Quick and Easy Meals

— Written By and last updated by Nicole Vernon
en Español / em Português

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Most of us enjoy a nice home cooked meal but do not want to be in the kitchen for hours making it or cleaning the mess afterwards. I would like to share with you a couple of the tips that get me in and out of the kitchen quick (about 5-10 minutes), while still being able to serve my family a delicious meal within 30 minutes.

One-pot meals are not just easy but they also save me a lot of cleaning up afterwards. Some examples of one-pot meals are chili, chowders and soups.

Prep for several meals – I take a few minutes when I bring my groceries home to prep for several meals. Some of my favorite easy meals are chicken vegetable soup, lentil soup and seafood soup. The following is how I prep for these recipes:

  1. Wash and cut veggies small (carrots, celery and onions) mix and place in three (quart size) Ziploc bags, date and freeze. I use one bag for each soup.
  2. Cut chicken (about 6 oz.) into small bite-size pieces, place in Ziploc bag, date and freeze.
  3. Buy frozen ready-to-cook, individually vacuum sealed salmon or tilapia (which are great for other recipes like fish tacos) and a small bag of no-tail, cooked shrimp (optional).
  4. Buy dried lentils.
  5. Additional ingredients on hand:
    – Chicken bouillon (low sodium) or broth
    – Olive oil or butter
    – Garlic powder or fresh (my favorite)
    – Noodles (whole wheat)
    – Ground basil
    – Black pepper

Once I have taken these steps, I am ready to fix any of these three delicious soups for my family and I will only have to be in the kitchen 5-10 minutes. Following is the basic way I make each of these recipes:

Chicken Vegetable Soup

  1. Saute the frozen vegetables (carrots, celery and onions) in 1 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil.
  2. Add water, chicken, chicken bouillon or broth, garlic, black pepper and ground basil.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add noodles and continue cooking until the noodles are cooked.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Lentil Soup

  1. Rinse and drain dried lentils.
  2. Saute the frozen vegetables (carrots, celery and onions) in olive oil or vegetable oil.
  3. Add water, lentils, chicken bouillon or broth and garlic. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Seafood Soup

  1. Saute the frozen vegetables (carrots, celery and onions) in 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil.
  2. Add water, chicken bouillon or broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add 6-8 oz.) salmon or tilapia (cut into bite-sized pieces), basil, black pepper, and garlic. Cook on low-medium heat for about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp (optional). Blend 2 cups of soup and add back to give soup creamy (chowder-type) texture.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please feel free to contact me. Also, please visit NC EFNEP. Under “Participants” you will find additional “Tips and Recipes”.