I am a recovering cooking snob. I used to think dinner wasn’t worth serving to my family unless it was as scratch made as possible and took an hour of blood, sweat and tears to produce. Even though I’ve worked outside of the home full-time since having my first child, I was regularly trying to cook labor-intensive meals every night.

Now…

Between burnout from that and the addition of more extracurricular activities now that my kids are getting a little older, I’ve slowly, but gladly, adapted my cooking style. I still love spending time in the kitchen for more involved meals but I limit it to once a week, usually on Sundays. Some weeknights, I need a recipe that I can throw together in 15 minutes.

Here are two of my go-to meals that you can get in front of your family in under a half hour. Each one has a key time-saving ingredient!

Dinner #1: Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Four-ounce can of diced green chiles
  • 12-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 32-ounce box of beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • Can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • Can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Time saving ingredient: A 10-ounce can of chicken breast (Are you cringing at the idea of using canned chicken? For me, there was a little bit of a mental hurdle to get over, but it tastes just like chicken cooked in a slow cooker. One word of caution, it’s salty! Taste as you cook and adjust your seasoning as needed.)

Just throw all those things in a pot and simmer for 10 minutes. This is also a great time to pull out your Instant Pot. Cooking soups in an Instant Pot helps create a simmered-on-the-stovetop-all-day tasting dinner in just a few minutes.

Dinner #2: Chicken, Rice and Broccoli Cheese Skillet

  • 2-3 cups fresh broccoli
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fresh or canned chicken
  • 1 cup broth of your choice
  • Time saving ingredient: Frozen rice. Every other weekend or so, I cook a huge batch of white rice in my Instant Pot, portion it into family-meal sized portions and stick it in the freezer. On nights when I need a quick dinner, I can almost always base in around my ready-to-go rice. Frozen rice can also be found at many grocery stores if you don’t want to pre-cook it yourself!

If using fresh chicken, add cubed chicken to an oiled skillet and cook on medium-high heat until almost cooked through. Season with salt, Add frozen rice, broth, broccoli and canned chicken (if not using fresh) to a skillet on medium-high heat. The rice will defrost while the broccoli steams. Cover and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is fully defrosted and broccoli is bright green. Add half of the shredded cheese to the rice mixture and stir. Smooth out the contents of the pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Remove from heat and cover for one minute or until cheese is fully melted.

dinner

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Sara
Sara was born in Colorado Springs, and lived here her entire life until she attended college at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. There, she earned her degree in Journalism and Political Science. Sara met her husband, Luke, in the summer of 2008 while working at Wag N Wash Healthy Pet Center, although they didn't start dating until 2011 - after Sara had graduated from college and Luke had joined the Air Force. They married in 2012, when Luke was stationed in a small town in West Texas. Shortly after moving to the Lone Star State, Sara started her career in local television. She did everything from running the cameras, to producing the five o'clock news, to creating marketing campaigns for local businesses. Sara's daughter Cora was born in 2013, and Sara got her first taste of being a full-time working mom while living over 600 miles from her own parents. Luke's Air Force enlistment ended in the summer of 2015, so they high-tailed it back to Colorado Springs. Now, Sara lives near Old Colorado City and works in the marketing department of a law firm in Downtown Colorado Springs. She loves spending time with her family, cooking, biking, photography and playing with makeup (that’ll happen after working in television in Texas).

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