Real Food Tips: 4 Super Quick Wholesome Dinners

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When your day just doesn’t go as planned or you simply don’t feel like cooking up a storm, here are four super easy “real food” dinners that can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less. That’s faster than the pizza delivery man. And most of these meals are made from ingredients with a decent shelf life that don’t have to be defrosted or prepared in advance. So if you pick up some of the suggested “items to have on-hand” the next time you’re at the store then you’ll be all set the next time you suddenly need to whip up a super quick wholesome dinner. Please also feel free to share your easy and fast “real food” dinner ideas in the comments below.

  1. Spaghetti with Sautéed Onion/Veggies
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    Items to have on-hand:
    - Dry organic whole-grain noodles – Look for a 1 or 2-ingredient organic pasta product that contains something like “organic whole durum wheat flour” and maybe “water” (avoid “semolina” because that is the refined version of whole durum wheat)
    Jar of organic spaghetti sauce – Eden Organic “no salt added” spaghetti sauce recommended (pictured)
    Olive oil or butter – For sauteing the veggies
    Onion - I always try to have onions in the house…they have a fairly long shelf life and can be used in so many different recipes
    Fresh (or frozen) organic vegetables – Some veggies that would nicely complement this dish are zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and mushrooms
    Optional items – Freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh or dried herbs for added flavoring of the sauce
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    Simple directions:

    1. Boil pasta according to package directions. Once the water is boiling most noodles take 7 – 10 minutes.
    2. While noodles are boiling dice about a quarter of an onion. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or butter) in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the onions.
    3. While the onions are cooking dice/chop the veggies and add them to the pan with the onions. Turn the heat up to medium and sauté until veggies soften, about 5 – 7 minutes. If you are using frozen veggies heat them up according to package directions or throw them in the pan to defrost/cook.
    4. Once the veggies are tender pour the jar of spaghetti sauce into the pan. Spend a few minutes warming up the sauce and then taste test to see if it needs anything else (like salt, pepper, or herbs).
    5. Drain the noodles and divvy them up. Pour the veggies/sauce over top and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese (if using).
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  2. Scrambled Eggs with Fruit (with Optional Greens and/or Sausage)
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    Items to have on-hand:
    - Eggs – I don’t know about you, but eggs are something I always try to have stocked since there are so many uses…also local, pastured and/or organic eggs are recommended.
    Organic Butter – For cooking the eggs
    Fresh or frozen organic fruit – Any fruit will work
    A whole-grain bread-like item – Anything could complete this meal including whole-wheat sandwich bread (to make toast), whole-grain crackers (like Ak-Mak, Triscuits, or Multiseed), or possibly some homemade whole-grain muffins or biscuits if you happen to have some around
    Optional items – Cheese, jelly (if making toast), kale or spinach, local pastured sausage
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    Simple Directions:
    1. If using the optional kale or spinach puree it in the blender along with the eggs. I usually figure two eggs per person. If you don’t have greens just crack open and scramble the eggs with a fork. Be sure to season with salt and pepper.
    2. Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium-low heat and add a generous pat of butter. Once the butter has melted pour in the eggs. Let them sit for a few minutes before you start to “scramble” them.
    3. While the eggs are cooking make the sausage (if using) according to package directions and toast the bread and chop/wash the fruit. If the fruit is frozen run it under warm water to help it defrost (or blend with other ingredients to make a smoothie).
    4. Once the eggs are done all the way through sprinkle cheese on top (if using). Serve with the fruit, toast/crackers, and optional sausage.
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  3. Whole-Wheat Organic Boxed Mac & Cheese with Frozen Peas and Optional Bacon/Hot Dogs (just for the kids…or for the whole family if you are really in a pinch!)
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    Items to have on-hand:
    - Annie’s whole-wheat organic boxed macaroni and cheese (1 – 2 boxes) – There is only ONE variety of Annie’s mac and cheese that even comes close to fitting the real food bill (pictured) so be sure to analyze the options closely!
    Organic frozen peas – There should only be 1-ingredient listed on the bag…avoid frozen veggies that come with sauces/flavorings
    Optional – Organic grass-fed bacon or hot dogs
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    Simple Directions:
    1. Boil and make the macaroni by following the directions on the box.
    2. If using bacon/hot dogs cook according to package directions. When done cooking chop/dice the meat.
    3. Once the macaroni is done and the cheese sauce has been mixed in add the frozen peas (no need to defrost them). The frozen peas will simultaneously thaw while they also cool off the macaroni. Mix in the chopped bacon/hot dogs (if using).
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  4. Pizza Toast (or Bagels) with a Side of Raw Veggies
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    Items to have on-hand:
    - Whole-wheat sandwich bread (or bagels)
    Jar of organic pizza/pasta sauce: Eden Organic brand recommended
    Organic cheese: A block of mozzarella is recommended and if unopened will stay fresh for several weeks in the fridge (Avoid the pre-grated stuff because it has a powdery anti-caking additive)
    Raw veggies: Carrots, celery, cucumbers or bell peppers would all be tasty quick side items
    Optional: Freshly grated parmesan cheese (for the pizza), hummus or homemade ranch dip for the veggies
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    Simple Directions:
    1. Slice the bread/bagels and spread a tablespoon or two of the pizza/pasta sauce on the top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and heat in the oven (or toaster oven) just until the cheese melts and starts to turn brown.
    2. While the pizza toast is cooking wash/slice veggies and make dip (if using). When the pizza comes out of the oven top with grated parmesan cheese (if using).
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122 comments to Real Food Tips: 4 Super Quick Wholesome Dinners

