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Four Foods to Have on Hand for Dinner in a Flash

Here’s a typical pre-kid meal scenario: my husband and I come home from working all day, crack open a cold one and meet in the kitchen to create a “quick-n-easy” meal inspired by whatever celebrity chef we happened to see on TV that week. Sounds ideal, right? Here’s the catch: it’s nine at night!

“How will we ever feed our (future) kids?” I groan over the oven-roasted rutabaga.

One toddler later, I’ve learned a few mama-tricks along the way that let us have a meal the whole family enjoys. Stock your freezer and fridge the right way and most of the hard work’s done! Here are a few things I make sure are always on hand for easy and tasty dinners.

Nature’s Rancher Fully Cooked Angus Meatballs

Just like the beef sold in our fresh meat case, these heat-and-eat meatballs are made from angus beef that comes from animals raised on ranches certified to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating program. Seasoned with garlic, herbs and a hint of Romano cheese, they’re great on their own – if you have a sauce-adverse little one – but even better added to jarred pasta sauce and whole wheat pasta.

You can also drop them into your favorite veggie soup (homemade or store-bought!), make Baked Meatball Subs in about 15 minutes or top pasta with "hidden" zucchini.

 Baked Meatball Subs with Fresh Mozzarella recipe Fusilli Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and "Hidden" Zucchini recipe

Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

These nuggets are really hand-cut whole breast meat pieces, with no extenders or fillers. They’re lightly breaded for a crowd-pleasing crunch. And of course, the chickens are raised without antibiotics

They’re flavorful enough to eat straight up with dipping sauce, or try adding them to fresh or frozen stir-fry veggies for a simply delicious meal.

 Honey Mustard Mucho Mango Dip recipe Sweet and Sour Chicken or Tofu and Vegetables recipe

Nature’s Rancher Uncured Hot Dogs

Not just for cookouts! Choose from beef, pork or chicken hot dogs, all without synthetic nitrates, nitrites or preservatives. They’re made with meat from animals raised on vegetarian feed and without antibiotics or added growth hormones. (Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry.)

Eat them straight up, on a whole wheat bun, add them to macaroni and cheese or make fun mini-kabobs.

Print the coupon for Nature's Rancher Uncured Hot Dogs (available online until the end of August).

Hickory Hot Dog Mac and Cheese recipe  Beef Franks Mini Kabobs recipe

Applegate Sliced Meats

Surprise! Lunch meat is a total dinner-saver. Perfect for soup and sandwich nights (my family likes pairing these turkey and emmentaler breakfast sandwiches with tomato soup for supper), or get wacky and serve a deconstructed club sandwich on a stick.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, Applegate’s sliced meats are made with meat from animals raised without antibiotics, contain no synthetic nitrates or nitrites and they’re rated to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step™ Animal Welfare rating system.

Print the coupon for Applegate Sliced Meats (available online until the end of August).

Turkey, Tomato and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches recipeClub Sandwich Kabobs recipe

What I appreciate about these little helpers is that they actually taste great and don’t have the icky stuff  we all watch out for when it comes most quick-cooking meats – no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors or flavors, no synthetic nitrates or nitrites, no hydrogenated oils and they’re from animals raised without antibiotics.

With a few dinner tricks up my sleeve, I’m able to get my kiddo fed, bathed and in bed before nine. (Now if someone could tell me the secret getting my little night owl to actually fall sleep before nine, I’d be forever in your debt.)

What do you keep on hand to help feed your hungry family in a flash?

Feeding kids is hard. Get more recipes and ideas that will help, and celebrate every tiny victory.


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Dorothy Frayer says …

This article will be quite useful for me. I attempt to eat healthily and often purchase items from the prepared foods or salad bars toward this end. However at age 74, I know that I will not be preparing complex recipes . . . especially since I'll be cooking for one and many recipes for 4 or 6 are not readily scalable to a smaller number of servings and/or if prepared in the larger quantities would not freeze well. I appreciate thee "quick" and easy recipes.

Sharron says …

So happy I took the time to read this article! I was wondering if there were any healthy hot dogs. I can't wait to get to the store and buy some!!!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SHARRON - Our products vary between stores. Check with your local store to see what brands of hot dogs they have in stock!

furballmum says …

These are wonderful suggestions. I too am in my 70's and cook for one. However I use similar products from Whole Foods that are even more beneficial for animal welfare and myself: vegan meatless balls, hickory smoked Tofurkey slices, Smart Dogs and Daiya vegan cheeses. There are so many quick meals you can make with these. My grandkids love them all as does the animal kingdom!

Roxana says …

This article would be great if it provided some vegetarian or even pescatarian options.

Italian Pasta Recipes by Italian Grandmas - Cooking with says …

So, final night time I had truly remembered to tug out some rooster breasts to defrost within the fridge ahead of time.