Quick and healthy meal ideas for busy parents
There’s a mistaken idea among parents that making healthy, tasty food is too hard. On top of that, it’s time-consuming. But, there are quick meals that are healthy, too. It’s true that, when compared with tearing open pre-packaged foods and throwing them in the microwave, cooking at home might take a bit longer. But by setting aside just a little time every week for planning and organizing, it’s possible to whip up quick, healthy, and tasty meals for the whole family.
So, what’s the best way to prepare quick meals for your family? First of all, it’s important to overcome the notion that it’s too difficult. We believe food is worth investing a little time in, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to prepare three elaborate, gourmet meals every day. It’s time to say goodbye to that “I wish I could, but I can’t” attitude towards healthy eating.
One useful tool that will always make things easier is “batch cooking.” This approach essentially means setting aside one afternoon per week (on Sunday, for example), for meal prep. You can then stick what you prepare into lunchboxes throughout the week in various combinations. There are lots of advantages to this method: you save time, and you can make a nutritious, homemade meal in just a few minutes. And don’t forget this little bonus – you won’t be spending money on unhealthy products.
One example of a basic meal component is sautéed or steamed veggies, (try adding them to an omelet or a soup). Another is beans, which you can mix with vegetables or blend into a delicious breakfast hummus. Hard-boiled eggs make any salad or sandwich tastier and whole grains, such as rice, are one of the most versatile ingredients in all kinds of kid-friendly meals. Anything that is easy to reheat, such as tomato sauce and roast potatoes, is a good option. Put these basic items in the fridge on the weekend, and you’ll be able to spend your time doing other things during the week. Then when the fam is hungry, voilà, quick meals for dinner.
It takes time and planning to replace junk food with healthier alternatives. One strategy you can use before you start batch cooking is to plan your weekly menu in advance. Before grocery shopping, sit down and plan what you’ll cook that week. The list should typically include vegetables, greens, fruits, dried beans, brown rice, and a wide variety of seeds (sesame, sunflower… they provide vital nutrition and, more to the point, they’re tasty). Nuts and olives are good to have on hand for snack time, and a little-canned fish and a high-quality olive oil will round out your cart. A full pantry and fridge are a busy parent’s best friends, and planning what to buy in advance will help you keep junk food out of your home.
Combining these basics to make whole meals will be difficult at first. That said, it’s also the key to a healthy, balanced diet, one that includes veggies, grains, beans, and, once a day, an animal protein, such as eggs, fish or chicken. You’ll find that all it takes is a few minutes on the stove for a hot, tasty, and healthy meal.