Even during a normal year (which 2020 certainly isn’t), having time to prepare a good, healthy meal after your shift can be a challenge. When you’re tired and worn out, the last thing you want to do is spend hours laboring over a stove — or realizing you’ve forgotten to prep your planned evening meal at the last possible moment.
We’re here to help! After your next shift, skip that next trip through the drive-through with these quick, easy dinner recipes. Ranging from 20 to 30 minutes to prep and cook, here are 9 tasty dishes that focus on basic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, but that also deliver a surprising level of flavor and variety.
9 Fast & Easy Dinner Recipes for Tired Nurses & Caregivers
Fried Rice, With or Without Meat (30 min.)
Our own favorite easy dinner idea makes use of your on-hand veggies and meat for a fast batch of tasty fried rice. Start by preparing a cup or two of rice. Next, cook a batch of veggies in some olive oil — onions, bell peppers, and carrots are a great start. If you want a meat-based meal, add some chicken or steak slices as you’re cooking your veggies. (Make sure to thaw if frozen.)
Throw in some spices as you’re cooking, like garlic, basil, or ground pepper. (Don’t add salt until everything’s cooked, though.) Now, drain your rice and add it to the mix, along with an egg or two. (Break directly into the pan.) Cook for 10-20 minutes at medium-high, until the meat and egg are thoroughly cooked and the rice becomes noticeably fried. Add a dash of salt and soy sauce and enjoy!
Chicken & White Bean Salad (20 min.)
Southern Living offers up this fast take on a country-style chicken and bean salad, and all you’ll need to enjoy it is three cups of chopped chicken, a can of cannellini beans, and six ounces of peas (along with standard staple items like mustard, olive oil, orange juice (!) and some salt and black pepper). You can find the full recipe here.
California Burger Wraps (30 min.)
The foodies at Readers Digest’s Taste of Home team offer up this highly tasty and surprisingly light meal of West Coast-style burger wraps. All you need is a pound of lean ground beef, half a ripe avocado, some lettuce leaves, feta cheese, Miracle Whip, and a few other common ingredients. Get the recipe here.
Hawaiian Tuna Bowl (20 min.)
From the culinary experts at Good Housekeeping comes this ultra-fast, light and healthy Hawaiian-style dinner. In addition to the base ingredients of tuna, avocado, onion, cucumber, sugar and scallions (3), you’ll need some other staples of Asian cuisine including soy sauce, sesame oil and black sesame seeds. Get this easy dinner recipe here.
Summer Veggie Toastads (30 min.)
“Growing up, nachos were one of my favorite foods,” writes Izzy at SheLovesFood.com. “I like to think of tostadas as grown-up nachos that I don’t have to share.” To make them, you need just 30 minutes and a lineup of standard Mexican ingredients like tostadas (the store-bought variety work just fine), re-fried beans, shredded cheese, guac, and more. You can find all the details here.
Carrot & Black Bean Tacos (30 min.)
Our favorite fast dinner idea from the recipe experts at Country Living is these vegan tacos that even meat-eaters will love. Combine basic Mexican spices — cumin, chili powder, lime juice, fresh cilantro — with a can of black beans and half a pound of carrots. Additional peppers, salt, some olive oil, and a small onion are also needed. See the recipe here.
General Tso’s Chicken (22 min.)
This one will also put that (possibly long-neglected) bottle of Sriracha to good use! From the 22–minute recipes series offered by Epicurious comes this fast and easy take on a staple of Chinese cuisine. You’ll need a pound of green beans, two pounds of chicken, and a teaspoon of ginger, along with basics like honey, salt, black pepper, and vegetable oil. Read more.
Southwestern Veggie Skillet (30 min.)
Over at Fat Fridays Forever you’ll find an easy dinner recipe that’s “packed with healthy whole grains and vegetables” — and as tasty as it is healthy and quick to make. A cup of brown rice, a couple of cups of cheese, and a variety of veggies like onion, garlic, zucchini, green pepper, corn, and diced tomatoes are among the ingredients you’ll need. Check it out here.
One-Pot Vegetarian Spaghetti (25 min.)
Finally, we want to share a tasty option for a fast, pot-cooked spaghetti that manages to be light and decadent, according to Kathryn at Family Food on the Table. It’s based on mushrooms and spinach, but you “can definitely add any extra veggies you have on hand,” Kathryn writes. “Peppers, zucchini, and broccoli would all be lovely.” Get this recipe here.