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To all Mommies and Daddies out there, I am right there with you! No matter how many children we have, we’re all busy enough with life to not spend hours cooking each week. Now… kids and toddlers come in a variety of tastes and we’ve all been there… Little Tommy liked eggs on Monday and won’t eat them Tuesday… They say the days are long but the years are short. Agreed… but those days can be LONG long.
Since Christian and I don’t do take-out, we cook, and it needs to be quick, healthy, and a winner. Read here about cooking only one meal for the entire family.
Those are my 10 favorite Mommy Go-To’s at dinner time when we are pressed for time – loved by everyone, healthy-ish, and ready in less than 10 minutes. You should have most ingredients readily available – I seem to keep those stocked in my fridge or pantry at all times.
1 – Scrambled Eggs
Kids generally love eggs and what I like about scrambled eggs/omelets is that I can hide a bunch of healthy ingredients in them. I open the fridge and grab a couple of veggies which I cut into small cubes (zucchini, yellow squash, mushroom, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes work well). I cook them in coconut oil and once they’re soft and starting to brown, I pour my egg mixture on top. I count 1 or 2 eggs per child based on their age, and 3 for adults. I add either whole milk or heavy cream (for a creamier variant), some garlic salt and a few herbs, and pour on top of the veggies. Keep on stirring until cooked to your desired consistency.
2 – 5-Minute Egg
This one is a bit controversial in the U.S., but a go-to meal for kids in Europe, where I grew up. Submerge 1 or 2 eggs per person in water in a saucepan. I own one of those egg timers to control the cooking and it never fails me. Once the color change reaches Soft (about 5 minutes), remove the eggs from the saucepan and let them cool under iced water to stop the cooking. While boiling the eggs, toast some bread, cut it into long pieces and spread butter on them. Once the eggs are ready, put them in a boiled egg holder, and give everyone 1 egg and 4 or 5 bread stripes. Cut the top of the egg off and let everyone dip their bread in the running yolk. Spoon off the cooked egg white with a spoon. A typical 5-minute egg meal will include frozen spinach, cooked with a bit of cream and garlic salt.
Note: Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness
3 – Cream-Based Pasta Sauce
My kids, like many, LOVE pasta. In all transparency, I love pasta too.. and they make for a quick meal. I have 2 sorts of sauces I prepare, my favorite being the cream-based. While you boil the pasta per the package directions, gather a couple of veggies from the fridge, cut into small cubes, and cook in a large pan with coconut oil (or any other oil!) and the spices of your choice (at a minimum, I add garlic, garlic salt, and a bit of pepper). When you feel that your veggies are 3/4 done, add a pound of ground turkey or beef. Keep on medium heat until everything is nicely cooked. Add heavy cream to make enough sauce for the amount of pasta you are preparing. My secret, and last, ingredient, is a spoonful of Knorr chicken-flavored bouillon powder. Let thicken a couple of minutes and add your cooked pasta! Serve immediately and add shredded cheese if wished.
Tip: if you don’t have veggies or lack the meat, one of my all-time favorite variants is to cut 2 red onions in stripes (white onions will work too) and follow the same recipe: fry onions, season, add cream, add bouillon powder, let thicken, add pasta!
4 – Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce
Christian tends to prefer red sauces to the creamy ones. I follow the same steps as for the cream-based sauce above, but instead of the cream and bouillon, I substitute for a store-purchased tomato sauce. Follow those steps: cut up veggies and fry, add half a can of corn and some garlic, once 3/4 cooked, add the meat. Finally pour the store-bought tomato sauce and add the cooked pasta. This one will never disappoint hungry stomachs!
5 – Salad
Salad was not our kids’ favorites but it grew on them. I will give you a few tips to make this healthy and quick dinner, a kids’ favorite! You will want to make it colorful, flavorful, and add different consistencies to keep it interesting. Slice and rinse your salad. Open your fridge and pantry and add everything you can find. This is what we use at a bare minimum: sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, half a can of corn, half a can of beans or chick peas (can be lima beans, black beans, barbecue beans, white beans… all variants are great and will give a slightly different twist to your salad!), bacon pieces, croutons, and cut-up lunch meat. Based on what is in our fridge, we add leftovers – do you have leftover rice, quinoa, pasta, meat, etc.? Everything can go in the salad! Our kids’ favorite is hard-boiled eggs! Add that in too! Make your own salad dressing by adding 3 quick ingredients for a sure-to-please dressing: olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and a spoon of Knorr chicken bouillon powder!
6 – Pain Perdu (“Lost Bread” in French)
This one is by no means healthy. But it is super yummy, very quick, and I’m sure you have all ingredients in your fridge. It is the French version of French Toast! In one bowl, mix in 500mL of whole milk with 100g of sugar and some cinnamon (if wished). In a second bowl, beat 3 or 4 eggs. Take out sliced bread (if you have a sweet white bread (brioche), use that. We normally only have wheat or whole grain, and that works too. Dip each slice in the milk mixture, then dip straight into the beaten eggs, and fry on both sides in the pre-heated pan with butter. Once both sides are nice and golden, eat with your favorite topping – sugar, Nutella, jam…
Tip: Pain Perdu is an old French dish, where women would use old bread, too hard to eat when they did not want to waste it by throwing it away. If you have old bread laying around, or like us, the ends of sandwich bread that no one eats… use those! The dipping in milk was the first step to soften the old bread! Neat concept, and yummy at it!
7 – Bread
We simply call it Bread… When everything else fails or when we get home late and need to have food ready instantly, we take out sandwich bread, toast it, and top with butter, lunch meat, sliced cheese, jam, etc. This won’t be your healthiest meal but it is instantly ready and serves the purpose of filling hungry bellies. Whole grain bread works best!
8 – Ratatouille
This one is so easy and yummy, it is one of my favorite meals to prepare. You can also make a huge batch on Sundays and pack the leftovers for week-day lunches. I always start by opening up my fridge and picking as many veggies as I can find. At a minimum, I include: zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, mushroom, carrots, corn, onion, and garlic. When I have them in my fridge, I like to add tomatoes and peppers (all colors). Cut everything into cubes or slices, and put in a pre-heated pan with coconut oil (I guess olive oil is the correct way to prepare ratatouille, but I cook everything in coconut oil – any oil will work). If you’re in a rush, add all veggies at once. I prefer to start with the carrots and to let them cook while I slice the other veggies – they take longer to cook and soften. Make sure to season. I love adding some all-purpose seasoning, garlic salt and garlic pepper. Once all veggies are cooked, pour in a jar of store-bought tomato sauce (I love the marinara one to add a taste of meat). Let it cook a little, and voilà! Bon appétit!
9 – Breakfast Cereals
I have fond memories of this one as a child. When we’d get home late, or after a trip when the fridge was empty, my mom always had some milk laying around and she’d take out our morning cereals for dinner! Those are some of my favorite memories as a child and no one ever said no to cereals!
10 – Rice Pan
This is one of Christian’s favorite dishes to prepare. This is his version of the dish and he mostly uses frozen ingredients to speed up the process. Boil or unfreeze brown rice – Bird’s Eye has wonderful frozen bags of brown rice that can be ready in a few minutes! Microwave frozen veggies (if you prefer fresh veggies, slice and fry). Brown some ground meat in a pan, add the cooked veggies and the rice. Add a store-bought sauce such as Indian General Tso or Korean Bulgogi, cook a little longer to caramelize and serve up!
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