  • KIM DANNEGGER

    Instead of canned pizza sauce, I use organic crushed tomatoes and just add my own spices to taste. I can then freeze any leftovers and have pizza sauce handy at anytime. Plus, no added sweeteners or sugars.

  • danaH

    I’m confused as to why, when you’re promoting real food, you would recommend anyone eating hotdogs? Seems completely out of alignment with your message to me.

    • Dena

      Lots of butchers/farms who have grass-fed cows and pigs make their own hot dogs, or “Longaniza” as my local farm calls them. They may not be AS good as an intact slab of meat, but many times better and healthier than most store-bought hotdogs.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      …also, hotdogs only happen on occasion in the Leake household. They are not a staple. ~Amy

  • Thanks so much for these tips. Truly easy dinners – yahoo! Another thing I keep on hand is a jar of pesto. Easy to add to pasta noodles or spread on pita with cheese for pesto pizza. Please keep the ideas coming!!

  • Leah

    I recently discovered a pasta sauce from Mezzetta. It was made from imported tomatoes and seemed safe. Maybe it wasn’t organic. Is that a factor?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Leah. It certainly doesn’t disqualify it as an option. :) It is up to you whether you choose organic or not. The only tomatoes to make the dirty dozen list this year were the cherry variety: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. Buying organic does promise certain levels of quality and no artificial colors or ingredients. ~Amy

  • That cracked me with the Annie’s, that is the one I buy and I always put peas in it! It is my daughters favorite. I have been told that it was weird to put peas in it, so thank you for making me not the only one!

  • erik

    Are you kidding me with these recipes. These are 5th grade level recipes. Why even post these. These are below basic recipes. Mac n cheese with peas & hot dogs. Really?

  • Rebecca

    Can you give some suggestions for ‘healthy’ hot dogs?

  • […] tastes SO MUCH better (at least in my opinion). To be honest, I can’t even hardly eat the boxed stuff anymore because the taste of the powdered cheese just doesn’t cut it for me like it did in […]

  • Lisa Imerman

    A couple of our easy meals are:

    Frozen soup from our freezer, when we make chili, soups, etc. we usually make a big batch and freeze it for those crazy nights when we need fast food.

    We also get quality “lunchmeats” from a local farmer and those can make quick and portable meals paired with some cheese, veggies, fruit, etc.

    Shrimp–We get quality frozen shrimp and it takes minutes to run it under water and defrost, I lay it on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Roast it for about 8 minutes. I mix up a quick cocktail sauce with organic ketchup or homemade ketchup and a bit of horseradish. Serve with steamed frozen vegetables and we can have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes.

  • Jennifer H

    We do most of these meals regularly on school nights. Another really quick option is an indoor picnic. Usually includes hummus, some kind of nuts, carrots and/or pepper strips, break that can be torn and dipped in the hummus, whatever fruit we have (apples and grapes are the favorites), and cheese cubes. If I don’t have the right kinds of bread, I will pop some popcorn in the microwave using your lunch bag trick.

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