Week night dinners, quick & easy.

Crumbled fish or schnitzel. Roasted chicken pieces. Two minute noodle soup is popular at our place and uses up those bits of leftovers that aren't quite enough for anyone, let alone everyone! Mac cheese, Swiss steak, quick casserole and the rest made into a pie, 101 ways with sausage meat .

Chef_bisloy, Mar 30, 9:56 pm


My teens are also in and out at all times of the evening - with sport and social lives - there are very few meals that can't be reheated in the microwave although pasta can be a bit manky if you're not careful. To be honest though I'm at the stage now where I will and have gone on kitchen strike - I figure all 3 of my kids are old enough to either cook a meal occasionally or at least feed themselves a bacon sandwich if nothing else

Chef_sarahb5, Mar 31, 9:17 pm

OP, double the cooking amount, that is if there are 4 of you, cook for 6-8 , and freeze the extra meals, soon you will have a good range of meals that you can pull out of the freezer, to suit all taste buds, and makes some nights, a breeze by just reheating those meals.
Soups are also a great way to go, make your own garlic breads to go with them.

Chef_aj.2., Mar 31, 9:26 pm

This one I do regularly and probably takes 45-60 mins in total. Small chicken drumsticks, sliced onions, thick slices of potatoes, maybe peppers or courgettes if in season. Put in a big roasting dish with a good splash of olive oil the juice of two lemons, dried oregano or other herbs or fresh, salt and pepper and mix with your hands through. Bake 190oC for 45 mins or so until cooked. Can eat as is or serve with green salad or other steamed veges. Really nice cold or reheated the next day too the flavours really zing (sometimes I slash the drumsticks to get the flavours in a bit more).

Chef_village.green, Mar 31, 9:30 pm

How much time do you have, OP? And do you enjoy cooking, i.e. do you find it relaxing or a hassle? I have heaps of ideas however your response will help me provide some suggestions.

Chef_awoftam, Mar 31, 9:32 pm

1. A pressure cooker will give you a meaty casserole or soup or curry in 20 minutes. Rice cooker on. Frozen veges in the pot, or microwave. Throw a salad together. And a tasty dinner is on the table in just over half an hour.
2. A large thick rump steak cooked med-rare, sliced very thin, piled on plate goes a long way. Serve with gravy and tastes like roast beef.

Chef_tessie2, Apr 4, 11:28 am

Back to full-time work (again) and I just hate the dinner after work prep etc. Is there a thread about quick, easy, healthy meals for busy families? If not, could you please add your secrets and tips here.

Thanks a heap!

Chef_4crittersnmee, Oct 12, 8:29 am

I'm a bit of a boring 'week night dinners person' this is what I usually cook Monday - Friday:
Boiled or steamed veges (prepare then they usually cook themselves)
served with:
Poach Egg or
Tinned Salmon or
Fresh Fish or
Some fresh meat
Dessert is usually:
Tinned Fruit/Fresh Fruit with Yoghurt or ice-cream and/or
Biscuit and Hot Drink

I'm usually able to have meal on table within 30 minutes of arriving home. As long as you have everything in your pantry/fridge it makes for easy meal prep. (use internet grocery shopping). I don't use pre-packed meals / processed food apart from tinned salmon/tuna, tinned fruit

In the weekend I usually spend time with food prep and more interesting types of food.

My 'motto' when it comes to food is "I need to eat to live" NOT "live to eat". (makes me feel better with my weekday meals).

Chef_teap, Oct 12, 12:16 pm

Three things - make something that needs long slow cooking.
You don't need a slow cooker, in fact I don't recommend them.
The timer of your oven is fine.

And fast cook things. You can prep your stir fry stuff in advance (or get the kids to do it) and then just throw it all in 5 mins before eating time.

Or make some stuff on the weekends - pies, casseroles, soup etc - freeze them, then get it out in the am, cook when you get home.

Chef_lythande1, Oct 12, 1:50 pm

use sunday arvo wisely, you can cook rice in bulk and then cool it and pop into bags to freeze, defrost the day you want to make fried rice. I always add omelette to mine and cashew nuts, I don't put meat in but you could, or frozen prawns.
whilst the sunday roast is cooking - if you make one, stay in the kitchen and make a pie, it can be frozen for later in the week. or lasagne or cut your veges for Monday night .
fish and seafood cooks quickly so are good weeknight meals, as are burgers, because you can prep, cook patties and them they assemble them themselves
fish cakes and salad
fish pie (tinned fish) all the veges go in the pie . don't need to serve anything else but bread and or salad, I used to make a big coleslaw on a Monday with no dressing, and I would use during the week for lunches or dinners
brown mince - any it can be chicken - add your flavorings, I like kep manis, soy, garlic, ginger, red onions. cook very well. serve in lettuce cups with salad ingredients in dishes for them to add and extra kep manis sauce. some cold salad ideas to add to - red pepper, corn kernels, cucumber diced, red onions

Chef_motorbo, Oct 12, 3:32 pm

Make a plan - write down all the meals you usually make, next to each one add the ingredients that are needed for that dish. Add in a few quick meals - toasties, pizza, etc - for those nights when you simply can't be bothered and then pick 6 each week - everyone deserves 1 night off a week especially if you're working full time. Not only does this cut down on the after work panic but it makes shopping more effective too

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 12, 3:34 pm

I have worked full yime for the last 14 years - my kids are old enough to cook now but they never seem to have the tine to do it! This weeks meals are, starting tonight:

Jungle chicken curry with rive
Roast pork and all the trimmings
Leftover prok, mashed potato and veggies
Spag bol
Sausage & mash
Butter chicken

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 12, 3:37 pm

Thanks for the good ideas. I especially like making a big plan of all the meals that would work and then choosing a week's worth. I do try and make some things on Sunday afternoon also but find it is another thing about Monday that I dread (not a huge kitchen fan obviously). Thanks again. Some great ideas.

