“Say No to Kraft Dinner” Recipe Carnival!!!

I dedicate this carnival to all of the moms out there who have ever had one of those days (you all know what I mean), and have been sorely tempted to pull out that box of KD rather than attempt to rack your tired brain to come up with a simple, fast, convenient, yet still healthy meal to make for dinner!

The basic idea behind this carnival was to find a way to pull together the resources and ideas of many different women, so that each of us could compile our own short list of 5-10 healthy, homemade meals that we can prepare in a snap (30 minutes or less, with no previous prep time). For more on the thoughts behind the carnival, you can read my Baby Steps post from last week, where I first introduced it.

As promised, here are some of my own favorite, simple meals:

Sausage Stir-fry
Time: 10 min. chopping, then 20 minutes cooking.
Not only is this a tasty and fast meal to whip up, it’s also good for those who are unable to eat grains (though it does have starch). Add a bit of butter, coconut oil or olive oil to a large pan or wok, cook diced onions for a few minutes (garlic is a good addition, too), then add diced potatoes and cook until potatoes are nearly tender. Add chopped peppers, mushrooms (if using) and some sort of dinner sausage (remember- no nitrates is preferable!). I like to season mine with Spike (a natural seasoning salt), but even salt and pepper will do.

Pasta with Cheesy Sauce and Veggies du Jour
Time: Approx. 20-25 minutes.
While the water for pasta is boiling (we use rice pasta, btw, because it is easier to digest), I start a simple white sauce (melt butter, add flour, then add milk and whisk until smooth). To this I add whatever veggies I have on hand (asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, etc.), and about a cup of grated cheese, some powdered mustard (or dijon mustard), garlic, salt, pepper, any other seasonings that sound good (I also like adding Nutritional Yeast- it adds more cheesy flavor). If I have extra chicken in the fridge, I might toss that in as well or just quickly cook up one breast, but I often leave it meatless. This can also work on top of leftover rice, as I discovered last week!

Vegetable Omelet
Time: 15 minutes.
The simplest of the simple, and so good for you, too! My favorite omelet additions are peppers and mushrooms (have you noticed those are two of my favorite vegetables?), but you can also add onion, green onion, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, etc. Sometimes I stick with plain old cheese, a bit of milk, salt and pepper. Other times I make it a bit fancier. If I happen to have salsa or guacamole in the fridge, I like it Mexican style (did you know fresh salsa goes well with omelets? Seriously, try it!). Greek style is good too, with some olives, a bit of feta cheese, parsley or dill. Or Italian with sun dried tomatoes and basil and mozza? Mmmm…

Tortilla Pizzas
Time: 10-15 minutes prep, 5-8 minutes in oven.
Fairly self-explanatory. Basically, I use tortillas (we like sprouted corn tortillas, but anything will work) as the pizza crust (you can also use pitas or English muffins). They require very little baking time- just enough to warm them and melt the cheese really. I usually use a bit of ground meat, chicken breast, sandwich meat (again, nitrite free) or sausage if we have any, plus whatever vegetables or hebrs I have that are suitable for pizza. For sauce, I just warm up a can of tomato paste in a small saucepan, and add a bit of garlic, honey, salt, pepper, and Italian spices (water it down a just a little for easy spreading). These are definitely a favorite around here!

Salmon Melts with Veggies and Dip
Time: 10 minutes (Salmon melt prep), then 10 minutes (preparing veggies while melts cook)
Soooo fast and easy. For our small family, usually one good sized can of salmon works, mixed well with a couple tablespoons of mayo (or even sour cream or yogurt in a pinch) and some Spike. You can also add diced onions or celery, if you like. Spread this onto slices of bread or buns, top with either grated or sliced cheese, and bake in the oven (I use a toaster oven) for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, I chop up some veggies (carrots, radishes, peppers, etc.) and make a simple dip using yogurt as the base.

Hearty Meal Salad
Time: About 25 minutes.
Use any variety of lettuce or salad greens, and just start adding good salad veggies you have (I love purple cabbage, peppers, carrots, cilantro or parsley, radish, cucumber, tomato, etc.). Hard boil a couple of eggs to chop up and add on top (start boiling the eggs first, as they take the longest). Add a can of salmon or tuna, and/or grated or cubed cheese (or feta), or any leftover meat like chicken or turkey. I often make a simple garlic bread to go with it– mix some butter with either fresh or powdered garlic, spread it on bread and put in toaster oven (or regular oven).

Here are a couple of simple recipe links that I like as well:

Pasta with Creme Freshe and Salmon

Make your own Veggie Sandwich

Now it’s your turn! Please, share with us your favorite quick and simple (but still healthy and homemade) meal ideas and recipes! These can range from simple suggestions, to full recipes– any contribution is welcome (and it doesn’t have to be in the same format as mine)! If you don’t have a blog, please share your contributions in the comments section!

