Quick Dinners for Busy Moms

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I don’t know about y’all, but fall is a busy time for my family. We have school starting, soccer starting, church activities starting back up, plus our regular daily things. Dinner can end up suffering because of all the activity because we are so busy running. I hope to ease this stressful time by offering some quick and easy meals that your family is sure to love.

One important key factor is meal planning. You can’t fly by the seat of your pants, you really do need a plan. It’s not that hard either. While you’re sitting at your kid’s soccer practice, you can do your menu planning. I like to plan for two weeks at a time, based on my husband’s paychecks. While your menu plan, start your grocery list at the same time. If you KNOW you have something, write it down anyway. I have thought I had plenty of something only to find out TOO LATE that I didn’t have as much as I thought if I even had any at all. Just the other night, I ran out of ketchup when I went to make sloppy joes, all because I didn’t check how much was left when I planned my menu! You don’t have to be at home in your kitchen to menu plan and make your grocery list.

Now, when you get home and have time, go down your shopping list and mark off what you have or don’t need more of. It’s fun to actually watch your list shrink before you even get to the store. Then, if you need to look up the recipes for the meals you planned, do that and write down any ingredients you need from those. We usually keep a running list on the fridge so when we run out of things, we add them to that list so the next time we make a list we don’t forget those items.

Ok, so now you have your grocery list, and your menu, right?

When we get to the point we are busy every night of the week, I try to be as creative as possible. There is nothing wrong with doing sandwiches for dinner, although I personally wouldn’t want them every night of the week. Some quick and easy meal ideas are:

Soup (this is great, especially when it starts to cool off outside)

Any crockpot recipes (crockpots are wonderful things. We have two of them!)

Sandwiches (I would recommend splurging and getting good deli meat, not the prepackaged lunchmeat if you are going to do this. Maybe buy some special buns instead of using plain old sandwich bread, to dress it up a bit…. and condiments… pickles, chips, dip, etc. Don’t forget, you can also make BLT’s and sloppy joes!)

Spaghetti (is pretty quick and easy to make. Especially if you aren’t hung up on making your own sauce. My kids actually prefer just butter and cheese on their s’ghetti, so that makes it even easier. If you have to have red sauce, open a jar, add some Italian seasoning and voila! For an extra special touch, if you have some pre-cooked sausage, add that to the sauce. Sometimes, I will buy sausage, cook it up and freeze it in one cup measurements to add to meals. Just remember to take it out in the morning so it is thawed!!)

Make-ahead meals (for those of you who do OAMC, you may have meals cooked and frozen you can thaw during the day and just heat up. If you want to spend a day cooking, this is a good way to prepare some homecooked meals to have on hand for those nights you just don’t know what else to do!)

Salmon Casserole

Makes 4 Servings

A quick, easy, and budget-conscious recipe. Mashed potato lovers will enjoy this casserole!


  • 1 can (14 and 3/4 ounces) salmon, bones and skin removed
  • 1 can (10 and 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried dillweed
  • 1 Tbsp. Finely minced onion (I use dried minced onion)
  • 6 medium-size potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use instant mashed potatoes)
  • 5 saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Drain the salmon and flake into a greased shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread the soup over the salmon. Sprinkle with the dillweed and minced onion. Pile mounds of mashed potatoes over the soup. Sprinkle with the crumbled crackers and drizzle with the melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot.

The above recipe takes a few minutes to whip together, esp if you use instant potatoes, and only 25 minutes to cook!!

Stove Top Tamale Pie


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) kidney beans, undrained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package (1.25 ounces) McCormick’s Taco Seasoning
  • 1 package (8 ounces) corn muffin mix
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion

In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Drain.

Stir in tomato sauce, beans, water, and taco seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Prepare corn muffin mix according to package directions. Drop small spoonfuls of muffin batter over meat mixture in a skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 15-17 minutes or until cornbread is done.

Top with cheese and green onion. Cover and cook over low heat until cheese melts.

I prepared the muffin mix while the beef was browning and added the cup of cheese to the muffin mix, and mixed it all together. Then while I finished the beef mixture, the muffin mix was able to sit for a few minutes for a maximum crown.

I did not cook the pie on the stovetop either. I put the meat mixture in a glass dish, and then spooned the muffin mix on top of it and baked it per the directions on the muffin mix box. This kept the muffin from getting too moist from cooking it on top of the stove.

Instead of regular tomato sauce, I used Mexican Style Tomato sauce which is spicy hot. That added a yummy hot to the meal.

An additional time-saver would be if you had precooked hamburger meat to use instead of cooking it right then.

20-Minute Chicken Parmesan


  • 4 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1-3/4 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Place chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Dip chicken in egg, and dredge in breadcrumbs. Cook chicken in butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Spoon spaghetti sauce over chicken; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses and parsley; cover and simmer 5 additional minutes or until cheeses melt.

This recipe is not only delicious, but I got it from Cookinglight.com so it is also healthy!

Texas Style Sloppy Joes


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pkg. McCormicks Sloppy Joes Seasoning
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 can (4 ounces) green chilies, chopped
  • 8 hamburger rolls or flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese optional

In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat. Add sloppy joes seasoning mix, pinto beans, tomato sauce, ketchup, and chiles. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Serve over hamburger rolls or place 3 tablespoons mixture along the center of 8 warmed flour tortillas; garnish with shredded cheese, if desired. Fold over edges of tortillas. I found this recipe on the McCormick’s website!

Remember I mentioned sloppy joes at the beginning of this article? This is a great twist on the traditional sloppy joes out there, and it is so easy to throw together and make. Especially if you have some pre-cooked hamburger!

As you can tell, there are some benefits to precooking your meats (hamburger & sausage) but that is totally up to you and the amount of time you have.

Concerned about veggies? Afraid your kids aren’t getting enough? Then buy fresh cut veggies to keep on hand for them to snack on or eat with dinner. My kids like raw carrots and broccoli and cauliflower. You can also get celery and give them peanut butter and celery sticks as a dessert! This takes the time out of you cooking a side dish of veggies and the kids are still getting what is good for them!

And don’t forget, on these busy nights when you are trying to save time, use paper/styrofoam plates and plastic cups etc. so that you don’t have as many dishes to clean up!!

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