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Fast Dinners ~ Lets Taco ‘Bout It

(Spoiler alert: This quick family meal is NOT about tacos but rather quesadillas.)

(Teaser: What foods should you stock in your house so that you can make FAST and healthy meals too?)

Quick no-fail dinner: Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla

Kids soccer ends at 6:30pm, and after driving post-practice carpool, we won’t get home until about 7pm.  I had teriyaki tofu marinating in the fridge in addition pre-marinated steaks purchased at the farm.  If I make pasta and a chopped salad, we won’t be eating till closer to 7:45/8pm at best.  That’s too late for a school night.


Ahhhh….. yes.  The school year has begun!  If you are like me- a mom with a busy schedule, many moving parts, making a tremendous effort for THIS year to be organized and calm, while also focused on good health AND in a convenient manner – then listen up.

Keep these food staples in your house:

Canned beans: Any kind. My family favorites are black, garbanzo, and Great Northern beans.  Reason? You can add beans to ANYTHING.  Salads, mixed pasta dishes, meat or vegetarian sauces, rice dishes, curry dishes, etc.  Packed with protein and fiber.

Tortillas: I prefer whole wheat (for obvious higher fiber, less processed reasons), but there are many gluten free and freshly prepared versions out there.  Reason?  You can toast or heat tortillas for any reason and for any meal.  Less bread with your eggs in the morning, toasted into chips and dunk into hummus, mince up left overs and add cheese and make quesadillas. (Ah-hem, we are getting there…)  Options are endless.  They also freeze well, so I like to keep a pack in my freezer at all times.

Salsa:  I buy mild as this is a least common denominator in my home.  I may, single handedly, keep hot sauce in business to give my salsa a kick.  Reason?  Does there need to be one?  It’s salsa! It’s an instant party!  (And if you are adventurous, you can add fresh or canned corn, diced mango, and other fresh veggies to your salsa for a “home-made” effect.)

Sprinkled cheese:  Fancy, not fancy, Taco-seasoned, you name it.  I would stick with whole fat which melts better than low fat.  (The exception being Part-skim mozzarella, which is harder to find whole fat.)  Reason? Dress up your eggs, easy grilled cheese, ready for your pasta dishes, sprinkle on potatoes, add to your salads.  Sprinkled cheese is a convenient way to getting more calcium in your day.

Fresh veggies:  Whatever you like and based on the season.  If you don’t have time to prepare veggies, then at least cut up fresh ones and go.  Reason?  Veggies are an essential part of your daily balanced diet.  No fresh? Buy frozen.

Taco and Onion Soup dry mix:  You never know when you need extra flavor. I buy these in bulk.  Reason? Just trust me.

Last night I decided that I didn’t have time for tofu and steak.  Therefore, I used what I had to make dinner.  Using whole wheat tortillas, I heated them on a large pan with some SmartBalance spread.  I had left over chicken breast in my fridge from another dinner, and white rice from left over Chinese food. (I prefer brown, but I used what I had.)  Using a fresh packet of Taco seasoning, I diced the chicken and added these two together in a pan with a little water.

I layered the tortilla with sprinkled cheese, diced taco-seasoned chicken*, small amounts of mild salsa, sprinkles of white rice, and more cheese before putting the 2nd tortilla on top.  I cooked them for a few minutes on medium heat (without burning) and flipped.  Cooking time should not exceed 10 minutes.

Black beans, Chicken, Salsa, Cheese, Quesadillas, leftovers
Making chicken and cheese quesadillas with left overs and food staples.

It took me 25 minutes to make a healthy, convenient, easy, and satisfying family meal.

Happy back to school, everyone!

~ Emma


*This meal can easily be prepared vegetarian, either substituting the chicken for tofu, or omitting all together.

Full disclosure: I was not paid to officially endorse any aforementioned products.  Blog post reflects my personal food preferences.