Dinner time can be such a hassle! Some nights, it is struggle to get dinner on the table. Meal planning and prepping on the weekend is a big help. There are so many affordable options that can be prepped ahead and are healthy.
I even plan two plant based dinners each week so we can meet our goals of reducing how much meat we eat. I am plant based 4 days a week but my husband has only recently decided to eat plant based dinners two times a week. I am very proud of him making that decision. It just isn't healthy for us to eat large amounts of meat every single day.
Meal planning and prepping does not have to take a lot of time. Especially when it comes to dinner. When planning meals on the weekend, simply think about what can be done ahead of time to make life easier during the week. One really easy tip is to pre-chop fresh vegetables and put them in a storage bag or plastic container in the crisper. Now all you have to do is cook them!
Another big help is using frozen chopped vegetables instead of fresh. I use frozen broccoli, cauliflower and spinach frequently. They cook quickly and lend themselves very well to sauces and spices. In fact, fresh broccoli and cauliflower can be a bit overpowering in taste but when they are frozen, their flavor is very tame. Of course, always look for organic to avoid any pesticides or GMOs.
If you are trying to eat at least one plant based dinner, a quick tip is to buy frozen, organic veggie burgers. You can serve them with or without a bun. I like to serve them without a bun but make roasted potatoes or red beans and rice or bagged noodles with sauce. While the bagged noodles are not that healthy, they are my husband's favorite. I am willing to compromise for him since he is not eating meat.
One thing you have to get skilled at is asking for help when making dinner is hectic. I ask for help in the kitchen when I am cooking something like roasted potatoes. Why do you think you have to do it all? Simply show the person who is going to help you how to make the side dish and then ask them to make it on a specific day. It doesn't have to be perfect. Also, I bet the person who is helping you will feel satisfaction that they were able to contribute to dinner.
Meal planning and prepping is a great way to make sure the entire family is eating healthy. When we don't plan for healthy meals, it is easy to fall into the trap of ordering take out or buying pre-made meals from grocery stores. While we would like to think we can get healthy meals from restaurants and grocery stores, we really can't.
The reality is take-out meals are full of preservatives, sugar and fat that we don't need in our lives or our digestive tract. Have you ever noticed that you may feel bloated and gassy after eating a take-out meal? How about being constipated for a couple of days? While eating take-out can be something we do occasionally, like once a month, it shouldn't be a regular routine.
A study was performed analyzing nutritional quality of restaurant meals. At full service restaurants, about 50 percent of the meals were of poor nutritional quality. One of the researchers stated: "Our food is the number one cause of poor health in the country, representing a tremendous opportunity to reduce diet-related illness and associated healthcare spending." (Source: Science Daily)
The only way to fix the nutritional quality of the food at restaurants is for the restaurants to change the type of food and how they cook it. That will only happen if customers vote with their wallets.
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To start planning healthy cooked at home meals, below are dinner recipes that can be modified in easy ways to cook them faster and easier during hectic weeks. I'll give you my helpful tips and tricks for cutting down time needed to make each dinner.
One Pot Chicken Sausage Bean Ragout from Cookin Canuck. This recipe comes together in 30 minutes. It is also a recipe that can be made on the weekend for a quick heat and eat weeknight dinner. Any type of sausage will do if you don't care for chicken sausage, such as turkey sausage. The recipe relies on canned tomatoes and beans which makes it a very quick dinner. I would make extra of this dinner dish in order to have left-overs for lunch. Click here for the recipe.
One Pot Tortellini Minestrone Soup from Spoonful of Flavor. I love soup for dinner! It is so hearty and filling. Serve it with a mixed salad and you get a lot of veggies in one meal. Plus, soup can be made ahead of time and then reheated. Some even say soup is better the second day so the flavors can meld together. The veggies in this soup are zucchini, green beans, carrots and celery. If you prefer to make this during the week, you can shorten prep time by chopping up the veggies on the weekend and putting in a baggie or storage container in the refrigerator. Click here for the recipe.
Skillet Chicken Fajitas from Recipe Runner. There is nothing faster than fajitas. Especially since you buy chicken tenders in the grocery store. Chicken tenders are the perfect size for fajitas and you don't have to chop up chicken breasts! I buy bagged lettuce (already chopped), packaged shredded cheese and the only thing left to do is chop some tomatoes or avocado. Then let everyone make their own. Click here for the recipe.
Slow Cooker Taco Lentil Soup from Ambitious Kitchen. Slow cookers are a great way to quickly get dinner on the table. Simply put all the ingredients into a slow cooker and put on low before leaving for work or a day of errands. When you come home, dinner is served. This is a vegetarian recipe but if you must have meat, you can add chopped up chicken, ground pork or ground beef. Click here for the recipe.
20 Minute Chicken and Rice Skillet Dinner from Home Cooking Memories. The key to this recipe is to use quick cooking rice. If you are like me and don't care for quick cooking rice, given the lower nutrients in it, simply make the rice ahead of time and put it into the skillet after the chicken has cooked for 15 minutes. Another great time saver are the products from Seeds of Change. They sell organic rice and rice blends that are ready in 90 seconds! Since they are precooked, simply add when the recipe is almost done. The recipe calls for broccoli florets. I would use frozen to speed along the process. Click here for the recipe.
Cauliflower Rice Black Bean Burrito Bowl from Kitchen Treaty. This is the simplest dinner recipe because you can use frozen cauliflower rice, beans from a can and then simply chop up tomatoes and slice an avocado. DONE! Click here for the recipe.
Sun-Dried Tomato And Lentil Salad from Garlic Matters. Lentils take about as much time to cook as rice. Most people think they take a lot longer to cook. 20 minutes leaves you time to chop up the other ingredients. Better yet, make this recipe over the weekend and toss it with the dressing included in the recipe. The salad will soak up the dressing and taste really yummy! Click here for the recipe.
I hope you enjoyed this post on how to plan for and cook healthy meals. Healthy food does not need to take a lot of time to cook or prep. Once you get into a routine of cooking meals at home, you'll see how easy it can be.
Do you think you will try any of the recipes above? Let me know by leaving a comment below.