The lazy days of summer are waning, and kids are returning to sports practices and other evening activities. Busy schedules often get in the way of a family dinner. Instead of calling for pizza or hitting the drive-through, try these ideas for cutting mealtime prep without sacrificing time.
1) Meat always takes the longest to cook, so get a head start. Start the day by putting chicken, roast, or pork in the crockpot. It will be ready by the time you get home, and then it’s just a matter of dressing it up with some side dishes. You can even cook some of those with the meat! Try It: Lean pork roast with baby carrots and red potatoes .
2) Stock the freezer and pantry. Frozen veggies are super convenient, there’s no waste, and they have just as much (if not more) nutrition than fresh. Keep pasta sauce, whole grain pasta or noodles, canned chicken or tuna, and brown rice available in the pantry. Try It: Pair frozen stuffed shells with a bag of frozen broccoli, and a loaf of whole grain bread.
3) Rotisserie chicken is a wonderful way to cut dinner prep time significantly. It’s also a versatile leftover! Try It: Rotisserie chicken with a bagged salad and a microwave “baked” sweet potato.
4) Keep sandwich stuff on hand. A favorite at our house is a baked fish sandwich with a side of frozen veggies. Try It: Veggie burger on a whole grain bun with a side of precut carrots, celery, and hummus.
5) Dress up a salad for dinner, to make it a one-dish meal that is filling and healthy. Top it with tuna, chicken, or beans for protein.
Try It: A bag of romaine lettuce, top with pre-cooked grilled chicken strips, black beans, grape tomatoes, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and crushed tortilla chips for a healthy spin on a taco salad.