I wish I was a person that liked to cook… but I am not. Perhaps I am too busy or easily distracted but standing over a stove and stirring drives me crazy. Yet, my kids deserve more than frozen pizza. If you are like me, here are some healthy and quick dinner recipes for you.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and my kids are tweens/teens. These may not be well-loved for the younger crowd.
This beauty was delivered in the form of a late-night Instagram scroll-fest. The College Nutritionist featured this recipe on her content page, and since the recipes took no time to prep, I gave it a try.
Take a zucchini, cut it in half, and then slice each down the middle so you have quarters. Put a piece of lunch meat (ideally organic without all the fillers) and stick in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. The oven should be about 450-475 degrees in temperature. Take it out and put cheese on top. Switch the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted to your design.
That’s it. Both my kids loved these!
Many local Krogers have pre-made sushi, but if we are eating in, we throw some rice in the rice cooker, grab some seaweed wraps, and then whatever filling we want. From guac and imitation crab meat to avocado, carrot strips, and tuna, we can make a fast, painless dinner.
Of course, this may not look as pretty as an expertly created sushi delight, but for a fast dinner, it takes very little time. Lay out the wrap, slather rice on the roll, then put the filling on one side and roll, wetting the final strip of seaweed to seal the wrap. Sometimes I do not even bother to cut it into pieces and just give it to the kids as is.
Get creative and don’t expect perfection, and you will have a quick, easy dinner!
Veggie and Cheese Tray
Meijer and Kroger often have a veggie tray on sale, so if you are not wanting to buy and cut up veggies and do not want to spend a fortune on a veggie tray, just wait a few days and you will likely score one half off. Many of the times they even come with ranch, making it more enticing for the kids.
Grab a bag of cheese squares and a box of whole wheat crackers and wala – dinner done. There are no rules to say you MUST have a cooked, multi-dish, 30-minute prepped meal. This has protein in the cheese, dairy, veggies, and wheat.
With the time saved, throw a game on the table and play while you eat.
Fish and Salad
This can be done in a variety of ways, but to save time thawing and marinating fish, grab a few boxes of Gorton’s Salmon that you can take straight from the freezer to the stove. During that time, grab some salad and add any toppings you have on hand to make it “fancy.”
For our family, fancy is overstated because of general time constraints and because I am not a huge fan of cooking. The last time I made this, I added peas (yes, from a can), sunflower seeds, and then took string cheese and put strips of cheese on the top of the salad.
For the dressing, I just grab whatever vinegar I have handy and olive oil and blend. The kids probably would have loved this a lot more with something like ranch or even poppy seed dressing, but we normally are out so we make due.
We add a side of “veggie spaghetti” from the frozen steamer section. You could add whole wheat spaghetti and put the salmon on top or omit it completely. Because my one kid is pretty active, I usually add this for energy for practice the next day.
Who doesn’t love tacos? Yes, if you cook the meat and add the seasonings and perfectly chop lettuce, cut up avocados, and dice your own tomatoes, it is probably even yummier. My opportunity cost of doing all this is too great, so I take the cheater’s way.
We grab cans of refried beans and warm them up quickly. Then open up the store’s version of guacamole, organic salsa or the fresh salsa from the deli, either fake meat crumbles or a can of chicken or tuna, shredded cheese, and if we are feeling really generous, we may pre-cook some rice in the rice cooker. Most of the time we just omit the lettuce for ease.
For the kids, we buy hard tacos but if you are wanting to omit additional carbs, you can always use a piece of lettuce or make a “bowl” without the shell at all.
This can be dessert or a part of the dinner if you want to add some more “filling” aspects. Simply throw whatever you have into the blender and create the “drink” for the meal. This is also where you can throw in some things they may not normally like. For example, spinach is easily hidden in a smoothie, as are “seed” and “nuts” (assuming no one is allergic).
I am notorious for buying fruit and before I know it, it is almost ready to be thrown out but not “quite.” You know what I mean… strawberries and bananas that are super ripe and you can still eat them but they don’t look yummy. You can’t tell in a smoothie!
It is also great for those last couple of yogurt cup flavors no one really wants to eat but they aren’t expired. Throw them in there for the base. Or add some protein powder if you know that you haven’t eaten enough of that lately.
The kids also feel really special when they get smoothies for dinner.
Give Up Perfect
If Covid taught us anything, it is to stop trying to be everything. You don’t have to be a first-class chef to deliver a decent dinner. Sometimes eating raw veggies is actually better than cooking out all the nutrients.
If you love cooking, cool. You do you. But if you are like me and you cook because you have to most days – don’t beat yourself up. You can still deliver dinner without spending precious time behind a stove.
Bonus – with meals that don’t require lots of cooking, clean-up afterward is a breeze!