The modern family is busy. Although preparing a healthy, home-cooked meal every night sounds nice, it is not always realistic. But not to worry, a quality meal shared with your family does not have to involve hours slaving away in the kitchen. Here are some tips to help serve a dinner you can feel good about, as well as fit into a busy schedule.
Simplicity is Key
Don’t have time to prepare a three course meal? No problem. There are dozens of nutritious, easy meals your family will love that take no more than 20 minutes to make.
- Sandwiches: Try a classic peanut butter and banana with a side of fresh fruit and a tomato and mozzarella salad.
- Eggs: There are so many ways to use eggs. Try them scrambled on toast with your favorite vegetables (spinach, peppers, mushrooms, etc.), or use them in tacos with whole-wheat tortillas, salsa, avocado, and black beans.
- Quesadillas: Again, you can put pretty much anything in a quesadilla. Try one with cheese, any vegetables you have on hand, pinto beans, and chicken or beef if you have any leftover. Pair with fresh fruit or a fresh green salad.
- Fruit and green smoothies can be tasty additions to any meal for some extra nutrition. A side platter of hummus with vegetables can also be used to bulk up your dinner.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
If you happen to find yourself with some downtime on the weekend, consider using that time to set yourself up for success with dinner the rest of the week. You can certainly freeze meals, but the refrigerator is fine too. Just remember: make the food four days in advance, refrigerate, then reheat using the microwave, oven, or stovetop. Leftovers often taste better than the first day (at least I think so) and soups, casseroles, rice, and chicken are perfect meals to carry you through the week.
- Rice with beans: Cut up some fresh vegetables and make a fresh green salad on the side while the rice and beans are reheating. Add salsa and sprinkle some cheese on top for extra flavor.
- Tomato and spinach soup: Prepare ahead of time and make some quick grilled cheese with whole wheat bread while the soup is reheating.
- Spicy Jambalaya with brown rice: Serve a smoothie for dinner that night with an easy side slaw as well.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Convenience Foods
If you really find yourself pressed for time, there are tons of convenience products you don’t have to feel guilty using to complete your meal.
- Packaged salads: These can be perfect additions to dinner. Add grilled chicken, black beans, salmon, or flank steak with whole grain rolls for a complete meal.
- Tomato sauce: Choose varieties lower in sodium and sugar. Prepare some whole grain pasta with chicken sauteed in olive oil.
- Tuna packets: These packets can be used in sandwiches, pasta, or salads with a side of fresh fruit.
- 90-second rice, quinoa, or farro packets: It’s hard to beat 90 seconds. Add some grilled chicken, tuna, or black beans with a side of fresh fruit or a green salad.
Slow Cooker Meals
There are so many simple, one-pot recipes you can throw in the slow cooker in the morning and sit down to eat for dinner that night. Try a chicken and black bean soup, pulled pork with a fresh green salad, white chicken chili, or a casserole.