10 5-minute Dinner Ideas

By: Emilie Sennebogen

Looks can be deceiving; you can have this bird prepped and in the oven in less than 5 minutes. See more easy weeknight meals pictures.
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Steak cooked to order. Homemade pasta sauce simmering on the stove. Fresh vegetables handpicked and steamed to perfection. It sounds wonderful, but who has the time to put together a meal like these every single day? Between work, school, homework and household chores, sometimes it's a wonder that our families get fed at all. But you can pull together a balanced meal without sacrificing too much time and energy.

Anyone can pop the top off a box of macaroni and cheese and serve it up, but it's nice to get more of the food pyramid represented in your family's evening fare. Fortunately, there are all kinds of meals that are healthy and delicious that don't require a whole lot of prep time. Here are 10 ideas for dinner that should take you about five minutes or less to prepare. It takes longer than that to go through the drive-thru at Micky D's.

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10: Chicken and Vegetables

A chicken breast with a side of vegetables is not only a healthy meal for your family, it's also super easy to make. Just season your chicken breast and toss it on the grill, or if you don't feel like making the trip outside, just bake it in the oven. Veggies on the side can include steamed asparagus or broccoli, or if you have a few extra minutes, you can chop up a root vegetable medley, put it in a pan and throw it in the oven beside the chicken breast.

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9: Tuna Noodle Casserole

A classic that still resonates.
A classic that still resonates.
Hemera/Thinkstock

Another easy meal, tuna casserole basically consists of egg noodles, tuna fish and cream of mushroom soup. Toss them all in a baking dish, top with crunchy onions for extra flavor and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Use whole grain noodles to add some fiber and opt for low-fat cream of mushroom soup if anyone is watching their waistline. Don't hesitate to toss in some veggies if you have any hanging out in the fridge.

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8: Pasta

Pasta is another easy meal to make when time is an issue. And if you thought ahead and stocked your pantry with the ingredients, it will also save you a trip to the grocery store. Choose whole wheat linguine or spaghetti over regular noodles to add some fiber to the meal and a jar of healthy marinara sauce will serve up plenty of antioxidants. Brown some ground beef to add to the sauce, or better yet, opt for heart healthy lean ground turkey breast instead.

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7: Roast

That's some serious comfort food.
That's some serious comfort food.
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A busy mom knows that the secret to a delicious home cooked meal is a slow cooker. For most slow cooker recipes, all you have to do is combine the ingredients and go, and this recipe is no exception. Take a beef roast, add a can of Coca-Cola, a package of onion soup mix and a bottle of chili sauce. Let it cook all day while you're at work and serve with green beans and mashed potatoes, if you have a few extra minutes in the evening.

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6: Chicken Soup

Sure, your grandmother's chicken soup is your favorite. But it takes a full day of cooking to make the stock, plus another couple of hours to prepare the rest. That doesn't mean you have to eat it out of the can if you don't have time to make it from scratch. Pick up a rotisserie chicken, some chicken broth and a package of egg noodles. Once you pick all the chicken meat from the bone, combine it with the other ingredients in a pot on the stove. If time permits, chop up some onions and carrots and celery for extra seasoning, or just add frozen carrots if you don't have time for chopping.

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5:Pizza

What's more fun than a pizza party?
What's more fun than a pizza party?
Valueline/Thinkstock

Homemade pizza is delicious and can be cooked traditionally in your oven, or on your grill for a little charred, good smoky flavor. Grocery stores sell crispy pizza crusts ready to pop in the oven, and many even sell dough balls you can roll out yourself. Grab a jar of pizza sauce, a bag of shredded mozzarella and your toppings of choice, and you're ready to put together your five-minute masterpiece. Pre-sliced pepperoni is a quick topping for meat lovers along with fresh green peppers, mushrooms, onion or pineapple. All you need is a little knife work and you're popping the pizza in the oven in no time.

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4: Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Putting together a couple of chicken and vegetable skewers is a quick and easy way to eat healthy and eat well. Grab some boneless chicken breasts and your choice of vegetables -- squash and zucchini work well, along with some mushrooms, bell peppers and onion. Chopping the chicken and veggies and getting them on the skewer shouldn't take more than five minutes. Then, just season everything with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme, and toss it on the grill.

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3: Steak and Baked Potato

Meat and potatoes are some of the quickest and easiest foods to prep. Pick out your favorite cut of steak and pair it with a russet potato. Some people like to marinate their steak, but purists typically go with a little salt and pepper rub. Garlic, olive oil and rosemary are also nice additions to a good rub. From there, whether you grill it, sear it or bake it is up to you.

Potatoes are about as quick and easy as it gets: Just turn your oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place your potato on the rack. If you have a minute, rub the potato in olive oil or butter and sprinkle some seat salt or garlic salt on the skin. This will ensure a crispy, golden brown outer crust.

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2: Pork Chops and Applesauce

Peter Brady loved it and your family will, too. Not only is it fun to say, it's quick and easy to prepare. All your chops need in the way of prep is a little salt and pepper. Heat a pan with a little olive oil and brown your chops on both sides until they're nice and caramelized and then cook until the juices are clear. Once you remove the chops, pour a splash of apple juice and a tablespoon or so of butter in your pan for some deglazing. Pour this delectable sauce over the chops and pair with a side of applesauce.

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1: Shrimp Fajitas

Chop, cook, wrap! Sounds easy enough.
Chop, cook, wrap! Sounds easy enough.
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Shrimp fajitas are a great quick meal because you can buy the shrimp already peeled. Green peppers and onion come pre-diced in stores, but you'll want slices for your fajitas, so you'll have to do this yourself. Toss the shrimp, onions and peppers in a pan with some olive oil, chili pepper, cumin, salt and pepper, and dash of soy sauce, and cook it all over medium to high heat until the peppers and onion are soft. Top with fresh cilantro and serve in flour tortillas.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Allrecipes.com. "Fast Chicken Soup Base." Nov. 10, 2011. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/fast-chicken-soup-base/detail.aspx
  • Dunlap, Barbara. "What are the Benefits of Pasta Sauce?" livestrong.com. Nov. 10, 2011. http://www.livestrong.com/article/237004-what-are-the-benefits-of-pasta-sauce/
  • Momswhothink.com. "Easy Dinner Recipes." Nov. 10, 2011. http://www.momswhothink.com/easy-recipes/easy-dinner-recipes-week-one.html

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