You’re home from work late, the kids have practice in an hour and everyone’s hungry. Does that sound like a typical weeknight scenario at your house? It’s no surprise that a busy lifestyle can lead to a lot of fast-food dinners. You may be caught in the assumption that healthy cooking takes a long time – something that’s in short supply most nights, but with a little bit of planning there are plenty of quick and healthy meals that will get your family to the table any night of the week.
Instead of heading to the drive-through on taco Tuesday night, plug in your slow cooker Tuesday morning to make some delicious carnitas tacos. Let boneless pork shoulder simmer along with garlic, white onions, chiles and other seasonings. When it’s time for dinner shred the pork with a fork, warm up some corn tortillas and serve with chopped cilantro, mango and avocado.
Pasta with Shrimp
Pasta gets a bad rap for being a splurge food, but whole grain pastas prepared with light, fresh sauces and lean proteins are healthy and quick. Try tossing grilled shrimp and hot whole-grain pasta with a sauce made from low-fat milk, Dijon mustard, Parmigiano cheese, pine nuts and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Or use chunks of grilled chicken, fresh grape tomatoes and skim-milk mozzarella for a healthier version of chicken parmesan you can prepare in about 30 minutes.
Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Basil
Healthy recipes using brown rice are worth collecting for weeknight meals. Brown rice has a sweet nutty taste, is a good source of phytonutrients and helps prevent atherosclerosis. And its high-fiber content makes it a satisfying main ingredient for a vegetarian entrée. It takes only about 30 minutes to cook a cup of brown rice which leaves you free to prepare all the other ingredients. Make a simple fresh “spaghetti sauce” with chopped tomatoes, olive oil and seasonings. Warm the mixture in a sauté pan and add a large bunch of chopped fresh basil. Stir in cooked brown rice and dinner is served.
Restaurant stir fry dishes can be laden with fat but making stir fry at home means you can control the ingredients. Buy pre-chopped and canned Asian veggies to make this dish easier to prepare. Bottled sauces from the Asian Food aisle in your grocery store will add authentic flavors to your stir fry without requiring you to make everything from scratch. Serve with brown instead of white rice for an extra boost of nutrition.
The convenience of eating nutritious food around your own table is far more enjoyable than grabbing some burgers or eating whatever you might find in the fridge. Once you get a few healthy weeknight meals in your repertoire you’ll be inspired to learn more. And who knows, your family may be so appreciative you might not even have to wash any dishes.
Joseph is a health enthusiast with a passion for writing. In his spare time, he blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands he loves.