Fast Dinner Ideas

By Jenny Harrington
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A good, filling dinner doesn't require hours of slaving over a hot stove. Take advantage of quick-cooking ingredients and prepared meal items to get dinner on the table quickly. Preparing some items ahead of time -- such as precooking meat or slicing vegetables -- makes dinner preparation even quicker in the rushed evening hours.


Potatoes are readily available year-round and cook up quickly in the microwave or on the stove top. Bake potatoes in the microwave in less than five minutes, then top with leftover or canned chili. Alternately, top with cooked broccoli and melt cheese on top. Pizza-inspired toppings such as pepperoni, tomato sauce or cooked sausage also only take a few minutes to prepare. Another option is to dice the potatoes and fry them in a skillet with beef, sausage or bacon. Add some diced onions or green peppers and melt cheese on top for a complete meal.


Use up vegetables and meat in a stir-fry. Slice vegetables thinly and add these and sliced chicken or beef to a skillet coated with oil. Cook over high heat until the meat is cooked through. Add flavoring as desired, using soy sauce, herbs and spices, stir-fry sauce or even honey. Serve the stir-fry over cooked brown or white rice or Asian-style noodles. Stir-fried meat and vegetables also make a tasty topping to otherwise boring salads.

Tortilla Meals

Tortillas are more versatile than bread when it comes to a filling supper. Fill them with beans and cheese for quick burritos. Make fajitas by cooking strips of chicken or beef, peppers and onions, then placing this filling inside the tortilla with a bit of cheddar cheese. Fill tortillas with ground beef flavored with a bit of chili powder, diced tomatoes, lettuce and cheese for soft tacos. For a 10-minute oven-baked meal, lay a tortilla on a baking sheet, top with cheese, cooked meat and vegetables as desired, then place a second tortilla on top. Bake just long enough to melt the cheese, then cut the quesadilla into fourths before serving.

Jazzed-Up Box Macaroni and Cheese

Boxes of macaroni cheese cook up quickly, but they are often regulated to side-dish status. Turn them into a meal by adding cooked chicken or ground beef, diced vegetables and a bit of tomato sauce. Macaroni and cheese dinners also make a quickly-prepared base for a modified tuna casserole. Add a can of tuna, peas and some cubed cheddar cheese to the prepared macaroni and cheese. Top any macaroni dinner with crushed potato chips or bread crumbs to add a bit of texture to the finished meal.