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36 Quick Meal Ideas That Are a Soccer Mom’s Secret Weapon

Busy days ahead? You need quick meal ideas for dinner on a school night (between soccer games and band practice).

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Ham & Swiss Baked Penne

As a kid I loved to the hot ham and Swiss sandwiches from a local fast-food restaurant. With its melty, gooey goodness, this bake makes me think of them. —Ally Billhorn, Wilton, Iowa
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Quick Chili Mac

This combines chili with one of my favorite pasta dishes. I often serve it for company or potlucks and occasionally add taco seasoning or use beanless chili and add black beans. —Lee Steinmetz, Lansing, Michigan
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Asian Chicken Rice Bowl

This super flavorful, nutrient-packed dish makes use of supermarket conveniences like coleslaw mix and rotisserie chicken. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for large families. —Christianna Gozzi, Asteria, New York
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Potato Kielbasa Skillet

No need to hunt through kielbasa and potato recipes, this smoky take steals the show as a hearty home-style, all-in-one meal. It's especially perfect on those cold late fall and early winter nights. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Cinnamon-Apple Pork Chops

When I found these pork chops and apples recipe online years ago, it quickly became a favorite. The ingredients are easy to keep on hand, and the one-pan cleanup is a bonus. —Christina Price, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Steak & Mushroom Stroganoff

This homey recipe of steak and egg noodles in a creamy sauce is just like what we had at my gran's house when we visited. It's one of my favorite "memory meals," as I call them. —Janelle Shank, Omaha, Nebraska
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Sweet & Tangy Salmon with Green Beans

I'm always up for new ways to cook salmon. In this dish, a sweet sauce gives the fish and green beans some down-home barbecue tang. Even our kids love it. —Aliesha Caldwell, Robersonville, North Carolina
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Sweet BBQ Meatballs

These sauced-up meatballs have big Asian flair. If your family likes sweet-and-sour chicken, this beefy version hits the spot. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce forms a crispy shell that's full of possibilities, depending on what's in your fridge. Swap shrimp for cooked chicken, pork or tofu. Mix in any veggies you want: carrots, broccoli, snow peas and chopped zucchini are all fantastic add-ins. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Italian Sausage with Artichokes and Feta

To impress the guests, we serve Italian sausage and artichoke hearts with pasta. It tastes like a gourmet masterpiece and also works with rice or potatoes. —Aysha Schurman, Ammon, Idaho
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Turkey Focaccia Club

My family thinks this sandwich is pure heaven thanks to the cranberry-pecan mayo. It's so good that they ask me to make it all year long. —Judy Wilson, Sun City West, Arizona
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Best Ever Potato Soup

You'll be surprised at the taste of this rich and cheesy easy potato soup. It really is the best potato soup recipe, ever. I came up with it after enjoying baked potato soup at one of our favorite restaurants. I added bacon, and we think that makes it even better. —Coleen Morrissey, Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania
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Weeknight Pasta Squiggles

This zesty pasta dish is ideal for busy weeknights. It's low on ingredients and easy to prep, and it tastes so comforting when the weather turns cool. A salad on the side makes this healthy pasta recipe a meal. —Stacey Brown, Spring, Texas
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Glazed Smoked Chops with Pears

My husband would eat pork chops every day if he could. Luckily, they're good prepared in all sorts of ways, including with pears. —Lynn Moretti, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
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Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

My chicken bundles are simple, clean and comforting. Serve them with wild rice and green beans for one of our favorite meals. —Jim Knepper, Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania
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Grandma's Swedish Meatballs

My mother made these hearty meatballs when we were growing up, and now my kids love them, too. My daughter likes to help shake the meatballs in flour. —Karin Ness, Big Lake, Minnesota
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Lemon Shrimp Linguine

I like recipes with elegant taste and easy technique like this lemony shrimp pasta. Bring on the Parmesan and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. —Patty Walker, West Des Moines, Iowa
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Pizza Potato Toppers

Not only is this recipe quick and easy to make, but it's an economical treat as well. I don't know of a more satisfying way to stretch a half pound of meat! —Sheila Friedrich, Antelope, Montana
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15-Minute Meat Loaf

I combined a few great-tasting meatloaf recipes to create this flavorful 15-minute version, which my husband loves. And because it's made in the microwave, the entree is perfect for busy nights. For an extra boost, I flavor the meatloaf with onion soup mix.—Deb Thompson, Lincoln, Nebraska
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Apple & Sweet Potato Quinoa

