For Quick, Healthy Meals at Dinner, Plan to Succeed
No matter what the meal, planning is paramount for preparing quick and nutritious dishes. “It’s important to have all the ‘ammunition’ you need in your cabinets and fridge for healthy meals,” says Taub-Dix.
Salge Blake recommends to “get it and forget it” by shopping for food on a regular basis. Scrambling for ingredients wastes time and causes frustration, especially at dinner.
“Everyone thinks it’s so time-consuming to plan, but you actually waste time by not planning,” she says.
A well-stocked kitchen doesn’t mean you need to make every dish from scratch all the time, however.
“Although I adore cooking and baking, I don’t always have the time to make everything every day from scratch, and I often rely on convenience items, such as frozen vegetables and store-roasted whole chicken with a few side dishes when time is tight,” she says.
Taub-Dix likes to do “makeovers.” She prepares a meal, then uses the remaining food to create another dish the next night.
For example, she roasts a turkey and serves it one night with sweet potatoes, red bliss potatoes, and green beans. The next night, Taub-Dix combines the leftover turkey, green beans, and potatoes with frozen vegetables, prepares a simple low-fat sauce, and tops the entire mixture with frozen puff pastry dough to make a turkey potpie.
Cook once, eat twice is also Salge Blake’s advice. She recommends preparing a double batch of chili or beef stew on the weekends and using the leftovers for the next few days.
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.