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Quick Healthy Meals for Busy Families

Feeding a family is no mean feat. Follow these tips to whip up quick healthy meals in a flash.

Relying on Fast (but Nutritious) Convenience Food

Family life can be crazy, and even the best laid plans for healthy meals go astray.

When you're short on time and have not yet stocked your kitchen, prepared and take-out foods can serve as the centerpiece for quick healthy meals 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 dishes.

“Don’t feel like you have to do everything. There are many wonderful, healthy foods in the supermarket that you can stock at home to help make mealtime a little easier,” Taub-Dix says.

Nothing's quicker than a roasted chicken from your local grocer, served with pre-washed mixed greens. And one slice of thin crust cheese or vegetable pizza served with a large garden or fruit salad will please and nourish your children.

Salge Blake’s version of Mexican Mac and Cheese starts with a box of macaroni and cheese that she cooks according to directions and mixes with 1 cup cooked, canned, drained black beans and 1 cup of salsa. Serve with a green salad and milk for a balanced meal.

Kids love “brinner,” breakfast for dinner, and parents love the ease of serving French toast, scrambled eggs, and waffles, for the evening meal.

Here are some tips for building quick healthy meals for dinner:

  • Store-bought roasted chicken; fresh or frozen vegetables; and a quick-cooking grain, such as whole wheat couscous or quick-cooking brown rice.
  • Frozen spinach and cheese pie; rice; fruit.
  • Fast tacos: Saute one pound of 100% ground turkey breast meat, season and serve with taco shells, salsa, shredded reduced-fat cheese, shredded lettuce and chopped tomato. Add fruit and milk.
  • Thin-crust cheese pizza topped with veggies; garden salad with reduced-fat dressing. Serve with milk or 100% juice.
  • Whole-grain frozen waffles topped with low-fat vanilla yogurt and fruit, such as sliced strawberries; serve with milk.
  • Cheese and vegetable omelets or scrambled eggs; fruit or vegetables; whole-grain toast or rolls; serve with milk
  • 100% ground turkey breast burgers or prepared veggie burgers on whole-wheat buns; cooked broccoli; serve with milk.
  • Pasta and prepared marinara sauce combined with leftover chopped roasted or grilled chicken or garbanzo beans added to it; garden salad; serve with milk.
  • Personal homemade pizzas: whole-grain English muffin, thin crust pizza round, or whole wheat tortilla topped with pasta or pizza sauce or sliced tomato and shredded reduced-fat cheese; garden salad; fruit.


Ready to Stock Your Kitchen?

You may not shop for food regularly but it’s possible to rustle up quick healthy meals in minutes when you keep these basics on hand. Take this shopping list with you on your next trip to the supermarket.

  • Eggs
  • Canned light tuna and canned salmon
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Grated hard cheese, such as reduced-fat cheddar
  • Frozen or canned fruit and vegetables
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Canned beans, such as garbanzo and black beans
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Peanut butter or sunflower seed butter
  • Milk
  • Bread crumbs or crushed whole-grain cereal for breading
  • Olive oil
  • Marinara spaghetti sauce
  • Low-fat plain yogurt
  • Pasta
  • 93% lean ground beef (freeze)
  • Ground 100% turkey breast meat
Reviewed on October 04, 2010

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