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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125 comments to Real Food Tips: 4 Super Quick Wholesome Dinners

  • I really appreciate your blog – great info!

    I was wondering… Would you please consider allowing a full feed to Google Reader, rather than a partial feed? I subscribe in Google Reader because I don’t have time to click over to all of the blogs I follow. Partial feeds really defeat that. And, to be honest, if the topic doesn’t grab me right off, I often don’t click over and read the post. But I’d like to read them all!

    Thanks!

  • Great ideas, thank you! Easy too!

  • Sarah

    As a homeschooling mom of four boys ages 10-3 and a fifth boy coming in August this post is just what I need. Thanks so much. Another go to in our house is French Pancakes. So easy!
    8 eggs
    2 cup milk (any type works – soy, coconut, almond etc.)
    2 cup flour (we grind our own at home, whole wheat works great!) preheat oven to 425
    place 1 stick of butter in a 13x9x2 baking dish. Put the baking dish in the oven while it preheats to melt the butter
    while oven is preheating mix all three ingredients well. sometimes we add cinnamon, nutmeg or any other spices that sound good.
    once the oven has preheated and butter has melted pour the batter into the baking dish and put it back in the oven.
    It will need to bake for about 15-20 minutes maybe longer. Your meal is ready when the center is set and the sides are starting to brown. (The butter starts to brown nicely too.)
    We love this with maple syrup, jam, honey or fresh fruit on top! We have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    We are big fans of Real Food! Thanks for all of your hard work!

    • Sadie

      Another good, quick, high protein pancake recipe is:

      8 eggs
      2 c. cottage cheese
      1 c. oatmeal
      1-2 tsp vanilla
      cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
      Blend it all up in a blender, and cook on a griddle

    • April

      I have King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. Would I need any baking soda or salt for this french pancake recipe? I am assuming the flour is “all purpose” which usually calls for soda and salt for it to “rise.”

  • Susanne

    This is excellent. Just yesterday, I found myself too tired to cook anything. Will add this to my grocery list this week. Thank you!

  • We like to do our pizzas on a pita cut in half the circular way (instead of like a pocket). It’s fast and easy! I also got my kids “face plates” that have an undecorated face on them. They are great for giving my kids a dinner of very random assortment of fruits and veggies. They kids use the food to decorate the plate and don’t notice the strange combinations I give them. :)

  • Love the pizza bagels for the kids. I buy lots of Eden products but haven’t tried the pizza sauce–thanks for the recommendation!

    And even for the grownups we sometimes do scrambled eggs for dinner. I like to dress them up with some of this smashed-herb cream cheese (from http://www.101cookbooks.com) and maybe a little smoked salmon: http://emmycooks.com/2012/03/03/smoked-salmon-frittata-with-spinach-and-herbed-cream-cheese/

    And THIS is my current favorite quick meal if you are an anchovy fan (and even if you think you aren’t!), made with whole wheat pasta and possibly a fried egg on top: http://emmycooks.com/2012/02/14/pasta-with-garlic-anchovies-chili-and-breadcrumbs/

  • JCo

    I have a question about your photos of the food – is that a portion that you would eat or a portion size for your kids? Portions have become so large here in the USA that I have no idea what is a reasonable portion anymore. In general, I think we all overeat.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Good question! The egg picture is an adult portion…although one of us might go back for a little more of our favorite item. The pizza toast was actually a picture I had from a long time…not at all enough food for my kids or for us! That picture is almost like an appetizer, but at least it shows what the pizza toast would look like. Real food is more filling than the empty calorie stuff though (like refined grains) so you don’t need as much to fill up.

  • Ryder

    Breakfast is always a go to quick meal in my house any time of the day. Also short cut rice and beans: Success (par boiled) brown rice, canned beans, canned tomatoes (onions, peppers, garlic, celery, etc – all optional and depends on what you have on hand and what needs to be used up) throw it all in a skillet and it cooks up in about 20-25 minutes. Also quesadillas.

  • Kat

    I also use whole-wheat tortillas as pizza crust when I’m in a pinch! Pull one out of the freezer, bake it for a few minutes so it gets crunchy, then add a thin layer of sauce and some cheese and veggies. Super yummy every time! :)

    • We do this, but make ‘Pizzadilla’s’….either folding over the tortilla, or using two to make a round sandwich. Go light on the sauce (so it doesn’t slop when you flip it) and heavy on the cheese, quick to cook up in a pan on the stove, or bake a whole bunch at once. We will make them to use up leftover meats, vegge’s, and spaghetti sauce.

  • Ashley

    This is great! I’d love to see more posts like this!

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