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  1. Taco Bowls-
    Ground Beef, Venison, turkey or shredded chicken – brown up season with taco seasonings such as chili powder, cumin, salt pepper, oregano, and basil and let simmer.
    Put meat into bowls with crushed up tortilla chips and whatever topping you like. We like chips, beans, meat, lettuce, salsa and sour cream. My daughter eats hers with just chips, beans and meat since she can’t have dairy.

    Salmon Patties-
    1 large can of salmon
    1 egg
    about 1/4 cup flour
    garlic or garlic powder
    sometimes I add shredded carrots or spinach to get in some extra veggies

    Mix all this together in a bowl. Drop by large spoonfuls into large skillet that has about 1/4-1/2 inch of coconut oil, and flatten into patties. Brown on both sides. We eat ours with ketchup.

    Fry up about 1/2lb of sausage(you can add onions and peppers if you like) in a large skillet. Transfer sausage to another bowl. In hot skillet add a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and fry up 2-3 grated potatoes. While potatoes are cooking beat up 8-12 eggs, salt, pepper and milk if you want. When potatoes are finished add sausage back in along with egg mixture. Stir a little so everything gets combined and then cook on medium for about 5 minutes until eggs are set around the edges. Then place into 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until eggs aren’t runny anymore. Try not to overcook. You can add cheese on top if you desire. The main thing about this is making sure your skillet still has some oil in it when you add the eggs so it doesn’t overcook. Very versatile recipe you can pretty much add what you want to it.

  2. In addition to an old blog post I linked to via Mr. Linky above (Healthy Mexican Chicken Soup), a few other meals come to mind:

    1. Like Rebekah, we go for taco salads. We especially enjoy the addition of chopped fresh cilantro, avocados, and extra veggies, like cucumber and shredded carrots. I always use a homemade gluten-free taco seasoning mix (the recipe is on my blog in the Recipe Box section).

    2. Omelettes or scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies on top

    3. Cheat Spaghetti. This is a dish my husband brought to our marriage. It works on short notice. Brown and drain 1 pound ground beef, turkey, or bison. Add a jar of high-quality, organic spaghetti sauce. Adjust seasonings with garlic and onion powder, oregano, and a little cayenne pepper. Serve over whole wheat or, as in our home, gluten free pasta. (I like the quinoa-corn GF pasta myself.)

    By the way, Stephanie, this carnival is a great idea! I can’t wait to see everyone’s recipes and tips.

  3. Good idea on the meme, it’s a lot of fun to share healthy meal ideas!

  4. Stephanie,
    these are great ideas. I love the fritatta ideas and veggie sandwich. Once a week I pull out all of the left overs and call it “buffet night”. That’s the quickest meal yet LOL! It’s the one time the kids can be picky and choose what they want on their plate. Thanks for sharing everyone.

  5. I’m really enjoying everyone’s ideas. Here is a partial “off-the-top-of-my-head, go-to” list (with some repeats from what I’ve read.)

    1) Breakfast for supper. Blueberry pancakes or waffles, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit.
    2) Black bean quesadillas. Partially mash 2 cups (or so) black beans (we like texture, but it needs to stick). Mix with some salsa and shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend, Monterrey Jack, whatever we have on hand!). Sometimes I have time to dice and cook a chicken breast to add to the mixture. Spread mixture on 1/2 of a tortilla, fold, warm on a skillet. Serve with more salsa, cheese, and sour cream.
    3) Black bean nachos — I’ll add black beans to stretch our leftover taco meat mixture (which already has black beans in it… we love black beans!). Crumble the mixture over “healthy” tortilla chips, add shredded cheese and heat. Lettuce, tomato, sour cream on top.
    4) Smoothies!!!!! We make them every which way in the summer. I just tried a new one yesterday. Had some leftover canned pumpkin … added vanilla yogurt, frozen bananas, Cinnamon Plus (pampered chef) milk, and ice. It smelled so good! Tasted good, too.

  6. I’ve never posted here before but I’d love to share my fall-back meal: Pear Pancake. I’m sure it has a fancier name, but that’s what my mom called it growing up. It’s also vegetarian, which is unintentional but sometimes nice for a change.

    Put a 13×9 inch baking dish in the oven with a lump of butter (couple of tablespoons) and a can of pears (in their own juices, not in syrup), drained. I use the pear halves (the big can) but you could use chunks. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees and the pears and butter will heat as the oven warms up.

    In the blender put 1 1/2 cups milk, 6 eggs, 1 cup of flour (I use whole wheat), 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of sugar (I use Rapadura but I’m sure anything would work). Blend well.

