Quick and tasty suppers

Published 7:20 pm Friday, May 5, 2017

As the weather gets nicer, we find ourselves being more active outside with less time to plan meals. This is also often the time that the children have sports practices or events after school. It’s often hard to offer a nutritious dinner when the family seems to all be going in different directions in the evening, but quick meals don’t need to be unhealthy meals.

For those busy days, here are some tips to plan simple menus that are healthy and will save you money:

  • Prepare double batches of everybody’s favorite foods on days when time allows, freeze in individual dishes and use later to be cooked or reheated. By making your own “frozen meals,” everybody can have what they want, when they want.
  • Toss some grilled chicken breast on top of a bowl of bagged salad with some extra raw vegetables like carrots, mushrooms or tomatoes. Top with your favorite low-fat dressing, and you have dinner.
  • When you bring home the package of chicken, beef or pork from the store, cut it into 1-inch cubes and freeze in heavy plastic baggies. That morning remove the baggie of cubed meat from the freezer, pour a marinade into the bag, reseal, then place in the refrigerator. When time to eat, sauté the meat in a large non-stick skillet with a tablespoon of oil. After the meat has started to brown, add a bag of mixed vegetables and stir until all is done. Top with a low-sodium sauce for added flavor. Meanwhile, prepare some ready-to-microwave brown rice, and dinner can be ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.
  • Slow cooker meals are an excellent way of coming home to a complete and hearty meal ready to eat when you are. Now on the market are air fryers and portable convection ovens that make dinner prep a breeze.
  • Try make-your-own sub night. Set out two plates — one with meats and cheeses and one with sliced vegetables (tomato, lettuce, pickles, peppers). Add a basket of whole grain buns and accompany with various condiments. Everybody can make their own and cleanup is a breeze, especially if you use paper plates.
  • Get the whole family involved in meal planning for the week. Be sure to offer a balance of foods from the all food groups: protein (meat, eggs, cheese, fish or beans), vegetables and/or fruit, whole grain starches and a dairy. Giving everybody choices of the foods already in the house will save you time and money.

Colleen S. Bucher, RDN, LDN, is coordinator and dietitian at Vidant Wellness Center of Washington.