What's For Dinner?

In our fast paced lives, preparing healthy meals at home becomes a challenge. Here are ideas to get you thinking convenience at home instead of on the road, meals in 15 - 30 minutes.

We live in a too busy world. We’re constantly rushing from home to work to kid activities to home and running errands in between. It’s no wonder that the call of the drive thru is so strong! Although the occasional indulgence is not detrimental to our health, frequently eating out has been linked to numerous health issues because of the higher calories and higher fat content of restaurant meals. Not to mention that people typically order as though it’s a special occasion instead of a meal!

Grab a pen and paper or your iPad or notebook so that when you read the following ideas, you can take note of your own ideas. In 10 minutes, you will have enough ideas to fill two weeks worth of menus, more if you have left overs for another night in the week or freeze for a later week.

Quick and easy is the goal of these meals. And, of course they need to be tasty! Don’t stop with my ideas, jot yours down as well.

A Mexican Fiesta: Chicken Burritos

  • (whole corn tortillas, pre cooked, diced chicken breast, diced tomatoes and onions, and shredded reduced-fat cheese, optional: light sour cream and green onions)
    • Fill whole corn tortillas with 2 oz chicken.
    • 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat cheese. 
    • ½ cup diced tomatoes and onions in each.  
    • Microwave for 1-2 minutes.  
    • Top with 1 tablespoons light sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped green onions.

Asian Stir-fry, serves 2-4

  • (2 cup size boil in a bag brown rice, 1 lb. bag frozen stir-fry vegetables, 12 oz. precooked shrimp, 1 clove garlic, teriyaki sauce)
    • Bring water to a boil and submerge a bag of quick cooking brown rice.
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a nonstick pan.  
    • Stir fry frozen vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are still slightly crispy.  
    • Add precooked shrimp and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes until heated through.  
    • Add minced garlic and ¼ cup teriyaki sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve on top of rice.                                                                   

Classic Spaghetti, serves 4

  • (8 oz. whole grain pasta, frozen diced green peppers and onions, jar of marinara sauce, 12-16 oz. lean ground beef)
    • Bring water to a boil and add whole grain pasta to the pot. 
    • In a separate pan, brown lean ground beef and diced green peppers and onions. 
    •  Add a jar of marinara sauce and cook until heated through. 
    •  Drain pasta and top with meat sauce.  Serve with bagged salad and lite dressing.

Salmon Salad, serves 2

  • (2 3-oz. salmon fillets, frozen or fresh, bag of mixed greens, 1 tomato, 1 red onion, light dressing)
    • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan.  
    • Cook 3 oz. fresh or frozen salmon fillets with lemon pepper seasoning. 
    •  Toss a bag of prepared salad with 1 sliced tomato.
    • ½ sliced red onion.
    •  ¼ cup olive oil vinaigrette.  
    • Place salad on 2 dinner plates and top each with a salmon fillet.

More ideas:

  • Whole grain pasta
  • Tomato sauce & Green bean
  • Lean ground beef
  • Sliced bread & low fat margarine                                                                                                         
  • Brown rice (cooked in broth)
  • Fresh steamed broccoli
  • Fish-broiled/grilled
  • Fresh steamed carrots & yellow squash & cooked corn                                      
  • Cous cous &Whole grain roll
  • Salad & grilled zucchini squash
  • Seafood
  • Low fat dressing &. low fat margarine                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Grilled pork loin chop
  • Brown rice
  • Hot whole grain roll
  • Fresh steamed asparagus
  • Low fat margarine                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Grilled, marinated sirloin cubes
  • Grilled Fresh veggies (tomato, peppers, onions, mushrooms …)
  • Black beans or other lentil
  • Watermelon                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  • Baked Chicken breast –breaded with herbs and fine bread crumbs
  • Fresh steamed summer squash with fresh herbs
  • Seasoned, steamed greens
  • Inch square corn bread                                                                                                                                                                                                
  • Fresh baked fish fillet
  • Stuffed with Fresh spinach leaves and 3 Tbsp. low fat feta cheese
  • Brown rice
  • Fresh steamed veggies                                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Grilled chicken breast strips or sirloin strips (marinated in cilantro, salt, pepper  and lime juice)
  • Grilled peppers and onions
  • 6 inch tortilla
  • Shredded low fat cheese
  • Chunky, Fresh Salsa                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Fresh steamed broccoli (and other veggie’s) with garlic
  • Pasta
  • Toss with Fresh diced tomatoes, fresh corn, and a small amount of chicken broth
  • Sprinkle with Fresh grated parmesan(add lentils for a powerful protein punch)

Sandwiches and breakfast meals are also easy and fast for dinner.

Check www.cookinglight.com or www.vegetariantimes.com for additional ideas, and read the comments to better guide you to the tasty recipe.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Regan Case July 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Love these ideas! Lots of people think they don't have time to cook, but really it's just a matter of having a plan (menu/recipe) and then they realize it really doesn't take that long. Thanks for sharing!
Andy D July 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I agree with Regan. Cooking requires a very small amount of planning and a small amount of time, but making your own meals is far cheaper and healthier than eating out. I used to be afraid to go into the kitchen, but a year or two ago, my wife and I started eating healthier foods and that change eventually pushed me to start cooking simple stuff for both of us. To the point of your article, a few times a week, I use our rice cooker (motto: "It's not just for rice!") to make a batch of quinoa (a big bag is incredibly cheap at Costco, but if that's still not cheap enough, go with brown rice) and then another batch of lentils (also incredibly cheap). Both of those batches will keep in the fridge for days (if we don't finish them before then) and they serve as a great "base" for most of our healthy meals.
Julie Schwartz July 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Thanks for the comments. Rice cookers and crock pots are great for even more convenient preparation, thanks for sharing Andy. And thank you for pointing out that healthy can be inexpensive, even when not comparing to eating out. Julie
Andy D July 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM
For what it's worth, the rice cooker we have ($30 from Costco) is both a rice cooker AND a slow-cooker. (I use the latter for lentils and other "fragile" beans/legumes.) And when it finishes, it clicks over to "keep-warm" mode. It even has a delayed start so we can set it to have stuff ready whenever we want. I SWEAR that I'm not a rice-cooker or Costco shill, just like both of them! :)


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