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10 Easy Dinners With Shortcut Ingredients

Your family will love these easy dinner recipes

Jackie Freeman

Published on: August 02, 2023

The Recipe Critic

Gathering around the table for a home-cooked meal is ideal, but not always a reality, especially during the busy back-to-school season. Sometimes just getting dinner on the table (and getting everyone gathered around it) can be a struggle. Make tonight’s meal a little speedier and easier by combining a few ready-made items with fresh ingredients, so you can get these easy family dinners on the table at lightning speed. 

1. Play with pizza dough 

Somewhere between a pizza and a sandwich lies the stromboli. Using store-bought pizza dough, you can easily whip up a stromboli. This quick and easy stromboli from The Recipe Critic uses simple toppings and will have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. 

2. Rotisserie chicken meals

One of the best things about rotisserie chicken is that you can often turn it into two meals. After you enjoy it the first night as is, use whatever is leftover to make chicken fried rice with pre-cooked rice and a handful of frozen peas and carrots. 

3. Veggie burger stew

Yes, you can slap veggie burgers between a bun and call it dinner. Or, you can toss them in a slow cooker with a few cans of beans, spices and veggies and make a batch of Marty’s Bean Burger Chili that will pair perfectly with a side of cornbread or tortilla chips. 

4. Hearty soup

Packed with protein, incorporating chickpeas into a meal is as easy as getting out the can opener. Warm your body and your soul on cold school nights with an easy-to-prepare, one-pot vegan chickpea noodle soup

5. Meatball soup

Meatballs don’t just have to go with spaghetti (though, we admit, they are delicious that way). Toss them into your slow cooker, along with a few vegetables, canned tomatoes and some beef broth for a slow cooker Italian meatball soup. Serve it with a few slices of crusty bread for sopping up the broth. 

6. Potstickers 

Using a handful of your (or your kids’) favorite vegetables, whip up a potsticker stir fry for a dinner that’s ready in less than 20 minutes. It’s relatively healthy, super colorful, and best of all…delicious. 

7. Fish stick surprise

With a jar of marinara sauce, a handful of cheese and some frozen broccoli, you can turn ordinary fish sticks into fish sticks marinara. It’s a combination of your kids’ favorite ingredients, all baked into one easy casserole. 

8. English muffin pizza

Move aside bagels, bread and pita! And say hello to English muffins! Keep it simple and make English muffin pizzas with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your favorite toppings (like pepperoni), or give it a twist and make mini Hawaiian pizzas with ham and pineapple. 

9. Breakfast for dinner

Though we often think of eating hash browns for breakfast, you can easily add them to dinner, as in this chicken and chiles casserole. This is a great way to use any leftover chicken you have on hand, or swap it out with cooked turkey or ham. 

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