/If you’ve been around here for a while, then you know I love to meal plan. It’s a great way to get organized, save money, avoid food waste, and simplify your life. I used to watch a TV show called Fixing Dinner and it was one of my biggest inspirations for getting started with meal planning. One of things the host, Sandi Richard, talked about was thinking about the week ahead. In particular, she spoke of pinpointing your “fright nights”.
These were the ones where your schedule was especially hectic. I put together this list of our favorite super simple 15 minute meals with those nights in mind. Each of these meals takes very little time and effort to make. They can easily be put together by even an inexperienced cook and are perfect beginning meals for kids to make.
20 Ideas for Super Simple 15 Minute Meals
Make pizza quesadillas with tortillas, mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni, and other favorite pizza toppings. We also like chicken quesadillas using leftover chicken, cheese, and leftover vegetables. I also like pineapple added to mine. Simply spray a skillet with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Throw in a tortilla. Add your toppings. I like to put a bit of cheese first, then toppings, then more cheese because the cheese helps it all stick together better. Top with another tortilla. Cook for a few minutes until golden brown on one side. The cheese will be partially melted. Flip over to brown the other side and finish melting the cheese. We like to serve with pizza sauce or salsa. Sour cream is yummy with these too.
Meatball subs –
Use frozen meatballs (your own that you made ahead and froze or buy your favorite brand), canned spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, buns. Cut the meatballs in half to keep them from rolling off the bun. Toast the buns. Top with cheese. Put under the broiler to melt it. Meanwhile, heat up the meatballs in the sauce. Add to the buns with the melted cheese. Add sliced onions and green peppers if desired.
Coney dogs with coleslaw –
Hot dogs, buns, cheese, onions, sauce, and coleslaw. Cook hot dogs and heat up the sauce. We always used beanless chili when we lived in the US but it’s pretty much impossible to find that in Canada. So here, we started using a plain (no meat) spaghetti sauce. You can also simply use leftover chili (even with beans!) if you’d like. We top with cheese and onions. I like to throw some coleslaw on top of mine (I learned that trick while living in Arkansas).
Tuna melt –
Make your favorite tuna salad recipe. Fill a bun with the tuna salad and top with cheese. Pop under the broiler until cheese is melted.
Faux gyros –
Heat up some frozen meatballs (again, your own or store-bought). Mix together 3 T. lemon juice, 2 T. olive oil, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tsp. chopped mint, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. black pepper. Toss the warm meatballs with this mixture. Chop up a small cucumber and combine with a cup of Greek yogurt. Around here, we can also buy Tzatziki at the grocery store to make it even easier. Fill pitas with the meatball mixture and top with the cucumber sauce.
Chicken salad in a wrap
This is one of my favorite meals. I use leftover chicken (or you can buy a roast chicken from the grocery store and use the meat from that – our store sells them cheap if you go later in the day! Or buy precooked plain boneless chicken in packages at your store.). I like to add some mayo (Greek yogurt can add a nice zing), toss in some sour cream if you have some you need to use up but it’s not necessary, chopped apples, dried cranberries, and nuts (my fave is pecans but walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts are good options too. A friend made it once with cashews in it and it was amazing). You might prefer not to add any fruit. How about some celery and onions? I know some people who add just a touch of mustard. Radishes add a zippy flavor too. There are so many options. Plop some into a tortilla and roll it all up. Got some leftover lettuce or spinach? You could throw that into the tortilla too.
Taco salad –
Brown some ground meat of your choice. Add taco seasoning following packet instructions. Or make your own. We serve this in a variety of ways. Put together a simple tossed salad and top it with the taco meat, some cheese, onions (and other favorite taco toppings). We like to throw some broken bits of tortilla chips on top – it’s a great way to use up those bits left in the bottom of the bag! If we have any sweet corn or beans on hand, those get thrown in there too. Delicious and filling!
Fresh pasta takes much less time to cook than dried pasta (even that doesn’t take long but if you’re short on time, this is even faster). I cook it and then top it with any sausage or leftover chicken we have on hand and some pasta sauce. Add a little grated Parm if you’d like. My favorite topping though is just a simple squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of melted butter, pine nuts, and olive oil. Once again, throw in some grated Parm if you want. Other good options you could choose from – white cannellini beans, spinach, shrimp, onions, bacon, leftover veggies like peas, corn, green beans, carrots.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs –
Frozen meatballs heated and tossed with sweet and sour sauce. Stir in some pineapple chunks. You can add leftover cooked vegetables such as carrots, green beans, or sweet peppers if desired. Serve over rice.