Chef_4crittersnmee, Oct 12, 9:48 pm

If you are disliking kitchen prep it is possible that you don't have tools that are good enough. If you don't have a really good quality all purpose knife and a means of keeping it sharp, it would be worthwhile getting these. A good knife (I like Global brand) will cost a bit but will be absolutely worth it as it will be a pleasure to use and will encourage you to develop good knife skills. If you are moving from a blunt knife to a sharp one take care for the first few days to avoid cutting yourself.

Chef_davidt4, Oct 12, 10:41 pm


I bake for lunch boxes on Sunday but can't think of a worse way to spend my precious weekend time than meal prep for the week - weekends are too short to spend that much time in the kitchen! We eat late here during the week but none of the meals on my planner that I use for week day meals takes longer than an hour from first cut to first mouthful! I often cook double quantity during the week so I have an extra meal for another week.

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 12, 10:56 pm

My latest quick meal is - buy a smoked chicken, buy lots of diff salad veges and some tortilla wraps. I do make a nice dressing to go with it, usually a herby lemon mayo. These are great and I think reasonably healthy, great for lunches the next day to. Very quick and easy and rather yummy.

Chef_dibble35, Oct 13, 8:56 am


I do something similar except I also buy 2 or 3 different ready made salads from the deli as well.

OP how many are you feeding and whats your timescale for "quick"? For me it's half an hour from start to table.

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 13, 9:59 am

I do like being in the kitchen, and I prefer to prep than to eat processed foods, and I only eat chicken - maybe once a week, red meat maybe once every 1 to 2 months, and because I make from scratch yes it does take me longer, each to their own I couldn't possibly eat meat 7 days a week
Jamie oliver revived the food processer so keep that in mind for making prep easier

Chef_motorbo, Oct 13, 10:12 am


We usually have at least one fish/seafood meal a week - this week is an exception. We do have the occasional non-meat/chicken meal but we are meat eaters and my boys think I'm starving them if I don't feed them meat, chicken or fish every night so the non-meat meals tend to be when they're not home.

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 13, 10:57 am

Something else I do occasionally is cook tomorrow night's meal after we've eaten dinner

Chef_sarahb5, Oct 13, 10:59 am

When in doubt bake potatoes. Large baked potatoes make filling meals, can be filled with an endless variety of things (both meat based and/or vegetarian such as beans, corn, vegetables, pickles. the list goes on) so never seem boring and if you do extra you have something for the next days lunches. :)

Chef_sampa, Oct 13, 11:26 am


I think the clue is the user name - 4 critters and me.
Nothing to do with equipment, more to do with juggling full time work around children, after school activities, homework, shopping, housework .
It's a big ask - and I see where you are coming from.
Personally I love pottering in my lovely kitchen, tonight I cooked a leek and chicken Frittata for an easy tea tomorrow night. I often do a double batch of something on a Sunday - doesn't take long and 1 serve is for dinner the next night and the other goes into the freezer for an easy dinner at another time.
We have a tradition of homemade burgers and wedges on Friday. Which only leaves 3 nights to think about, and one of those usually come from the freezer from another double batch cooked weeks before. My children are older now but still at home - so we have a rule - whoever is home first starts dinner.

Chef_toadfish, Oct 13, 8:14 pm

The double batches I make regularly are

Chilli con carne - can be served multiple ways
Pasta bakes
Chicken & vegetable soup
Bacon hock soup
Leek & potato soup
Devilled sausages

I also use the crockpot once every couple of weeks but love day light saving so will be having more BBQ's as the weather improves

Chef_toadfish, Oct 13, 8:27 pm

I almost never cook during the week. I make up meals during the weekend by overcooking or by making two things out of one.
So if I have bought mince - I make one meal for the weekend and use the other half to make something for the week eg: big savoury mince (some of which is then used for lunches) and meat sauce for pasta which is for a meal during the week.
It doesn't feel like cooking twice and sometimes I can cook two things in the oven at the same time (saving power).
I do however love my slow cooker - so many uses and its is so easy to put something in there - like a piece of beef - even casserole grade, and slow cook till I can shred it, then put in the fridge for tacos or tortillas later in the week saving me having to do more than pull it out.

Chef_fey, Oct 14, 2:55 pm

make large lasagne in roasting pan that way u can eat half save half for next night or freeze serve with salad that can be made night b4
or quiche with tin salmon chucked in served with salad

Chef_gloriousgirl01, Oct 14, 7:11 pm

I admire those who have a weekly menu worked out! My daughter does this & she says it helps with the weekly shopping. I'm inclined to pull something dead out of the freezer & hope it will turn onto something nice! We have surplus steak (it's not all it's cracked up to be!) Give me lamb or mutton any day.I tend to cook pretty plain food as hubby doesn't like pastas etc. But the guys need a good meal at night after working a 12+ hour day & starting at 3:45am to milk.

Chef_macandrosie, Oct 15, 7:17 pm



. something dead out of the freezer. haha.

I cook for 6 of us. We have three teens who are constantly in and out of home at that time, which makes things a bit trickier. DH cooks a couple of times a week but it is an hour "don't go near the kitchen" kind of event that wears us all out. Usually cooks sausages and mash only. Thanks for all the ideas. I tend to buy whatever is cheap at the supermarket (meat wise) that week and work from there. Great ideas. CHEERS!

Chef_4crittersnmee, Oct 16, 10:48 pm

Mine had sausages in bread tonight! Just because you have a plan doesn't mean you have to stick to it

Chef_sarahb5, Nov 8, 6:14 am

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