Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Meal Ideas (Affordability of Eating Healthy Part Five)

In my last post in this series, I listed the food items I keep on hand in my pantry. I planned on sharing some meal ideas from those ingredients in my next post based on this question I had previously received:

Any ideas for quick meals for busy nights or for times when some of my older kids are home alone and need a meal to make for themselves? At such times, we usually resort to boxed Mac and cheese or frozen DiGiorno pizzas from SAMS. These are huge hits! I need some healthy alternatives that are quick and easy and doable for the kids.

And then I received this question via email...

I'm wondering if you could post your top 10 favorite dinner meals that you make with the "staples" that you have on hand. Or maybe reference back to them if you put that in previous blogs? That would be super helpful!

So that's just what I'll do :-)

Now, these are meals that are our "quickies"... Let me explain. I love to make really good meals from really good ingredients. A lot of times, doing so requires a huge time chunk. Some of our favorites off the top of my head are:

But all of these things take time!!! Especially when I am making the usual side salad and plenty of other vegetables too. However, realistically speaking, I do not always have an hour in the evening for supper preparation. Often, I have some meals in the freezer to use. But, other times I need a "quickie." These quickie meals may not have the best of the best ingredients. They may have unsoaked grain, canned beans, etc, but they are still whole foods. And they are sure healthier than fast food or other quick alternatives.

So here they are:

  1. Bean Burrito Casserole (Mix salsa, frozen corn and two kinds of canned beans together. Layer with whole grain tortillas and cheese in a round casserole. Bake until bubbly. Really good with homemade refried beans as one of the beans, which are easy to make ahead and freeze.)
  2. Beef or Chicken Burrito Skillet (really simple with meat already prepped and frozen)
  3. Salmon Broccoli Pasta
  4. Meaty Spaghetti (Make a huge pot of sauce and freeze several batches. Include zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, peppers, any vegetable your family likes in the sauce and you don't have to have a side dish if there is not time.)
  5. Cheese Pizzas (You can buy a whole grain premade crust at Whole Foods and Earth Fare, then top with spaghetti sauce and cheese. Or, use pitas for crust.)
  6. Chicken Pasta Soup (Use frozen or store bought chicken stock. Add diced chicken from the freezer, a bag of frozen vegetables and a box of whole grain pasta. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.)
  7. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or Quesidillas with Tomato Soup (I use organic tomato juice, a bit of onion, a bit of garlic and herbs in a blender... then heat until nice and warm.)
  8. Then, there's always popcorn and smoothie! Yes, we do make that a dinner.


Andrea Manor said...

Awesome practical post, thank you!

Debbie said...

Quesadillas are definitely my go-to quick and cheap dinner. I love how I can use up little bits of leftovers in them.

Cascia said...

They all sound delicious! I am always looking for quick, low-cost healthy meals to prepare for my family. Have a wonderful Monday!