5 quick foods for busy parents | ready in 20 minutes

Parenting has never been easy. And during the past years’ lockdowns, many people found it difficult to work from home and find enough time to cook healthy meals for their children.

When you’re single, anything can go. But when you have to take care of kids, you have to plan ahead, keep track of what’s healthy, find something they like, come up with a varied diet…

Sometimes you can do with just a little imagination. When I don’t feel like cooking too much, I make myself a bowl of salad with tuna, sliced onion and chunks of feta, which is a quick and nutritious solution for adults and kids alike.

But you can’t make kids eat the same dish every day.

Besides, just because you don’t have time, it doesn’t mean you can’t make something that looks fancy.

That’s why I wrote this list of Italian foods you can make for your children in less than 20 minutes. Let’s start right away!

Table of Contents

Spaghetti in bianco

The first busy parents’ recipe of this listicle post is one of the things I usually cook when I’m in a big hurry.

Spaghetti in bianco simply consists of a plate of plain spaghetti, seasoned with olive oil and greated parmesan cheese. 

It’s similar to spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, which is my favorite quick pasta dish, but it doesn’t have garlic or chili peppers, which can be difficult to appreciate for children. 

It’s simple, it’s quick, and if you add the extra ingredients mentioned above, it can help against colds in the winter. An emergency solution for when you’re really pressed for time.

I loved it when I was a kid, but not all children have the same tastes, so let’s look at some other alternatives.

Lemon Pasta

This is another quick pasta dish that you can make for the whole family in about 15 minutes, and with less than $5. 

You just need to simmer some lemon peels in olive oil, and than cook the spaghetti in the same saucepan, following a method that we call risottare in Italy. 

If you want to try it out, I’ve written a step-by-step recipe.

This process will make the spaghetti absorb all the healthy substances in the lemon peels, and will also give them a zesty, refreshing flavor. 

a black plate with freshly made lemon pasta on top of it

Caprese Salad

I’ve already talked about it in an article about Italian foods for students on a budget.

Oh, let’s be honest, both me and the other authors at Mortadella Head mention it everytime we can. 

And for good reasons.

Caprese is a dish originally from the island of Capri made with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. It is very healthy, as it combines the excellent nutritional qualities of tomatoes with the proteins of mozzarella.

Plus, it takes very little time to make.

You just need to wash the tomatoes, slice them together with the mozzarella, pour a little oil, and dinner is served. Your kids are gonna love it. If you’ve never tried it, check our easy caprese salad recipe!


One thing that you can probably tell from my posts is that I love food from Emilia Romagna. The last two elements on this listicle post are both from the region.

First, I’m gonna start with piadina.

Why is it the perfect quick food for working moms and dads? Because, as well as the other foods you just read about, this is not only a food that can be made in less than a few minutes, it’s also inexpensive, very tasty, and children usually like it.

Piadina combines the warmth of focaccia and cooked cheese with the tasty flavor of prosciutto. It’s the perfect occasion to hide some spinach in there without your kids noticing

To do this, you simply need to heat up some piadina bread sheets in a pan, one at a time. As they cook, put a little cheese on top of them to melt it, and then add the ham (and occasional veggies). Fold everything over, and your piadina is ready.

Frozen Lasagna

Ok, that’s a bit like cheating (and maybe a little selfish, since we’re shipping it online 😅), but hear me out. 

Sometimes, there are evenings in which life is just too much and even spending a few minutes on the stove can feel exhausting. 

For those cases, it’s always better to keep some frozen food in the freezer, and I think that lasagna is just the best option. 

You can find some great homemade lasagna around (or make it yourself with our recipes), and just leave it in the freezer until you need it. If you freeze it well and keep it in an airtight container, it can last for up to 3 months. 

It might be the perfect common ground between your need to do something without too much effort, and your kids’ desire for warm, tasty food.

All you’ll have to do is turn on the oven and preheat it to 356° F, then let your lasagna thaw until it’s hot and creamy.

While the lasagna is cooking, you can simply sit back with a cup of tea in hand and listen to your kids’ stories about how their day went… and voilà, dinner is served.

As always, I hope this article comes in handy. Have fun making your kids’ next dinner!

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