Today’s families have busy schedules between the kid’s hybrid learning systems, work schedules, extracurricular activities, and taking time for family fun and bonding. Often, one of the most challenging aspects of having a busy life is being able to create healthy meals throughout the week. All of us at Creme de la Creme also have busy lives and here are some of our recommendations for meal planning and some tasty recipes that all of the family will love.
Meal Planning Tips
Here are some tips you can follow when planning a meal:
Create a Weekly Menu
Schedule a day when the whole family can sit down for 20 to 30 minutes to make a weekly menu. Having the family involved lets everyone have input and they can make suggestions for foods they look forward to eating. Teaching kids basic cooking skills can help to inspire them to eat healthy meals throughout their lives. Your menu can look something like this: pasta and vegetables for Monday, veggie or turkey burgers and salad for Tuesday, chicken fajitas for Wednesday, and shrimp-fried rice for Friday.
Shop for the Ingredients
Make a list of what you’ll need and head to your favorite grocery store to stock up on the supplies and ingredients you’ll need to make the meals. Having a list and a meal plan will help prevent impulse buying of non-healthy foods.
Prep the Food
Many meals are easily frozen like lasagne, seafood and chicken, and pre-made burgers. Prep the food on your day off and mark the container for what day of the week you’ll be eating it. You can wash and dry salad fixings and add them to a container to use in the early part of the week. Simply leave out wet ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, and salad dressing. Add these when you serve the salad.
Now that you’ve prepared your shopping list and have a menu for the week, check out these sample ideas that are easy to prepare, nutritious, and everyone in the family will enjoy.
Plant-Based Burgers with Side Salad
“veggie burger” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by filipthedesigner
As you walk through the cold section of your grocery store, look for pre-made plant-based burgers such as Boca Burger, Beyond Burger, or Whole Food’s 365 Everyday Value plant-based burgers. Simply serve the burger patties with whole-grain buns, your favorite condiments, and a small side salad with an olive oil-based dressing.
This is a simple dish to prepare when you buy pre-seasoned shredded chicken and a bag of sliced vegetables that include onions, bell peppers, and zucchini. As you saute the vegetables and chicken breast in a bit of oil, add some taco or fajita seasoning to the mix. Serve with warm corn tortillas, pre-made guacamole, and a side of canned meat-free refried beans.
Nearly everyone enjoys shrimp-fried rice and with the right pre-made ingredients, it’s easy to whip this dish up in no time. Buy a packet of frozen, cleaned shrimp, a bag of cut stir-fry vegetables, a bottle of teriyaki sauce, and a bag of pre-cooked brown rice you can either heat in the microwave or toss in boiling water.
Saute the vegetables until just tender, add the thawed shrimp, stir in some of the teriyaki sauce, and one egg to the mix for an easy, flavorful, and nutritious dinner. Add a bright zest to this dish by topping it with chopped green onions.
Vegetable and Cheese Frittata
Make this tasty dish for a midweek meal. You can use a variety of vegetables including asparagus, spinach, broccoli, squash, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and fresh or frozen peas. Use cheeses such as Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, Havarti, smoked gouda, or feta.
Slice your choice of raw vegetables into small pieces and set them aside. Whisk six to eight eggs together in a separate bowl. Cook the vegetables in a large saute pan for a few minutes, then pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables, add a handful of mixed cheese, some salt and pepper, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for about 12 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with cooked frozen hash brown potatoes or a small side salad.
Make pasta night healthy by adding a variety of colorful vegetables to the pasta. Buy a bag of frozen vegetables that include peas, corn, and squash, and a jar of your favorite primavera sauce. Slice onions and mince some garlic and saute them until transparent, then add the jar of primavera sauce to the pan. Lightly steam the frozen vegetables and when slightly cooked, add them to the onion/garlic sauce mix.
In the meantime, boil a pot of pasta such as bowtie, rigatoni, or penne, and drain when cooked. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and vegetables and serve with grated parmesan cheese, garlic bread, and a small side salad.
On cool evenings, nothing beats a pot of savory chili. Saute onion, garlic, and bell pepper until tender and fragrant. Add ground turkey and cook until browned and fragrant. Add pre-made chili seasoning to the sauteed vegetables and turkey and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add a can of organic diced tomatoes, a can of organic chili or kidney beans, a handful of frozen corn, and simmer for 30 minutes. Scoop into bowls and top with finely diced white onions, chopped fresh cilantro, and grated cheddar cheese. Pick up some cornbread from the grocery store or bakery, warm it in the microwave, and serve slices of the cornbread with soft butter and a drizzle of local wildflower honey.Our team at Creme de la Creme understands how important it is for your family to eat healthy, balanced meals and also understands the challenges busy families face when it comes to making great meals. We hope this guide will inspire you to pre-plan meals, prep as much as possible, and get the kids involved so they can have fun in the kitchen. For more information on healthy meal ideas for busy families, feel free to contact our friendly staff at Creme de la Creme.