Spread tortilla chips out on a sheet pan. Top with taco meat or cooked chicken, corn, black beans, and cheese. Add other toppings as desired such as chopped tomatoes, avocado, and peppers. Sprinkle cheese over the whole thing and broil until cheese is melted. Can serve with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream if desired.
You can find my classic chili recipe here. (You can even make it a zero points recipe for Weight Watchers!) I like it even better when it’s had time to cook away most of the day but it’s still darn good when made quickly.
Frittata or dressed up scrambled eggs –
Make scrambled eggs and add in stuff. Think of things like onions, mushrooms, cheese, ham – pretty much anything you’d put into an omelette! Just don’t go through all the work of making it into an omelette. Or make it in frittata form. These mini frittata are quick and easy to make and they’re even freezer friendly!
Use ready made pizza crusts, drizzled with olive oil, topped with ricotta, and mozzarella. Add some shredded or shaved Parmesan if you want. You can also add any leftover cooked vegetables you have on hand (I like potatoes or sweet potatoes and spinach) if desired. Other toppings that go well with this are feta, caramelized onions, and your choice of herbs (fresh or dried). Bake in oven until cheese is melted. Serve as is or top with arugula and some balsamic vinegar before eating. Of course, if you have a family of traditionalists, you can go with classic options like pepperoni and mozzarella instead.
Or use leftover hamburger buns, English muffins, or bagels as your pizza base. This makes for a quick and easy way for the whole family to get involved in building their own masterpieces!
Eggs poached in tomatoes –
Heat up spaghetti sauce until simmering. Drop in eggs and poach gently for 5-8 minutes. Serve over toast. If you like your food a little spicier, add some chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and paprika to the sauce before heating. You can also include leftovers such as cooked chicken, ground meat, peppers, onions, spinach, kale, or chickpeas.
Eggs en cocotte –
Eggs en cocotte are simply baked eggs. But they sound awfully fancy for a simple 15 minute meal don’t they? They’re similar to the idea of frittata except that the eggs are more like poached than scrambled. You can still add a variety of meats and vegetables to them though.
Chicken Caesar salad –
It doesn’t get much easier. Buy a Caesar salad kit from the grocery store. Top with some cooked chicken. Ta da!
Chicken fingers with oven fries –
For the chicken fingers, essentially just cut up pieces of boneless chicken. Dip into beaten egg (or just the egg whites) and then into some sort of coating. I’ve used crushed pretzels, Panko/bread crumbs, finely chopped peanuts, corn flake crumbs, crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal and even potato chips. If you make the pieces too thick, this will take a little longer than the 15 minute time limit so be sure to make the pieces somewhat thin. Bake in a 425-450 degree oven.
For the oven fries, wash but don’t peel the potatoes. Cut into sticks. Dip into beaten egg white (this helps them get good and crispy). Be sure to spray the baking sheet with cooking spray to keep them from sticking. Bake along with the chicken. Again, the size of your fries will determine cooking time.
Sloppy Joes –
Our traditional recipe is simply to brown the ground meat. Stir together ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar. Add that to the pan with the ground beef and cook until heated through. Serve on buns. Want to make it even faster? This Sloppy Joe recipe uses bottled sauce. Amp up the nutrients by throwing some leftover veggies in.
Chicken Fried Rice –
Heat up some cooking oil in a skillet or wok. Add diced carrots (frozen or fresh), frozen peas, and frozen sweet corn. While these are heating up in the pan, prepare some rice (or use leftover). Add the rice and some leftover diced or shredded chicken to the pan and cooked until heated through. Stir in a bit of soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil to add more flavor. Serve as is or serve topped with a sunny side up fried egg. Yum.
Grilled Cheese (Levelled Up) and Soup
Okay, grilled cheese and tomato soup is a classic around here. But to rev it up a bit, turn that grilled cheese into a Monte Cristo sandwich. Essentially add some leftover chicken or ham or turkey to your sandwich. You can throw in some leftover veggies too – I really like spinach in this! Then take the whole thing and dip it into beaten egg with milk (as if making French toast). Cook until golden brown with the egg cooked and the cheese melted.
With these ideas on hand, your menu planning, even for fright night, will be a breeze!