5 Fast Dinners Without Food Shopping

Photo: An enchilada casserole, hot out of the oven.
Ed OKeefe/ABC News

It's 5 p.m. and what am I going to feed these people? Been there, done that. How many times have you stood in the middle of the kitchen, stared at the clock, it's dinner time and you've done nothing about it–including shop.

I've got simple solutions to a last-minute dinner. Here are five quick meals using stuff that you probably have in your pantry and fridge. The best part is they are all simple and kid-friendly.

Taco Night

The easiest way to do this is to put each ingredient in a separate bowl and place in the center of the table. Take a can of black beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas or whatever is available. Drain and rinse. Finely chop veggies that are in the fridge — lettuce, cucumber, red bell peppers, onion, green beans, celery, radishes, whatever. Put in separate bowls, grab whatever cheese you have in the fridge – cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey jack, parmesan. Again whatever. If you have ground chicken, turkey or lean beef in the freezer, that's great. Just defrost and saute with a little dried cumin, cilantro, chili powder. Make a quick salsa by taking some of the veggies you just chopped, squeeze in some lime juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss in some garlic and drizzle some tomato juice or sauce. Take hard or soft corn tortillas and place in center of the table. Ole!

Breakfast for Dinner

My two boys love this dinner and this will very likely be your kids' favorite. Call it "Opposite Day." Make breakfast for dinner, and let them have dinner for breakfast on another day. And there's another word for that: LEFTOVERS!

A few suggestions:
1. Tossed salad and scrambled eggs (just like in the tune from "Fraiser"). Add a slice of whole grain toast or potatoes and dinner is served!
2. Pancakes or waffles… grate in some apples, pears or add chopped banana or raisins – serve with a fresh fruit smoothie
3. Yogurt parfait…low fat yogurt, fresh fruit, unsweetened cereal, chopped nuts or any combination you like.
4. Omelettes with your favorite fillings, hashed sweet potatoes and fresh fruit.

Casseroles

Combine, pour in pan and bake…can't get easier than that! Use leftover or fresh cooked whole grain pasta (takes just a few minutes to boil up). Stir in canned tuna or salmon, leftover chicken or another lean protein. Then, add in a little grated cheese, ricotta or cottage cheese, an egg or two if you fancy and any frozen or fresh veggie on hand. Top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Bon appetit!

All-in-One Salads

Make a huge salad with whatever veggies you have. Toss with your favorite dressing or make a quick one with 2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar (balsamic, red wine, rice wine, cider, any kind), Dijon mustard, and dried spices. Top with leftover protein, canned salmon or tuna, beans, rotisserie chicken pieces, tempeh, tofu, edamame, etc. and serve with a few whole grain crackers.

Pizza

Start by toasting whole grain English muffins, bread or pitas, and top with homemade or jarred tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, shredded part skim mozzarella, and basil or your favorite fresh herbs. Top it off with some veggies and you've got yourself a pizza!

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