Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No Time? How to Get a Healthy Dinner on the Table in No Time!

We're all busy.  We have lives to live.  Sometimes life's schedule goes a little over and those best laid dinner intentions are quickly shoved onto the back burner.  We turn to take out, drive thrus, frozen fish sticks or worst yet, no real dinner at all. 
If this happens sometimes it's not a bad thing.  Variety is the spice of life.  I'm not crusading against Happy Meals here.  What I am saying is that this happens to a lot of us more often that it should.  With a little prep, a well stocked pantry/freezer and the willingness to do a little work you can get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.  I don't know about you, but where I live it's going to take me 30 minutes to run out to our closest restaurant (Mexican) and back.
Well, you say, enlighten us please.  Gladly.  Here's a few tips on how I get dinner on the table after a crazy day and a few ideas to get you started.
  • Keep a well stocked pantry/freezer.  Pasta, jarred sauce, frozen veggies, frozen ravioli, sandwich meats and cheeses can be great jumping off points for a meal.  If you don't have to run to the store, you're more likely to make dinner.
  • Don't beat yourself up for serving a boxed mac and cheese to your family.  Do serve a vegetable alongside it.  I love the Birds Eye Steamfresh veggies...I don't even have to dirty a dish!
  • Cook for your freezer.  Making meatballs, enchiladas, french toast or soup?  Make a double batch and freeze one. Then all you have to do is defrost, warm and serve!  You've already done the work, now reap the benefits.
  • Breakfast is your friend.  Breakfast is quick and cheap.  When all else fails I always have the ingredients on hand for pancakes or waffles.  I mix up a batch and serve them alongside a big fruit salad.
  • Do the prep ahead of time.  If you know it'll be a crazy day don't wait until 5PM to think about dinner.  You can chop veggies, marinade (or in some cases cook) meat and do other prep work hours or days ahead of time.  By washing and chopping vegetables and pounding out meat ahead of time I can put Chicken Piccata and a salad on the table in just at half and hour!
  • Don't set yourself up for failure.  If you even think the day is going to be wild don't plan on making lasagna for dinner.  Plan ahead if you can and if the day has gotten away from you take stock of what you've got and work with it.
I hope this has given you a little inspiration to use what you have and avoid the dinnertime crunch.

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