxed jambalaya with extra ingredients and taste while still saving time. Using chopped cooked chicken, onions, and peppers from the freezer and a box mix puts Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya on the table in less than 30 minutes. [Read More...]

Skillet Kielbasa

Skillet Kielbasa Four ingredients pack a flavorful punch in this quick and simple Skillet Kielbasa. [Read More...]

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

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

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

Sandy's 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

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...]

Sweet Garlic Chicken

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

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

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 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...]

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole I had to laugh when I started to prepare this post and realized that I served the same green beans with the Pork Scallopini – guess that tells you how much we like them and how often we have them! Here is a little tutorial for one of our favorite casseroles, Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole, along with Acorn Squash and of course the ever-popular Seasoned Green Beans. [Read More...]

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