Salmon Pattie Over Spinach Salad

5 Quick and Versatile Back to School Dinner Ideas

The kids are back in school, and with that comes soccer practice, play dates, homework, and countless other things that get in the way of a  relaxed dinnertime routine.   If you’re like us, you need some quick dinner ideas which can be pulled together quickly, and get everyone fed in a somewhat healthy manner, that doesn’t involve pulling out frozen chicken nuggets or grabbing takeout on the way home.

Here are 5  tasty, mostly-healthy, cost effective, go-to meals–friendly to both kid and adult alike– to add to your weeknight repertoire.  Generally under 30 minutes to prepare, they rely on quick cooking ingredients and pantry and fridge staples.

1) Pantry Raid:  Mini Salmon (or Tuna) Burgers over Spinach Salad

Salmon Pattie Over Spinach Salad

Salmon Pattie Over Spinach Salad

Quick and easy, but popular with both parents and kids alike, these Mini Salmon Patties are made from canned salmon, and served over a simple spinach salad.  This version calls for canned pink boneless and skinless salmon, but canned tuna could easily be substituted if that is what you have on-hand.  And of course, you don’t have to serve these over salad.  Make them a little bigger, and you can serve in a bun like a hamburger, if that’s more your family’s style.  Go read the how to and the recipe:  Mini Salmon Burgers over Spinach Salad.

Related ideas:  Bacon Dinner SaladShrimp and Asparagus Noodle Salad

2) Breakfast for Dinner:  Broccoli & Cheese Frittata

Empty Fridge Fritatta

When your refrigerator is empty, but you do at least still have some eggs on hand, breakfast for dinner is a perfect solution!  This version relies on that freezer staple, frozen spinach, but can obviously be adapted to what you have on hand.  Kids especially seem to love eating breakfast at night… and it’s an easy and quick solution to that dinner dilemma.  Read the whole thing and get the recipe: Dinner in 15 minutes: Broccoli and Cheese Frittata

Related:  Spinach Gorgonzola Frittata

3) Use those Leftovers: Pork Enchilada Dinner

Enchiladas with leftover pulled pork

For this recipe, Niki explains how to pull together a quick, Mexican inspired enchilada dinner from leftover pork roast, plus those staples you should always have in your fridge and pantry. If you don’t have pork roast leftover, this works with chicken or beef, or even mushrooms and vegetables. Go here for the how-to and the full recipe: Pork Enchiladas.

Related: Chicken, Spinach & Rice Burritos, Overnight Pork Roast

4) A Make Ahead Favorite:  Bean and Sausage Soup

Pinto Bean and Sausage Soup

Pinto Bean and Sausage Soup

This recipe fits two criteria for quick meal solutions… you can make it ahead of time and just reheat it from the fridge (or even the freezer), or you can pull it together on the spur of the moment.  I always try to keep smoked sausage on hand, as well as broth, tomatoes, and beans.  This is one of those dishes that once you’ve mastered the basics, you can experiment endlessly for different results, based on what you happen to have on hand that evening.  This particular version features Turkey Smoked Sausage, Pinto Beans, and Chicken, and has a bit of a Cajun flair.  Go get the recipe:  Pinto Bean and Turkey Sausage Soup

Related: 30 Minute Vegetable Soup, Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage

5) Fancy in a Flash:  Shrimp and Bacon over Sour Cream Grits

Quick and Elegant Shrimp and Grits

Just because a meal is fast doesn’t mean it can’t be appealing…  this Shrimp and Grits would work equally well for dinner party as for a family dinner night.   It takes advantage of the quick cooking nature of it’s key ingredients, and while shrimp isn’t exactly a pantry staple, plan ahead to have these few simple ingredients on hand, and this meal comes together quickly and easily.  Steamed asparagus or broccoli or a green salad would make a lovely, and equally quick, side dish.  Go get the recipe: Shrimp and Bacon over Sour Cream Grits

Related: Goat Cheese, Corn, & Shrimp Wraps

Originally posted as part of VolunteerSpot’s Views on Back to School Series. VolunteerSpot’s free online sign up sheets save time, eliminate reply-all email, and make it easy for more parents to get involved at school. Register at VolunteerSpot before October 1st, 2010 using promotion code “TeachersSave” for a chance to win $100 in free classroom supplies for the teacher of your choice from ClassWish.

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