If you’re like me, you know what sort of day I’m talking about. The one that seems will never end, yet six o’clock rolls around too quickly; you’re left cranky from hunger and wondering what to make for dinner. Days like these are big budget busters for me as I’m often all too tempted to swing through the local fast food drive-in on my way home.

Here are three quick meals that are great alternatives to the over-processed, over-priced fast food dinner. They are my go to choices when I’m feeling tired or uninspired and the ingredients are easy to keep on hand for days when I get home twenty minutes before dinner time. Each dish has two choices: fast: pot to table in about ten minutes or fancy: dressed up for when there is a bit more time. Bon appetit!

Ramen Noodles

  • Fast: Use one package of noodles for every two people you’re feeding. Follow the cooking directions but before the water boils add one cup frozen mixed or julienned vegetables for every two people. When the liquid is at a rolling boil, crack two raw eggs into the pot and stir quickly. Cook for two to three more minutes, then serve. Instant delicious egg drop soup; pot to table time: ten minutes!
  • Fancy: Again, use one package of noodles for every two people, but cook the noodles in just enough water to cover. When cooked, drain the noodles (reserving the liquid) and set aside. While the noodles are cooking, dice one or two zucchinis and one half to one box of firm tofu into small pieces. Begin by sautéing the zucchini until it’s soft, about five minutes, then add the tofu. In a bowl mix 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/4 cup soy sauce, add powdered ginger to taste. Add to the zucchini/tofu mix. If the sauce is too sticky, add some of the reserved liquid from the noodles. Serve the zucchini and tofu over the noodles; pot to table time: twenty minutes!

Chili Mac and Cheese

  • Fast: Cook one box of mac and cheese according to the directions. Add one can of your favorite chili (I like turkey). Serves four easily; pot to table time: less than ten minutes!
  • Fancy: Prepare as above, but while the mac and cheese is cooking, prepare the following and place into small bowls. Two tomatoes and one red pepper, chopped; a small can of corn; grated Monterey jack cheese; sour cream and salsa. Place bowls on the table, buffet style, and use to top the chili mac and cheese: pot to table time: fifteen minutes!

Breakfast for Dinner

  • Fast: two scrambled eggs per person served with sliced ham and toast. Couldn’t be easier: pot to table time: ten minutes!
  • Fancy: beat two eggs per person with milk, 1/2 cup defrosted drained frozen spinach or 1 cup chopped fresh spinach,and one teaspoon of dill. Add to a frying pan with one tablespoon of melted butter, swirl the pan so that the egg covers it entirely. While the egg is starting to cook, finely chop one slice of ham per person and add to the egg then add as much grated cheddar cheese as you like (the more the better in my opinion). Serve with buttered toast and sliced tomatoes on the side. Green Eggs and Ham: pot to table time: twenty minutes!

How about you? What are your favorite quick meals?