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24 Ways to Make Dinner Faster

Our Taste of Home Live culinary experts share their tricks to putting dinner on the table quickly, even on the busiest nights. Follow these tricks to prep, cook and plan like a pro—your life just got a whole lot easier!

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Make it 5 or fewer.Taste of Home

Make it 5 or fewer.

Keep it simple! A meal doesn’t have to contain a lot of ingredients to be delicious. You can add grilled chicken to a pile of salad greens or toss pasta with blackened salmon, butter, lemon and steamed peas or broccoli.

5-Ingredient Honey-Mustard Breaded Chicken Recipe

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 Choose quick-cooking proteins.Taste of Home

Choose quick-cooking proteins.

Saute a piece of fish in minutes and serve it over quinoa, which is a complete protein and takes only 15 minutes to cook. Or quickly thaw and cook some shrimp and roll in tortillas with coleslaw and a dressing of your choice.

Super-Quick Shrimp & Green Chili Quesadillas Recipe

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Taste of Home

Make tonight “sandwich night.”

Lay out a spread of hoagie buns, favorite fixings and paper plates and let the crew help themselves. Cleanup should be a breeze — just close up the bags, seal the jars, toss the plates and wash the utensils.

Quick Turkey Focaccia Club Recipe

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 Make ahead and freeze.Taste of Home

Make ahead and freeze.

Make double batches of recipes when making dinner. That way, you can serve half and freeze half for another day when you don’t have time to cook.

Freezer-Friendly Chicken Potpie Recipe

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 Maximize prep time.Taste of Home

Maximize prep time.

Prep as much as you can at one time. If onions are used in more than one recipe you will prepare during the week, then do all the chopping on the first day. Keep the prepped onions in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Flavorful Chicken Fajitas with Chopped Veggies Recipe

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 Use a scrap bowl.Shutterstock / ProPhotoPlace

Use a scrap bowl.

When you are prepping food, keep a large bowl handy to discard trimmings and trash while you are working so you don’t make repeated trips to the trash can.

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 Get out your skillet.Taste of Home

Get out your skillet.

Have a few one-dish skillet recipes in your weeknight arsenal. Dinner will cook faster, and you’ll only dirty one dish. Win-win.

Sausage & Vegetable Skillet Dinner Recipe

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 Go rotisserie.Taste of Home

Go rotisserie.

Buy rotisserie chicken for recipes that call for cooked chicken. You’ll save a ton of prep time.

Mom’s Rotisserie Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe

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 Keep spaghetti staples on hand.

Keep spaghetti staples on hand.

Always keep a package of ground beef in the freezer and pasta and pasta sauce in the pantry for those last-minute “can’t decide what to cook” moments. Spaghetti is always a good choice.

Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers Recipe

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 Pre-wash produce.Shutterstock / djero.adlibeshe

Pre-wash produce.

Wash all produce when you get home from the store so you can just grab and go when it is time to cook.

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 Pre-cook pasta.

Pre-cook pasta.

Make pasta ahead and refrigerate it in a Ziploc bag. It’ll keep for about a week. Heat it up in the microwave before serving.

Freezable Big-Batch Marinara Sauce Recipe

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 Prep side salads ahead.

Prep side salads ahead.

Buy all the fresh heads of lettuce you will need for the week, wash the lettuce and allow to dry, tear into small pieces and store in an extra-large sealable bowl or bag in the fridge. Instant side salads!

That Good Salad Recipe

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 Prep ahead. Cook later.

Prep ahead. Cook later.

On the weekends, make a couple of main dishes ahead of time. Meat loaf is a good choice. Prep the recipe, shape it and hold it until Monday. Then all you have to do is throw it in the oven.

Make-Ahead All-American Meat Loaf Recipe

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 Make every night family night.

Make every night family night.

Assign a prep or cleanup task to each member of the family. It makes for a quick prep, fosters cooperation and the family will have a fun time sharing the news of the day.

Kid-Friendly BBQ Meat Loaf Minis Recipe

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Try “heat and eat” grains.

Look for grains that come in microwave-ready pouches. This handy cooking method cuts the prep time for favorites such as long grain wild rice, jasmine rice and basmati rice.

Super Quick Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

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 Make breakfast for dinner.

Make breakfast for dinner.

Make quick-cooking omelets for dinner. Bonus if you use up leftovers! Serve with breadsticks.

Mediterranean Broccoli & Cheese Omelet Recipe

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 Make personal tortilla pizzas.

Make personal tortilla pizzas.

Use tortillas for making individual thin-crust pizzas. Place tortillas on a baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese, before returning to the oven to melt the cheese. Easy and tasty!

Grilled Veggie Tortillas Recipe

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 Fire up the grill for kabobs.

Fire up the grill for kabobs.

Gas and electric grills preheat quickly. Ham steaks and smoked kielbasa are fully cooked and take minutes to heat up. Thread bite-sized pieces on skewers with peppers, onions and pineapple.

Kielbasa Chicken Kabobs Recipe

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 Make hot dog bun breadsticks.

Make hot dog bun breadsticks.

Use hot dog buns for breadsticks. Open buns, place on a baking sheet, and spread the cut sides with butter. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Toast under the broiler until lightly browned. Dip in spaghetti sauce.

Crispy Garlic Bun Breadsticks Recipe

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 Combine homemade and deli.

Combine homemade and deli.

Combine prepared ingredients from the grocery store with easily homemade items. Make sandwiches with a side of deli macaroni or potato salad, or grab burgers from your favorite restaurant and serve them with a homemade tossed salad.

Caramelized Swiss Buns with Deli Ham Recipe

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 Wing it!

Wing it!

If you have a small fryer, fry up some wings. While the wings cook, cut up some celery and carrots and serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Make it even easier with bottled barbeque sauce!

Buffalo Chicken Wings Recipe

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 Get some input.

Get some input.

Make a list of the meals for the week. Ask family members to add the sides or simple dessert that they would like with each meal.

Easy 3-Ingredient Potato Chip Clusters Recipe

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 Have an indoor picnic.

Have an indoor picnic.

Make egg salad sandwiches and have a picnic while watching a favorite show together. Serve fruit, veggies or chips on the side.

Creamy Egg Salad Sandwich Recipe

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 Steam it.

Steam it.

To cut simmering time for soups and stews, get a head start by using a microwave steamer bag to precook potatoes and other vegetables.

No-Fuss Potato Soup Recipe