A 20 minute meal idea for when you have no idea what make for dinner

A meal planning strategy that works: How to make one meal that satisfies everyone in the family
March 13, 2018
Crustless Spinach Quiche made in 5 minutes
May 3, 2018

Thank you to my friends at Alberta Milk for partnering with me to bring you this sponsored blog post, helping you energize your nutrition, one bite at a time.

It’s the end of the day and it’s been a long one!  You arrive home and all you feel like doing is throwing down your work bag, and collapsing on the couch. The last thing you feel like doing is cooking. What feels worse is that you have no inspiration coming at you, leaving you with that sinking feeling – what the heck am I going to make for dinner?


We’ve all been there. You have hungry mouths to feed – and nothing is organized for dinner. Maybe you forgot to thaw out something from the freezer. Or your kitchen is still a disaster from yesterday and you have no desire to create more dirty dishes. Or maybe it’s the end of the week and you need to grocery shop but haven’t made it there yet. Whatever the reason, here you are, it’s 5:30 and you’ve got to get something on the table. Do you order in? Go out for dinner? Or begrudgingly try to put something together?

If you are looking for a meal idea that is fast, quick and straight-forward, I’ve got you covered with this 20-minute meal idea, using foods you are likely to have in your house. You can even take this simple meal and “dress it up” with a few small tweaks. Read on.


Grocery list for this 20-minute meal idea:

*Items listed in italics are optional


What is this 20 minute meal idea?

Weeknight Tomato Soup + Grilled Cheese Croutons.

Soup is an excellent option for weeknight meals. Tomato soup is classically paired with grilled cheese. You can find pre-made tomato soups at the grocery store, both canned and more artisanal boxed versions. However, you can also make it yourself – and it is easier to make than you think. Try this recipe for Weeknight Tomato Soup or this Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque.

Why grilled cheese is a great option for a quick week night meal

Grilled cheese is a family favourite in our house. It is something we often make on the weekend for lunch, and sometimes, we make them for school lunches (throw in your grilled cheese into a pre-warmed thermos). My kids love the gooey cheese with toasted bread and dip it in ketchup. So when a food is this well-loved and is quick to make, why not have it in your weeknight recipe repertoire for nights where you need something quick and simple?


When you look at the ingredients needed to make grilled cheese, it includes foods that we almost always have in our home.

  • We usually (99% of the time!) have a fresh loaf of bread plus extra loaves in the freezer.
  • We usually have at least one block of cheese and more often, a few different kinds of cheese available.
  • We usually have butter in our fridge plus extras in the freezer for baking.


You can round out your meal of Grilled Cheese with simple healthy sides:

A sandwich by itself may not be totally filling or balanced. Complete your meal with an additional side of vegetables or fruit:

  • Sliced cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Canned pears
  • Side salad
  • Tomato Soup



Grilled cheese 2.0: How to take grilled cheese from ordinary to extra-ordinary:

You can take this simple, ordinary meal of grilled cheese and make it extra-ordinary in a few simple ways:


Swap out your bread: While grocery shopping, you stop by the bread and bakery section anyways. It doesn’t take much effort to purchase a different kind of bread. Try these:

  • Ancient grain whole grain
  • Rye
  • Flax seed
  • High fiber white
  • A multigrain baguette.


Switch up your cheese: You are walking by the dairy case anyways. Why not grab your family’s favourite kind of cheese and maybe even add in a second or third kind of cheese for a simple way to kick up the flavour of your meals? Here are some cheeses to consider:

  • Mozzarella
  • White cheddar
  • Applewood smoked cheddar
  • Brie
  • Gouda
  • Goat


Add in a fun flavourizer: Grilled cheese sandwiches can be upgraded in a snap by adding in a fun flavourizer! Here are a few ideas to get you salivating:

  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Left over roasted vegetables.
  • Date jam + sautéed onions
  • Ham and pineapple
  • Pickles
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pesto
  • Cut up tomato + fresh basil


Switch up the shape in which your grilled cheese is presented for simple, weeknight fun:

My kids smile when I take something as ordinary as a sandwich and then offer it to them in the shape of a heart, a star or a helicopter by simply using a cookie cutter. Other fun shapes that transform an ordinary sandwich into something fun include:

  • Triangles
  • Croutons
  • Triple stacked grilled cheese (a great way to use up that annoying end piece on a loaf of bread)
  • Serve on a skewer.

So when the dinner fairy doesn’t arrive at your house to magically create you a fast dinner, here is the next best option. Grilled cheese 2.0. Enjoy this recipe for a Weeknight Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

1 Comment

  1. So fast, easy and delicious! And not to mention also great for meal prepping lunches!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.