Healthy Dinners During the School Year

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

There is a lot of talk about lunches around this time of year. However, I think of dinner, and extra curricular activities like soccer, cub scouts and homework. How do you fit a quick healthy meal into the mix?

The most helpful piece of advice I heard long ago was to post a list of quick healthy meals somewhere handy, and always keep those ingredients in your pantry and freezer. Then, on busy days, plan one of your quick go-to meals. It doesn't always have to be spaghetti (not that there is anything wrong with that)!

Quick, healthy, and convenient do not always go hand-in-hand, so I am going to share a partial list with you of what is on my quick list as well as the products you will need to have the meals pantry ready.

Starting Fresh
These are quick meals that require some fresh ingredients.

  • Baked potato with broccoli and canned chili

    • Baked potatoes and broccoli come in microwaveable wrappers

    • Canned turkey chili with beans is low in fat and high in fiber. Look for the lowest sodium version available.

  • Salmon salad

    • Bagged salad + any extra salad veggies you have

    • Canned salmon or tuna, or pre-seasoned salmon from the freezer section that cooks up quickly.

    • Light honey mustard dressing

    • Whole grain crackers

  • Quick minestrone

    • 1 can white beans drained and rinsed

    • 1 can lower sodium diced tomatoes

    • 3 cups lower sodium chicken broth + 1 cup water

    • Pre packaged fresh green beans

    • 2 cups cooked whole grain pasta or brown rice

      • Bring beans, tomatoes, broth, and water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until green beans are tender. Serve over pasta or rice. For added flavor toss in some dry basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning of choice.

From the freezer
Many meals can come from one bag of pre-cooked chicken.

How many times do recipes call for cooked chicken? The problem is the same as always for convenience products: too much salt or sodium. The sodium on pre-cooked frozen chicken can range from over 600mg per serving to about 230mg per serving. Two brands found locally that hit around the 230mg mark were the Kroger brand cooked diced chicken, and the Tyson grilled whole chicken breast. To find other lower sodium chicken products, check the labels. Here are some good ideas on how to use this product for quick healthy meals.

  • Southwestern Chicken: Mix a drained rinsed can of black beans with 1 cup or more of your favorite salsa (lowest sodium possible). Serve bean mixture and 2-3 ounces of chicken:

    • Over a bed of brown rice (also found in the freezer section)

    • Stuffed into a tortilla
    • On top of a baked potato

    • On top of a bed of salad greens

  • Traditional meal:

    • Chicken prepared per package instructions

    • Mashed sweet potatoes (found in the freezer section)

    • Brown rice (freezer section also or ready rice from rice aisle)

    • Green beans (freezer or canned lower sodium)

Enjoy these meals or create some of your own quick meal ideas!

Until next time, shop well, eat well and live well!

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