Back to school is a busy time and healthy eating often suffers. Cooking is more difficult because of crazy after school schedules hauling kids from one activity to the next. Luckily, healthy eating tips can help solve your dinner dilemmas! Many thanks to Blake’s All Natural for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine.
Avoid the Drive Through: 5 Simple Tips for Making Quick & Healthy Meals
With some planning and well stocked pantries and freezers, preparing healthy meals even on busy school nights doesn’t have to be hard! Here are five tips to help you keep it together and still cook even when you’re too busy.
1. Make a meal plan
If you don’t make a meal plan, that’s the first step to take. Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard or complicated and it doesn’t have to be followed precisely either. I’ve tried one week meal plans, two week meal plans, and even monthly plans. The best meal plan is the one that works for you! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy at all. Just jot down a quick list of dinner meals to help guide you through the week. Now for the hard part: don’t lose the list. 😀
I also recommend making a list of all the meals your family loves. Write, or type one up, then put it on the fridge. Next time you have a mental breakdown at dinner time, refer to your list and be inspired.
2. Cook once and freeze extra
Freezer cooking has worked really well for me in the past. It doesn’t take much longer to make two lasagnas than it does to make one. Same with spaghetti sauce. Instead of making a little pot enough for one meal, make a hug pot and freeze the rest! With about twenty extra minutes of effort once a week, I can put two or three meals in my freezer just by doubling or quadrupling whatever recipe I happen to be making for dinner that night. So pick a family favorite, a recipe you know your family will want to eat again, and make it for dinner on a night that is NOT busy. Instead of just making enough for one meal, though, make enough for several and freeze the extras!
Similar to making extra dinners to freezer, it’s also really easy to make big pots of side dishes to eat all week. Make a big salad and save the leftovers for the next day. (Just wait to add the dressing until you’re ready to eat it). Make extra cooked veggies and use them in other main dish recipes or make a big pot of soup with the leftovers.
3. Stock your pantry & freezer
A well stocked pantry and freezer can make all the difference between unhealthy take out and a healthy meal at home. I always try to have ingredients (noodles, tomato sauce, ground beef, beans, rice, frozen veggies, eggs) on hand for quick meals, as well as complete meals in the freezer that are ready to go in the oven.
4. Prep earlier in the day
Don’t wait until dinner time to start your dinner prep. Most likely, there’s something you can do ahead of time: prepare a salad or make a salad dressing. Chop veggies and get them ready for cooking. Make rice or noodles and then reheat. I learned this trick from my friend Robin who’s really good at cooking during the day so she doesn’t have much to do in the evenings. It’s genius really, and if you can make it work for you, prepping earlier in the day will make busy evenings so much easier.
5. Keep healthy options in the freezer for when you really just have no time
Sometimes, despite all the planning and prepping, cooking just isn’t possible. For times like this, it’s good to have frozen meals in the freezer. And I’m not talking about unhealthy TV dinners either.
Minimally processed and produced in small batch cooking, Blake’s from-scratch meals use antibiotic-free, hormone-free meats and organic vegetables. Their Family Size Sheperd’s Pie is gluten-free, made with beef raised without antibiotics and organic corn. It’s oh so good! Really, we can’t even tell that it was a frozen meal. Our family also loves the Family Size Chicken Pot Pie made with white meat chicken, garden veggies, and a flaky crust. The Family Meals will easily feed a family of four when served with a bagged salad and quick veggie side dish, like simple frozen veggies and sliced tomatoes.
What are your best tips for getting healthy meals on the table, especially during busy times?