Good, Better, Best Dinner Ideas for a Busy Family
Grass-fed, organic bison steak cooks significantly faster than traditional steak and is lean and healthy. Add a side of sautéed kale or spinach with olive, sea salt and cracked pepper and a few tomato slices for a healthy meal that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.
Getting dinner on the table and the family around it can be a miraculous feat all on it’s own. But turning out a healthy meal that everyone will eat without spending hours in the kitchen - is that even possible?
We asked busy moms on the front lines how they get out of the convenience food rut to take their dinners from good grief to good for you. Check out their tips and tricks in our Good – Better – Best Dinner Roundup.
Good: It’s six o’clock, you’re stuck in traffic and stomachs are starting to rumble. But you know how to be fast without getting furious with yourself later.
Fast food doesn’t have to mean junk food. Stock your purse with healthy snacks like clementines, nuts and granola bars to help hungry kids hold out until you get home with dinner. Fast food also doesn’t have to come from a drive thru window.
Autumn Calabrese, creator of the 21 Day Fix and working-mom suggests “hitting up the hot bar at Whole Foods or your local grocery store.” She says to, “Choose foods that are prepared fresh and have the ingredients listed or grab a rotisserie chicken and some frozen, steam-in-the-bag organic veggies. Quick, inexpensive and healthier than any fast food chain.”
Helpful tip: Keep a list of local restaurants and grocery stores with salad bars and hot bars on your phone or in your car, so you don’t panic and opt for a #3 combo with super sized fries.
Better: The clock is ticking. There are places to be, homework to do. Can a dinner disaster be avoided? Yes, thanks to your back up plan.
You know it’s only a matter of time before you face a dinner dilemma. Stocking your pantry with quick options for moments like this can really pay off. Packaged convenience foods can definitely save time, but not all of them are created equal. When selecting speedy dinner options, choose organic products that are free of food dyes, trans fat and high fructose corn syrup. By adding organic chicken nuggets to a giant salad or a handful of spinach to a box of frozen, organic macaroni and cheese from Amy's you can have a guilt free dinner on the table before you hear the banging of forks and knives from restless natives.
Kelly Hancock, blogging mom of 2, reminds us “just about anything we make at home is going to be healthier than eating out.” Her staples: Whole grain pasta, a bag of spinach and frozen organic chicken breasts. “With these items on hand, I can always come up with something better than pizza delivery.”
Best: You are the queen of your kitchen and a dinner diva. You’re not up against the clock; you’re ahead of it. Planned. Prepped. No problem.
Getting a jump on your schedule can save a lot of headaches later. Learn to meal plan and meal prep and see what a difference it makes. Set aside one hour a week to work ahead. Chop veggies and cook a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. Store them in glass containers so you can see what you have on hand. Use these items to put together a delicious and nutritious dinner in minutes. A quick and easy dinner salad takes any meal from good to great. Try Pinterest or a meal planning service like The Fresh 20 to build a weekly menu that saves you time, money and calories. Knowing what to make and having the right ingredients on hand gets you 75 percent of the way to a healthy, homemade dinner every night.
If you want to up your meal prep game and make healthy living a lifestyle try one of our challenge groups for 30 days of accountability, support and practice to make these healthy habits your new way of life.
“If dinner isn’t done by noon it’s not gonna get done,” says Kristin Schell, food blogger and mom to four. “Running from school to baseball to dance is the worst possible time to try to decide what’s for dinner. When I have the food prepped or the crockpot going by breakfast I know we’ll have a healthy, homemade dinner that we all feel good about.”
Ready to make dinner a winner for your family? Use these quick and easy recipes to ditch the drive thru and make your dinner time a happy, healthy experience.