Fast And Easy Dinners

With spring here, does anyone feel as though they do not have time to make a home-cooked meal, or would you like to be able to make something with what you already have on hand? Did you know that you can make your own casserole with what you already have in your home? Casseroles are fast and easy dinner options for a busy family or person as they usually take minimal time; you can use what you have on hand, throw them together, let them do their thing, then dinner is ready in a flash. Plus, if you have leftovers, you also have lunch for the next day!

From looking at A Nutrition Fact Sheet: Invent a Casserole, from Montana State University Extension and Buy Eat Live Better (2018), there are a few components to making your own casserole. It only takes a few ingredients. Select a grain such as pasta, rice, barley, etc. and make sure the gain is cooked (1 ½ - 2 cups). Then select a protein such as chicken, beef, uncooked eggs, tuna, beans, etc. (1 ½ - 2 cups). Then pick a sauce such as a white or cheese sauce, tomato soup, or a cream soup (1 cup or 1 can and 1/3 cup milk or water). To make your casserole even more nutritious, try adding 1 ½ cups of your favorite veggie. You can also season your casserole the way you like it and could choose to add a topping such as bread or cracker crumbs.

You can then bake your casserole in the oven at 350° for 30-35 minutes, add your topping (if desired), and return to the oven for around 10 minutes. You don’t want to turn on your stove? No problem, you can also make your casserole on the stovetop or in an electric frypan. Cook your desired grain until tender, then drain off any access water. Add your remaining ingredients (except your topping), heat through for 5-10 minutes, add topping (if desired) and enjoy.

A Nutrition Fact Sheet: Invent a Casserole from Montana State University Extension and Buy Eat Live Better (2018) has some favorite combinations that you could try at home. Monterey Chicken-egg noodles, broccoli, chicken, cream of chicken soup, green chilies, cracker crumbs, and jack cheese. Beefy Onion-elbow macaroni, green beans, cubed lean beef, cream of mushroom soup, mushrooms, and caramelized onions. Taco Rice-rice, corn, lean ground beef or cooked beans, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning or chili powder, and cheddar cheese.

Remember, there is no one right way to make a fast and easy casserole. Look at what you have on hand and mix a few things together. You might just invent your new favorite weeknight meal for those busy days.

For more information on fast and easy dinners or recipes, check out the Richland County Nutrition Coalition Facebook page at, and the Pinterest page at


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