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When I first started on my nine to five grind one of the biggest struggles I found post nine to five, was the lack of free time I had. The little free time I did have spent at the gym and then making dinner for what felt like forever. I’m one of those annoying humans in the sense that I like to take care of myself and eat fairly healthily about 80 percent of the time so going out to eat during the week is generally something I try to avoid (both for my health and for my wallet). Make fun of me all you want but I do this so that I can treat myself like a general garbage can on the weekends and ingest 8 glasses of wine and then drunk eat chicken nuggets and pizza rolls (#balance), so it’s not like I’m some insane health person, I just generally try to be moderately healthy.
Over the past 2 years that I’ve been out of school and working full time, I’ve gotten sick and tired of spending an hour or longer making dinner. So I’ve slowly gotten good at making a few go-to, easy and mostly healthy dinners that you’ll want to inhale just as quickly as you make them, in under 30 minutes. I’m sharing them here, with you, the lovely readers so that you too can work them into your weekly routines and save yourself, not only the time, but also that waistline, just in time for summer. We may have to be on that nine to five grind this summer, but that doesn’t mean the only thing that has to fit us are our sweatpants.
The Salmon Bowl
What you’ll need: Salmon fillet, salt, pepper, chili powder and a sprinkle of brown sugar (I said mostly healthy okay?). Pico or salsa, whichever you choose. Mexican blend corn (like the corn salsa from chipotle, I get mine in the frozen section at Aldi’s), black beans, Jasmine or brown rice, greek yogurt or light sour cream, hot sauce.
What you do: Season the salmon with the salt, pepper, chili powder and brown sugar, literally doesn’t matter what order. Throw it in a pan with some olive oil and cook it, I recommend searing it a bit on both sides and then turning it to low, putting a lid on for 10-15 and letting it cook.
Cook the corn blend in the microwave, cook the rice and black beans in a pot. If you’re really feeling fancy, throw some lime juice and cilantro in with the rice.
Mix the greek yogurt or light sour cream (literally they taste almost the same) with hot sauce until you get your desired #fire level and set aside. Then you literally just put it together in a bowl. Rice on bottom and them fill the rest in. Top with your spicy sour cream or greek yogurt and you’re good to go.
This usually takes me about 20-25 minutes to make, less if my salmon is super thin. More if I make homemade pico which is probably the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t recommend enough (it’s actually really simple).
Pesto Chicken Panini
Trying to get your long-term FWB to commit? Feed them this. Promise. All you need is panini pockets, chicken, pesto, tomato, mozzarella and a little garlic. Cut up the chicken into thin strips and saute it with garlic, pesto, salt, and pepper. Stuff that into the panini pocket with the tomatoes (the key is to dice not slice here, they fit better), mozzarella, and chicken. Throw on the ole George Foreman to your desired doneness and that’s it. I recommend sweet potato fries as a go to (and easy) side for this one.
Italian Turkey Sausage and Pasta
This one might be the easiest one on this list and I make it probably once a week because I love pasta. If you want to health-ify this one even further, just substitute the pasta for zucchini noodles.
This one’s even simpler than the last. Get some Italian turkey sausage (we get ours from Aldi’s for like 3 dollars), marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, and pasta (or zoodles). Then you literally throw the sausage in a skillet, let it cook, rotating on occasion. Once it’s mostly done, (10-12 minutes) chop it up and let the sides grill up a bit. Boil the pasta. Add 3 parts marinara and 1 part alfredo to the skillet with the sausage. Let that heat up and mix in. Pour the sausage and sauce on the pasta and voila. Technically this kind of sauce is called a blush sauce, but really my SO and I just call it a compromise because he loves alfredo and I love marinara but we both love them combined best. Look at me go, giving you healthy recipes and relationship advice all in one.
Barbecue Chicken “Stir-Fry”
To up the laziness factor on this one, get pre-chopped veggies. To save your wallet, don’t do that. This one I used to make in college and you always make way more than you need so, leftovers! Yay!
What you need: Chicken, broccoli, green pepper, lime, barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Rae’s until I die), onion (sorry but it really does up the game here), rice, salt, pepper, garlic.
Sear the cut up chicken in the skillet with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little bit of lime. Mix in a bowl some barbecue, lime, and garlic. Chop the veggies up and throw them in with the now 95% cooked chicken (about 10 minutes but it depends on the size of your chicken) , cover the skillet with a lid for let’s say 5-7 minutes but really you’re just aiming to soften the veggies here. Take the lid off and stir, then add the barbecue/lime sauce (as much or little as you like), and let cook for another 5-10. Cook the rice and serve over the rice.
One-Pan (or skillet) Apple Pork Chops
I’ll admit, this one’s a bit more difficult and could potentially take a few longer than 30 depending on how quick you work and the thickness of your pork chops. But it’s also a great way to impress a date or even a longtime SO with your bomb cooking skills with minimal effort.
I prefer to do his one in a skillet but you can do it in the oven as well. All you need is pork chops, apple(s) (1-2), garlic, salt, soy sauce, cinnamon, brown sugar.
Throw some olive oil in your pan with some garlic there. Season your ‘chops with salt and pepper and then throw those in with the sizzlin’ garlic. I recommend getting a bit of a sear on the chops, then turning the heat down slightly. Once the ‘chops are cooked and mostly done, take them out of the skillet and throw in ¾ cup of soy sauce, some more garlic, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, cinnamon and your apples. Mix that up and let it bubble and simmer for about 10 minutes. If you like a thicker sauce then leave the lid off, if you like a thinner one, throw a lid on there. Then throw your chops back in and let them cook together for about another 5.
If you’re really trying to eliminate some dishes, in between making the chops and the sauce, you can throw asparagus into the pan add some more garlic and olive oil and have yourself a nice little side dish with minimal effort.
If you made it this far, hopefully you’re not at work and super hungry now, but if you are hey at least you have some good options for dinner tonight!
If you end up giving these a try or have any other bomb quick weeknight recipes that are perfect for after work, drop me a comment or tag me in the IG story you know you’re going to share because #basic (it’s okay, same).