Back to School: What’s for Dinner?

| August 31, 2012 | 6 Comments

Sometimes, the very idea of making dinner is akin to torture. Between the activities, school, work and life, there are nights where the big dinner decision doesn’t happen until the absolute last minute. It ends up being a very stressful thing, which is never good. Fortunately, there are some great meals that can be whipped up in no time.

The key to last minute cooking is to have staples on hand to whip up fast dinners. For me, that includes plenty of pasta, precooked sausage, precooked and frozen shrimp, a hard Italian cheese like romano, good olive oil, garlic and quick-cooking grains like quinoa. Also, canned beans and tomatoes. As for side dishes, when I am in a hurry I will often turn to raw sides such as tossed salads, bell pepper slices, cubed fruit and tomato salads.

I’ve pulled together a bunch of recipes as resources for when you just don’t know what to make. But before I share those, one of my absolutely favorite fast dinners is simple as can be: an egg over easy with whole grain toast and fruit. For my kids, the egg usually gets scrambled too … but they enjoy it as well. Other than that, grilled cheese sandwiches, paninis and quick pastas are also really great options for when all the schedules seem to be conspiring against you.

How will you answer the dreaded ‘what’s for dinner?’ question? Here are some quick and easy dinner ideas.

20 Ideas for Quick and Easy Dinners

These quick ideas can be made in under a half-hour or so, which makes them perfect for busy nights. And since most need only a few ingredients, it won’t take much to whip them up. Ready?

5 Make-Ahead Slow Cooker Recipes


There’s something truly comforting about knowing you won’t have to make dinner when you get home. That’s where slow cooker recipes come into play. These easy recipes are designed to be made ahead of time and cook low and slow until dinner. It makes things super easy.

10 More Slow Cooker Recipes from Around the Web

Hillshire Farms Giveaway

Premade sausage is a staple of my last-minute dinner survival plan. I always have it on hand and use it for everything from breakfast for dinner to sandwiches. And after recently trying Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations sausage, I’ve been enjoying the creative flavors. Now, you can too. Hillshire Farm has generously offered three coupons for free sausage for one lucky Sarah’s Cucina Bella reader.

Giveaway closed. Congrats to commenter #5, Krizza.

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Disclosure: This is NOT a compensated post. However, Hillshire Farm is providing the item for giveaway and also provided me with free product that I used to create a recipe. All opinions are my own.

Category: Back to School

About the Author ()

Sarah Walker Caron is a freelance writer, editor and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in countless online and print publications including iVillage, BELLA NYC Magazine, Yum for Kids magazine and more. She lives in Connecticut with her two kids, two beagles and husband.

Comments (6)

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  1. Kate says:

    We use a lot of slowcooker meals – at least once a week.

  2. Sarah, what a great list! Thanks so much for including some of my recipes. I’ve been using my slow cooker all summer (to keep the heat down in the kitchen), and having fun with lots of recipes I’ll be able to use for easy dinners all year long.

  3. Deborah says:

    I’m all about the easy, go-to recipes – especially lately!! Pasta is definitely a go-to – and when I’m really rushed, just simply dressed with a little butter and parmesan cheese. Thanks for the link-up, as well!

  4. Gina says:

    I am excited to try these recipes! We have more after school activities than ever this year, so I am really having to rethink dinner. One of my favorite go-to recipes is taco soup. I usually have the ingredients on hand, there is no chopping involved, and I can cook it on the stove top or in the slow cooker and it always turns out great! One pot meals make clean up quick and easy too.

  5. Krizza says:

    I love your ideas for dinner! Glad I saw this blog. Everyday I think of what’s for dinner. I love cooking and always looking for new recipes! Mostly I cook pasta for dinne. I toss in anything I can think of that will compliment the dish. Lasagna with a lot of ricotta cheese and topped with sausage or hotdog and meatballs is what my family always request. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Sarah W. Caron says:

      Congratulations, Krizza! The Random Number Generator selected comment #5 as the winner (that’s you!). I’ll be contacting you via email.

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