When feeding three hungry boys, I rely on quick, filling and tasty meals. The guys aren’t big quinoa fans, but the sweet potatoes and apples won them over. —Cheryl Beadle, Plymouth, Michigan
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Quick Shrimp Creole

My mother made shrimp Creole when I was growing up, so I’ve carried on the family tradition. For extra kick, pass the Louisiana hot sauce. —Gina Norton, Wonder Lake, IL
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Smoked Pork Chops & Pierogi Dinner

My husband often lobbies for smoked pork chops with pierogi. Balsamic vinegar gives the dish a sweet and sour touch, which works for ham steak, too. —Barbara Peabody, Green Valley, AZ
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Chili Dog Pizza

My girls love it when I make this mash-up pizza with hot dogs and chili. It’s a marvelous way to use up leftover chili. —Jennifer Stowell, Smithville, Missouri
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Honey-Lemon Chicken Enchiladas

Honey, lemon and chili flavors blend wonderfully in enchiladas. My family devours this dish, so I also use the chicken filling for soft tacos with toppings. —Kristi Moak, Gilbert, Arizona
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Dressed-Up Meatballs

Frozen meatballs and a jar of sweet-and-sour sauce make this microwave meal a last-minute lifesaver when racing against the clock. The flavorful sauce is dressed up with a hint of garlic and nicely coats the colorful mixture of meatballs, carrots, green pepper and onion. —Ivy Eresmas, Dade City, Florida
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Zucchini Ham Frittata

This frittata is so quick to make--it cooks in the microwave in just minutes! Add a red pepper garnish for a colorful look. —Mildred Fox, Fostoria, Ohio
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Garlic Toast Pizzas

Between working full-time, going to school and raising three children, finding time-saving recipes that my family likes is one of my biggest challenges. These quick pizzas pack a huge amount of flavor. —Amy Grim, Chillicothe, Ohio
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Ranchero Supper

This hearty dish is quick and easy to fix after a busy workday. We like to use hickory and bacon baked beans and serve it with fruit or a green salad for a complete meal. —Karen Roberts, Lawrence, Kansas
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Quick Tomato Soup

There's nothing like a steamy bowl of classic tomato soup on a cold February day. The addition of sugar puts a sweet spin on this version. For extra loveliness, top with homemade heart-shaped croutons. —Jane Ward, Churchville, Maryland
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Favorite Meat Loaf Cups

My family enjoys meat loaf, but sometimes I can't spare the hour or more it takes to bake in the traditional shape. A quick alternative is to divide the meat mixture into muffin cups for individual servings that are ready in less than 30 minutes. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Cream of Cauliflower Soup

This mildly cheesy cauliflower soup is a favorite of mine. I make it often in summer, although it's good anytime. —Karen Brown, West Lafayette, Ohio
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Spinach Ravioli Bake

This entree is unbelievably simple to prepare yet tastes delicious. The fact that you use frozen ravioli—straight from the bag without boiling or thawing—saves so much time.—Susan Kehl, Pembroke Pines, Florida
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Tortilla Chicken Bean Soup

Tasty toppings jazz up this no-fuss soup that has Mexican flair. The recipe for this sure-to-please soup was given to me by a friend. I make it often for company, and everyone asks for the recipe. You can substitute pinto beans in red chili sauce for the regular pinto beans and cumin called for in the recipe. —Michelle Larson, Greentown, Indiana
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Baked Cheddar Eggs & Potatoes

I love making breakfast recipes with eggs for dinner, especially this combo with potatoes and cheese that's started in a skillet on the stovetop and then popped into the oven to bake. —Nadine Merheb, Tucson, Arizona
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Sausage and Egg Pizza

I love breakfast pizza, but not all the fat and calories that go along with it. My lighter version gives you a big energy boost whether you eat it at brunch, dinner or somewhere in between. —Vicki Meyers, Castalia, Ohio
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Cheesy Sausage Potatoes

For a satisfying brunch, try some sausage and potatoes! I never have to worry about leftovers with these tasty potatoes—everyone loves them and the pan always empties. You can also serve these as a side dish at Sunday supper or for potlucks. —Linda Hill, Marseilles, Illinois

Laura Denby
Laura is a New York-based freelance food writer with a degree in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education and a degree in Journalism from Penn State. Her work has appeared in Taste of Home, Chowhound, the Culture Trip and Patch.
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