Today our Busy Girl meal series continues with the final meal of the day: dinner. No matter how busy life gets, we believe that eating healthy and delicious food is of the utmost importance. We’ve covered what to make for breakfast and lunch if you’re short on time, but dinner can be the biggest challenge of all for the girl-on-the-go.
I personally love to cook, but the truth is that sometimes life just gets in the way. And while nothing compares to a home-cooked meal, less time in the kitchen means more time for writing and crafting for LaurenConrad.com (not to mention finding time to stay fit and hang out with friends.) Luckily, I have a few go-to dinner recipes for when things get hectic. They taste good, they’re good for you, and most importantly they won’t leave you slaving over a hot stove for hours during the busy workweek. Check them out and let me know which one you’re going to try first:
Plan ahead with enchiladas.
When I know I have a busy week coming up, I look for make-ahead meals that I can prepare the weekend before. I love this enchiladas recipe from one of my favorite food blogs Big Girls Small Kitchen. In one batch it makes five black bean enchiladas and five chicken ones—making it vegetarian friendly or perfect for anyone who gets bored with just one flavor. But the best part is that you can assemble your enchiladas up to a day in advance, and then just pour the sauce on and bake when you’re ready to eat them. And what busy girl doesn’t love leftovers? If you make a whole pan of ten enchiladas like the recipe calls for, you’re guaranteed to have lunch and dinner for the next day too.
- 10 small flour tortillas
- 1/2 purchased rotisserie chicken, taken off the bone and shredded
- 1 can black beans
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- handful Swiss Chard or other green, chopped
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon adobo, from chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese, preferably a mix of sharp cheddar and jack
For the beans and enchilada sauce:
1. In a frying pan, sauté the onions in the canola oil over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes until softened. Scrape half of this mixture into a medium saucepan.
2. In the original pan, add the smoked paprika, and the can of black beans (don’t bother draining). Cook until the bean liquid is reduced, then add in the greens. Once they’ve wilted, turn off the heat and set the whole skillet aside.
3. In the other saucepan, add adobo, chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, brown sugar, and a cup of water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then puree in a blender, taste for salt, and set aside.
To make the enchiladas:
1. Up to one day in advance, assemble the enchiladas: roll about a 1/2 cup of shredded chicken and a few tablespoons of corn in half of the tortillas, folding in the ends so the filling stays in. Fill the remaining tortillas with 1/2 cup black beans and a few teaspoons of corn. Arrange in a 9×13″ baking dish.
2. When ready to serve, preheat the over to 350°F. Pour the sauce evenly over the whole pan, then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and/or rice and a simple green salad.
Save time with stir-fry.
When it comes to quick and easy dinners, look to the one-dish meal. (Busy girls have no time for side dishes!) Not only will you shave some major minutes off your cooking, time, you’ll cut down on cleanup too. Homemade stir-fry tastes a lot better than takeout, and it’s as easy as dicing up your ingredients and throwing it all in the wok. If you’re a vegetarian like I am, feel free to sub the chicken in this recipe for tofu or more veggies. It will be delicious either way!
- 1 lb chicken, chopped in small pieces
- 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
- 4-5 yellow squash, chopped
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges
- a small handful of basil, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- vegetable oil
- cooked rice to serve
1. Preheat a large skillet and drizzle with vegetable oil. Add chicken and salt and pepper. Stir fry until done.
2. Add vegetables and lemon and cook until tender crisp. After vegetables are done, remove from heat and add basil. Serve over white rice.
Freeze and bake a low-carb lasagna.
Lasagna is the classic make now, bake later meal, which is why I was excited to find this low-carb version with zucchini slices in place of noodles. You can assemble your entire lasagna over the weekend, and then store it in the fridge or freezer for a later date. When you get home from a long day at the office, just pop it in the oven while you change out of your work clothes and decompress from your busy day. And if you’re looking for a veggie version of this recipe, just swap in some eggplant slices for the layers of ground beef.
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 24 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons basil
- 3 medium zucchini, sliced ⅛” thick
- 15 ounces ricotta
- 16 ounces mozzarella, shredded
- ¼ cup parmesan
- 1 large egg
- Salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground meat in a large skillet over medium heat with onion, garlic, basil, and salt & pepper. Add sauce and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, Parmesan, 12 ounces mozzarella, and egg in a bowl and mix.
2. Arrange zucchini slices into the base of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer with half of meat sauce and cheese mixture. Repeat layering and top with final layer of zucchini slices.
3. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
No matter what you’re making, another great tip is to do all the prep work you can the weekend before. Plan out your meals for the week, and do all your slicing, dicing, and marinating before the workweek takes hold.
Have you been enjoying our Busy Girl meal series? Which recipe is your favorite?
Sound off in the comments below if you’d like to see more posts like this one!