Dinner time can be such a hassle! Some nights, I get home late from work and 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 make sure to plan for one vegetarian dinner so we can meet our goals of reducing meat in our lifestyle. Sometimes, I even get away with two vegetarian dinners. Pasta (even gluten-free) tends to be the key to making everyone feel full and not miss meat!
Meal planning and prepping does not have to take a lot of time. Especially when it comes to dinner. If you plan the 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 frozen vegetable flavors are very tame. Of course, always look for organic to avoid any pesticides or GMOs.
If you are trying to have a meatless Monday 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. Add a salad and you have a healthy and nourishing vegetarian meal. Now you may be thinking, roasted potatoes take time. That's right they do!
I ask for help in the kitchen when I am planning on making 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 plan on making it on a specific day. It doesn't have to be perfect. But I bet you that person will feel satisfaction that they were able to contribute to dinner.
Below are 5 dinners that can be modified in easy ways to make them faster and easier to make during the week. I'll make sure to give you my helpful tips and tricks to cutting down on the time needed to make each dinner. If you make any of the recipes I share below, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing your takes on the recipes!
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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 plastic container in the refrigerator. Click here for the recipe.
Skillet Chicken Fajitas from Recipe Runner. There is nothing faster than fajitas. Especially since you can buy chicken tenders in the grocery store, which means no chopping up chicken breasts! Chicken tenders are the perfect size for fajitas. 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 to give you an idea about having a meatless dinner night. 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. The recipe also uses broccoli florets, which I would use frozen to speed along the process. Click here for the recipe.
Just a reminder, organic ingredients will make the above recipes taste even better and healthier for you. Organic ingredients are higher in nutrients helping to support your body's inherent need to be healthy. If you try any of the recipes, let me know what you think! Enjoy!