I love to cook healthy “real food” meals for my family. I really do. I do my best to think ahead and even cook in bulk for my freezer once a month. But, like many of you, I have several small kids at home and a part-time job. There are just some nights I either forget to thaw a frozen meal in time or the freezer is bare.
That’s when I go to my handy dandy list of busy night recipes. A meal makes this list if:
- It contains ingredients I have on hand.
- It’s easy and fast to make. (Gets food in the pie holes of the tired and hungry little people stat!)
- Everyone likes it. (No whining during dinner. Perfect after a long day!)
- It’s cheap.
- It’s made with real food, healthy ingredients. (No processed junk!)
Without further adieu, I give you our simple go-to dinners on busy nights. Although some are meatless, they are hardy and fit the bill for those nights you have precious little time.
- Notes: Pasta is one of the fastest and cheapest meals around. Be sure to grab whole grain pasta for the highest nutritional value.
- Ingredients: Whole wheat spaghetti and marinara sauce. We love Newman’s Own Marinara sauce. It has no MSG, additives, or preservatives.
- How to Serve: We pair this with a side salad and cut up fruit. Try freshly grated Parmesan cheese to add a nutty, salty topper to the spaghetti.
2) Tuna Melts on Whole Wheat Bread
- Notes: Tuna has to be one of my favorite convenience health foods. It’s full of omega 3s and protein, is affordable, and stores in the pantry.
- Ingredients: Whole wheat bread, butter, canned tuna, and shredded cheddar cheese.
- Instructions: To make the sandwich, I butter the outside of two pieces of whole wheat bread. Then, I put a thin layer of shredded cheddar cheese on the inside of one piece. Spread about about a 1/4 cup of tuna over it and top with more shredded cheddar. You can use whatever cheese you like, though. Grilled over medium heat for until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted.
- Serving Suggestion: We serve this with cut up veggies, chips and hummus. It’s also great with organic tomato soup.
3) Bean, Rice, and Cheese Wraps
- Notes: Beans and rice are not only cheap, but they make for such a filling, healthy meal! I make these in bulk and freeze them.
- Ingredients: Whole wheat wraps/tortillas, black beans, red beans, cooked instant brown rice, frozen or canned & drained corn, shredded cheese, salsa.
- Instructions: To a tortilla, add beans, rice, corn, cheese, and salsa to your liking. Roll up, wrap in foil, and bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Or you can microwave these if you need an even quicker fix.
- Serving Suggestion: We eat this with a side salad fruit salad, or guacamole and chips.
4) Breakfast for Dinner: Oven Omelet
- Notes: My kids cheer when I tell them we’re having Breakfast for Dinner. I love this meal because you can use whatever you have on hand in your omelet or in your smoothie (serving suggestion).
- Instructions: Here’s my Oven Omelet recipe.
- Serving Suggestions: We pair this with a fresh smoothie and whole wheat toast.
Guest Bio: Rachel is a stay-at-home mom who works part-time as a Family Events Coordinator at her church and co-authors the blog, Thriving Home. You can find all of her easy, healthy, kid-friendly recipes at www.thrivinghomeblog.com. She enjoys playing with her three young kids (ages 1,3, and 5), creating healthy recipes, and being outside.