Oct 8, 2009

How To Get a Healthy Dinner on the Table in a Flash

I don't know about you, but right around 5 o'clock the kids fall to pieces.  They could have been angels all day long then *WHAM* grumpy kids that fight scream and do all manner of things to keep you from getting dinner ready on time.  It happens so frequently at my house that we have deemed the experience the "Five o'clock Fussies." Well, this mom has a few tricks up her sleeves!

I usually plan a dinner menu for the week based on what is in season and what's on sale.  I also make sure a have the ingredients for a couple of my favorite no-fuss 30 min meals.  We try to eat fresh whole foods (shop the perimeter of the grocery store) so we uses lots of veggies.  One trick to help make dinner a breeze is to prepare the veggies before hand.  You can chop a couple of recipes worth on the weekend when you have a second pair of hands around, or I'll sometimes do my prep while the kids are down for their afternoon nap.  Once you have all the chopping done, stick it in a covered bowl in the fridge until you need them (keep potatoes in a water bath, but only do this when you'll use them the same day)! I often do this with salad, washing and tearing it to size and spinning it in the salad spinner.  I take the basket out, dry the inside of the bowl and dump the salad mix in and cover it.  It keeps for close to a week for me!

My second trick is to make extra.  I will cook a Sunday dinner such as roasted chicken, but I'll roast two birds instead of one.  I'll serve the breast meat from one of the birds and carve the remaining meat for two other meals.  The second day I'll make a salad and top it with some chicken breast.  The third day, I'll use the carcasses to make chicken stock, and then make a chicken soup with the dark meat that is left. If leftovers aren't your thing, you could always assemble a casserole ahead of time, just stick it in the freezer or fridge depending on when you'll use it (ziti bakes are great for freezing!)

When all else fails, I go to my quick and easy stock meals.  We have several go-to recipes: Fiesta Chicken from The American Test Kitchen Family Cookbook; Bird on a Biscuit from A Man, A Can, A Plan by David Joachim; or I'll whip together a quick pizza with refrigerated pizza dough.  These meals are quick (30 minutes or less) and require very little prep or active cooking, get for the days when nothing seems to go right!

I'm so glad I finally posted about this, I had wanted to for a while.  I finally got around to it because of a great contest going on for a Samsung Refrigerator (great seeing how mine is dying!).  To check out the contest go here.  Wish me luck!


Mindy said...

I needed to read this post as a motivator. My meal planning was right on track for awhile, but I've lost my motivation a bit. I'm tired of the same old meals and we are doing great with leftovers, but I know I can do better. I'm going to take some of these tips and try them out! We definitely need more veggies in our meals and maybe the weekend prep will help!

RachMD said...

I love this idea. I need to start planning my family meals out based on the seasons. I get veggies from a farm share once a week, so I definitely need seasonal meals. I can get away with not planning meals for now since I only have once child and he's still breastfed (only 10 months old). I'd love some more ideas for fresh meals!


Jen said...

Thank you for sharing! Great idea!

Jenn said...

I will sometimes assemble a casserole a day or two ahead of time and stick it in the refrigerator, then when it's time it only needs to be baked. A few of our quick staples are:
-Turkey hot dogs (microwave) on whole wheat buns with salad and/or canned beans
-Mini-pizzas on whole wheat tortillas (I buy turkey pepperoni and the Boboli pizza sauce individual packets, these assemble in 3 minutes, bake for 10 to melt cheese)
-Border patrol casserole from A Man, A Can, A Plan (we use canned chicken, ground beef, or even soy-based "beef" crumbles instead of the ham, and we use Ranch Style Beans instead of whatever beans they recommend, because Yankees wrote that cookbook, but still, a good recipe)

Simplistic Mom said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I'm thinking of adding a seasonal recipe feature weekly, so be on the look out!

Rachel McFadden said...

That is a great idea!