Healthy Meals for Busy Families
Feeding a family is no mean feat. Follow these tips to whip up nutritious, delicious fare in a flash.
For Healthy Dinners, Plan to Succeed
For Chicago's Janet Helm, a working mother of 2-year old twins, planning is
paramount for preparing healthy meals, particularly dinner. "You can't make
nutritious foods without a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer,"
says Helm, who is also a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant.
"Knowing what you have on hand and where it is streamlines meal
Helm notes that a well-stocked kitchen doesn't mean every meal is made from
scratch. Frozen seafood, store-bought roasted chicken, and pre-cut and frozen
fruits and vegetables are high
on her shopping list because they are good for you and easy to use.
She tosses sautéed or frozen vegetables into store-bought spaghetti sauce
for a healthy pasta dish. In a rush, she'll defrost veggie burgers, marinated
meats, and frozen fish fillets for quick entrees (Tip: place individual pieces
in a sealed plastic bag and immerse in a bowl of hot water. The meat or fish
will defrost quickly without par-cooking).
Relying on Fast (but Nutritious) Food
When you're short on time and have not yet stocked your kitchen, prepared
and take-out foods can serve as the centerpiece of a meal or as a side dish. A
quick trip to the supermarket or a phone call to the local pizza parlor can be
the beginning of a balanced meal as long as you include the right side
Nothing's quicker than a roasted chicken from your local supermarket, served
with pre-washed mix greens. And one slice of pizza served with a large garden
or fruit salad will both please and nourish your children.
Also, don't be shy about serving breakfast foods, such as French toast and
waffles, for the evening meal. They're healthy and kids love the idea of having
breakfast at night. Here are some tips for building healthy dinners:
- Store-bought roasted chicken; fresh or frozen vegetables; and a
quick-cooking grain, such as packaged couscous or quick-cooking brown rice
- Frozen spinach and cheese pie (available at Trader Joe's and supermarkets);
- Thin-crust cheese pizza topped with veggies; garden salad with reduced-fat
dressing; milk or 100% juice
- Whole-grain frozen waffles topped with low-fat vanilla yogurt and fruit,
such as sliced strawberries; milk
- Cheese and vegetable omelets or scrambled eggs; fruit or vegetables;
whole-grain toast or rolls; milk
- 100% ground turkey breast burgers or prepared veggie burgers on whole-wheat
buns; cooked broccoli; milk
- Pasta and prepared marinara sauce with leftover chopped roasted or grilled
chicken or garbanzo beans added to it; garden salad
- Homemade pizza: whole-grain English muffin or pizza round topped with pasta
or pizza sauce or sliced tomato and shredded cheese; garden salad
Ready to Stock Your Pantry?
You may not shop for food regularly but you can rustle up a meal in minutes
when you keep these basics in the kitchen. Take this shopping list with you on
your next trip to the supermarket.
___Canned tuna or salmon
___Grated hard cheese, such as cheddar
___Frozen or canned fruit and vegetables
___Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast
___Canned beans, such as garbanzo
___Bread crumbs or crushed whole-grain cereal for breading
___Marinara spaghetti sauce