Everybody’s schedule is different, but one thing we all have in common is nights when we get home and need to get something into our bellies NOW. Having a few go-to meals up your sleeve is key to getting a healthy meal on the table in less time than pizza delivery. These are meals you can make easily, almost with your eyes closed (but please, for safety, keep them open). A well-stocked kitchen is a must-have for easy meal making. The more you make these recipes, the easier and less time consuming they will be.
You don’t have to cook on these time-pressed nights. A PB&J sandwich with cut vegetable sticks, oatmeal or cold cereal with milk and added fruit, a green salad with canned beans or smoothies are also quick and satisfying. If you make sure to include a protein (animal or vegetable), a grain and some fruit and/or vegetables you’ve made yourself a balanced meal.
Breakfast for Dinner
Breakfast is by nature a quick and easy meal to make. Fantastic French Toast can be made in about 10 minutes, while Broccoli Cheddar Frittata and Breakfast Burrito take a little more time. If eggs aren’t your thing, try Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes (you can swap in canned or mashed sweet potato for pumpkin) or keep some Oatmeal Muffins in the freezer to thaw in the microwave.
Sheet Pan Meals
A sheet pan can be your best kitchen tool for easy meals with minimal cleanup. This method is as basic as you can get and the combinations are entirely up to you and what you have on hand. Heat the oven. Put everything on a pan. Bake. There *are* a few pointers to keep in mind for success:
- Choose vegetables that cook at the same rate (like potatoes and carrots, mushrooms and asparagus, etc.). If you are mixing up vegetable types, add the faster cooking ones to the pan later in the process.
- Cut vegetables to about the same size.
- Put proteins in the center (where the most heat is) and scatter vegetables around them.
- Don’t overcrowd! Make sure there’s enough space for air to circulate around each piece of food.
- Line the pan with foil or parchment for easy cleanup.
Green salads are wonderful on warm nights, you only need a few ingredients and they’re a good way to use canned beans (make sure you drain and rinse them first), leftover pasta or grains. Salad meals really are a good way to use small amounts of a lot of things, like single pieces of fruit. Cutting items into small pieces makes them easy to get onto a fork but also makes it look like there’s more of that item. Sanchico Tuna Salad includes mango and avocado while Tofu Salad provides a good source of vegetarian protein.
Pasta and sauce. Rice and beans. Simple and easy. Keeping these stocked in the pantry means you’ll have a meal ready soon after the water boils. If you have a little more time, Zingy Lemon Chicken Pasta and Spanish Rice are two of our favorites.
Written by Adriene Worthington, RDN, LDN