Make Time for Dinner
Back to school brings the return of homework, weeknight sports practices, and very little time for much else. Although preparing dinner may feel like a chore, there are various strategies for making dinner both healthy and easy during a busy school week. If preparing a healthy meal comes at the expense of spending quality time with family, household chores, or squeezing in time to exercise, then these easy weeknight meal tips may be for you.
Tip #1: Plan
Creating a plan for weeknight dinners will prevent the dread from setting in when hearing “what are we having for dinner tonight?” Taking a small amount of time during the weekend to plan out each dinner will make sure you are ready for the week. Planning out meals also helps pull together your grocery list effortlessly. Fun meal planning tips include:
- Checking out Pinterest for recipe inspiration
- Trying a few meal ideas from your favorite Instagram blogger
- Allowing each member of your family to pick their favorite meal for the week
- Digging out an old cookbook for recipe ideas
Tip #2: Meal Prep
Once the groceries have been purchased, it is time for meal prep. Meal preparation may be one of the most common healthy eating tips, but it’s because it works! The best part about meal preparation is that you don’t have to make the whole meal in advance. Taking a small amount of time on a Saturday or Sunday to wash and cut vegetables, portion out servings of fresh fruit, make a large pot of rice or pasta, or create a homemade dressing for salads can shave off time spent in the kitchen each night. Already having part of the meal prepared will make getting started less daunting and help get the meal on the table quicker to feed you and your family.
Tip #3: Tupperware Matters
Another great tip for preparing weeknight dinners is to store meal prepped items and leftovers in glass storage containers that can be safely reheated in a microwave or oven. Not having to shuffle food around between storage and reheating dishes will also help cut down on the number of dishes needing to be cleaned. By storing leftovers in glass Tupperware, you can also easily take your container to work and reheat for a quick lunch as well.
Back to School Dinner Ideas
Having a few easy weeknight dinner ideas in your back pocket will help when you don’t know what to make. Save time searching your recipe books by trying out the following recipes:
Meatless Monday: Tofu Stir-fry with Vegetables in Peanut Sauce
Although this recipe may only take 20 minutes to throw together, it does not skimp on flavor. A stir-fry is a great way to incorporate more plants into your meals and the tofu adds protein for a well-rounded dish. Prepare brown rice on the side or serve as is for a delicious meatless Monday dinner.
Meal Prepped Dinner: Classic Stuffed Peppers
Just because a recipe takes over an hour to prepare does not mean it doesn’t belong in your weeknight dinner rotation. Prepare these classic stuffed peppers on Sunday and store in an oven-safe dish to quickly heat up and serve. You will love the convenience of these individually portioned peppers full of flavor and good-for-you ingredients.
Takeout at Home: Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Enjoy a favorite Mexican-style dish at home with less than 10 ingredients. By layering the oven times, you can cook all ingredients to perfection using only one baking sheet. Serve with brown rice, tortilla shells, or toss on a bed of lettuce for a more low-carb version.
Family Favorite: Baked Chicken Parmesan
In case you were skeptical, chicken parmesan in under 30 minutes is possible. Not only is this family-favorite able to be prepared quickly, but the baked version is also a much healthier alternative to pan frying. Serve with whole-wheat pasta and a side salad for a restaurant-quality meal.
Seafood Friday: Sheet Pan Salmon and Vegetables
The worst part about preparing dinner at home is the aftermath of doing the dishes. With this recipe, you only need one sheet pan, which helps to cut down on dish duty. Not only is this recipe cleanup friendly, but it can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
Written by Be Well Solutions Dietetic Intern: Maureen Purcell