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5 Fast and Healthy Meal Ideas for Busy Families

Schools are back in session!

And back-to-school means BUSY. Getting up early, after-school sports, clubs, activities…even just the daily hustle and bustle…it all takes up time and may require a chauffeur for kids under the age of 16. Getting a meal on the table can appear to be a difficult, oftentimes impossible task amid the chaos. 

If you’re like me, you want your kids to eat as healthy as possible, so the drive-through five nights a week just isn’t a good idea. I need to prepare food that is fast, nutritious, and simple. Equally for on-the-go breakfasts or speedy nutritious dinners after getting home from soccer practice at 7pm. 

Here are 5 quick and easy breakfast and dinner ideas for these busy times:

*Sidenote: I don’t really like to follow recipes, so these ideas are guidelines.

  1. Baked Chicken Thighs – Who knew chicken thighs were so much tastier and easier to cook than chicken breasts? Chicken breasts tend to dry out, but chicken thighs retain moisture and only require minimal seasoning to taste great. Preheat oven to 400, pat chicken dry with paper towels, and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake chicken in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs. 
  2. Taco Tuesday – seriously. What is easier than tacos? You can buy pre-made seasoning and shells: I like Simply Organic Southwest taco seasoning and Bearitos Blue Corn Taco Shells. Simply brown ground beef, turkey, fish, chicken, or tofu in a pan and follow the directions on the seasoning packet. Toast the shells and load the tacos up with toppings. My kids love mild salsa, kale, and lots of cheese. It’s a fast and healthy meal all-in-one.
  3. Homemade Granola – Boxed granola (even the healthier versions) can still contain lots of unnecessary added sugar. Homemade granola is healthier, easy to make, and is a great on-the-go breakfast for busy mornings. For a big batch, measure out four cups of rolled oats, mix with some cinnamon and about two cups of nuts and/or seeds (I like chopped almonds and raw pepitas). Coat with a 1/2 cup of either maple syrup or honey, 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, and a tbsp. of vanilla. I also add a 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Spread in an even layer onto a prepared baking sheet (I use parchment paper) and bake in preheated 350 oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then stir in any additional desired toppings, such as dried fruit. My kids love chocolate chips as an add-in. Obviously.
  4. Roasted Vegetables – I’ve found that most people will eat just about any vegetable as long as it is roasted and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I roast veggies to use as a side dish for baked chicken thighs (above) or as a meatless main meal by mixing it with rice or quinoa. My favorites to roast are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and kale. Just cut up the veggies, lightly coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes or so. I like to broil them at the end sometimes for extra crispiness.
  5. Stir-Fry- This one is super fast and can be further simplified by using frozen veggies. Add your protein of choice (my kids like tofu in stir fry) to a couple tbsps. of oil in a skillet. Brown it. In a separate saucepan, heat teriyaki or soy sauce (I like Bragg Liquid Aminos). Mix in a tsp of grated ginger if you have it. Add chopped veggies such as broccoli, bell peppers, and carrots to the protein, pour sauce over mix and cook covered, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, until veggies are tender to your liking. Serve over rice, noodles, or alone. Simple, healthy, and delicious. 

 

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