Healthy Dinner Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Between after-school activities, sports, piano lessons and ballet your schedule is busier than ever this season. But that doesn't mean that healthy dinners need to fall to the wayside. Here are five easy tricks to get a wholesome family meal on the table without the headache.
Prep fresh foods on grocery day The minute after bringing those bags into the house, wash and cut up vegetables and fruits, and store them in the fridge. This way they’ll be ready to toss into salads, stir-frys, and baking dishes throughout the week.
Plan your meals in advance You don’t have to put a five-course meal on the table every day (or any day, really!), but setting aside 15 minutes on Sunday to decide that you’re going to have chili on Wednesday and baked quinoa and spinach on Thursday will cut down the “what’s for dinner” chaos when you get home at night.
Keep it simple A home-cooked meal on a weeknight doesn’t need to look like Thanksgiving dinner. Opt for easy recipes with only a handful of ingredients and look for shortcuts. My favorite chicken hack: Plop a breast in the center of a square sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle it with organic mustard and local honey, fold up the corners to create a packet, and toss it in a 375 degree oven for 24 minutes—it comes out juicy every time! Serve it with spinach and fresh, sliced zucchini.
Cook once, eat twice This is a mantra I picked up while studying nutrition that I love passing on. There’s no shame in serving leftovers, and if you’ve got picky eaters who poo-poo having Monday night’s baked chicken again on Tuesday, simply turn it into something else easy--like chicken tacos--by adding different spices. Another time saver: I like to dice and roast three pounds of sweet potatoes at a time. I’ll serve them as a side dish at dinner, pop them chilled onto a bed of kale for lunch the next day, and scramble them with eggs for breakfast later in the week.
Don’t sweat serving mac & cheese Yes, our bodies do best when we eat whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein, but we all have those nights when it’s hard to find the energy to boil water. Slipping in something processed every once in a while isn’t going to hurt anyone—the key is to make it more balanced by adding veggies. Turn a box of organic macaroni and cheese into a healthier meal by adding a can of organic beans and a jar of stewed tomatoes or a cup of frozen peas and a can of wild-caught tuna. Present it on a bed of leafy greens for bonus points.
By healthy lifestyle expert Kimberly Daly
Kimberly A. Daly is a freelance writer and editor. She has held staff positions at Shape, Glamour, Fitness, and Good Housekeeping magazines. When she's not flipping through the latest issue of National Geographic or putting together a health or beauty article, you can find her doing laps of New York City's Central Park. Kim has completed three marathons (NYC 2009, Marine Corps 2010, and Boston 2011) and is training for her next to-be-determined endurance challenge. Check out her blog Some Kind Of Runderful.