    Pull pan out of oven when it is sizzling, but before the butter browns. Immediately pour the batter over and put back in oven for about 18-20 minutes until puffed and slightly browned. Slice and serve with a tiny sprinkle of powdered sugar if desired. We eat this with a big salad. I literally make this once a week and everyone loves it.

  7. I love all the ideas! One thing, though, after googling it, it seems that Spike has MSG in it, so people that are sensitive to msg should be careful 🙂 It uses hydrolized protein and some kind of yeast that the truth in labeling people have pointed out as MSG. Just to be aware 😀

  8. Mrs. Taft- Thanks for pointing that out! I swear, they must have changed their ingredients, because I know I’ve looked at it before and we usually avoid anything that has hydrolyzed protein in it (I threw my box out a while ago, and I have a big bulk pack of it, so I haven’t looked at it for a long time). I think that I started buying Spike back before I knew about hydrolyzed protein and so I’ve just had it in my head these last couple years that it was safe??

    Sigh… my hubby loves the stuff and he’ll be so disappointed. And I need to find a replacement. I’ll probably switch over to Herbamare (I know it’s ingredients are safe), but it’s just not as good. Does anyone else have a brand they use that it really tasty?

  9. This was a great “challenge” Stephanie! 🙂 Thanks!

    We do a lot of omelettes, stir fry/fried rice, breakfast food, etc. too. I’ve stopped buying pasta, so that’s another challenging element I’ve added for myself. That used to be our constant “quick meal” option.


  10. When this “Say No To Kraft Dinner” Carnival was first announced last week, I thought about what I could contribute. I was planning to write about one of our family favorites – Tex-Mex Wraps. But I see lots of variations on the same theme – so I won’t take the time to write it down.

    As I sat down tonight to read everyone’s posts – I’m just thrilled with the great ideas. I can’t wait to try them! I’ll just say a big thank you to all of you for your great recipes!

  11. I wanted to contribute to this but since I am dealing with some diet issues right now, I wasn’t able to pull anything together. I really want to get a list like this together soon once I get this new diet down. Thanks for running this though, I saw some great ideas that were contributed.

  12. I am guessing that Kraft Dinner is the boxed macaroni and cheese stuff. I have no idea why a person would use that. It is SO much more economical to buy pasta and cheese. It tastes much better as well. As far as a recipe. I have so many. Quick and easy are my favorite kind of recipe. For kid favorites, hmm…Well, these may be considered breakfast items, but we eat them around the clock.

    Stuffed cresents…brown 1-lb each, Italian sausage and regular breakfast sausage. Drain. Stir in one pkg. cream cheese. Once all meted and mixed together, place in fridge to cool. You can do this the night before or whenever – just give the meat mixture time to cool. Once cool, separate a roll of refigerator cresent rolls. Put a couple of tablespoons of the meat mixture on wide end and roll them up as usual. Bake according to cresent roll directions.
    Another one we like is something I came up with from looking at two other recipes and wanting part of one and part of another, as well as a crust. Scramble some eggs, on LOW heat until pretty soft set. On a lightly floured surface, roll out two rolls of cresent rolls (I just take the whole thing out and roll the tube shape out until about 1/4 of an inch thick. (Don’t forget to check the eggs often.) Sprinkle cubed, shredded or sliced ham (or whatever meat you prefer) over one rolled out roll of cresent rolls. Spread eggs over ham evenly. Sprinkle cheese to your taste over top. Cover with other rolled out roll of cresent rolls, pinch closed. Bake as directed on cresent roll (plus 5-10 minutes) on lightly greased cookie sheet.
    *Note, if you are not familiar with rolling out dough, this will take you a bit longer, but as you get more adept at it your prep time will decrease. The first time I did this it took me over an hour from start to table. The next time it was only about 30-40 minutes. About half of that time was oven time. Even my EXTREMELY finicky daughter likes both of these recipes.

    1. A person would use that because if you’ve ever been to a food bank, you get about 4-6boxes of it without fail each time.

  13. My grandma used to make this meal for us all of the time…my brother and I couldn’t get enough of it….and as for the carrot-raisin salad, we’d fight over who got the left-overs for breakfast!!

    1lb browned ground beef
    1 box rotelli (twisty noodles), I LOVE Barilla Plus
    1 jar pasta sauce (homemade preferred)
    1 can corn (or frozen corn)
    1 can whole olives

    Brown beef, cook noodles, combine all ingredients and serve!

    Carrot-Raisin Salad
    Shred as many carrots as you’ll need
    Add 1 can crushed pineapple (in it’s own juice)
    Add 1 (or so) grated apple
    Add 1 handful of raisins (as many or as few as you like)
    Mix all together and allow to sit for an hour or so (you can eat it immediately, but it’s a bit better when the raisins soften in the juice)

    My children (ages 7, 6 and 3) all LOOOOVE this stuff!

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