8 easy dietitian-approved meals for busy families
With these easy meal options you can be sure your family is eating something both healthy and tasty.
When life gets busy, convenience often trumps health. A well-intentioned, home-cooked meal can easily become a trip to the closest fast-food drive-through. While the occasional fast food stop is no big deal, you and your little ones might be missing out on important nutrients if it’s more than a couple of times a month. The good news is whipping up a healthy meal doesn’t have to involve hours over the stove. Here are eight healthy meals that can be prepared in about the same time as it takes to wait for a burger:
1. Peanut butter, banana, honey and cinnamon sandwich
This delicious sandwich covers all the major nutrient groups and is a great on-the-go breakfast or lunch option for both kids and adults. Make it on multi-grain bread for an extra dose of fibre and long-lasting energy. A sprinkle of cinnamon brings out the flavour of the other ingredients, and it can help keep blood sugar levels under control.
2. Veggie omelette with multi-grain toast
Eggs are known as a breakfast food but a carton of eggs can serve as a quick and cheap protein- alternative for your family’s dinner. Eggs go with almost anything so you can mix and match ingredients, depending what you’ve got on-hand. Add quick-cooking veggies like baby spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and a sprinkle of sharp cheese to a plain omelette (or scrambled eggs) for a nutrient-rich meal.
3. Pikelets with vanilla yogurt and warm blueberry sauce
Give pancakes a makeover by skipping the maple syrup, and loading them up with healthy toppings like vanilla-flavoured Greek yoghurt, and blueberries instead. Greek yoghurt is rich in calcium and protein, which are important for building strong bones and muscles. To make the blueberry sauce, nuke frozen blueberries for a minute or so in the microwave, and pour them over the top.
4. Homemade hamburgers with sweet potato chips
Hamburgers can be a healthy choice with a few simple upgrades to the typical recipe. To create the patties, combine extra-lean beef mince with an egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning, and pan-fry them in olive oil. Lean beef is an excellent source of iron, which helps deliver oxygen to the body. Top the patties with sautéed onions, tomato and lettuce, and serve on a whole-grain bun for an extra hit of nutrients. Instead of frozen chips, roast strips of sweet potato in olive oil – they’re packed with Vitamin A.
5. Wholegrain pasta with chicken sausage and veggie ragu
A bottle of Napolitano sauce, a packet of pasta, four chicken sausages and a bag of frozen mixed veggies is all you need for this quick and healthy dinner. Pan-fry the sausages until golden brown, and slice into pieces. Sauté the veggies in olive oil and add the cooked sausage and pasta sauce to the pan. Pour the sauce over wholegrain pasta for a delicious, balanced meal. Try different pasta shapes like bowties, spirals and orecchiette (little ears) to keep your kids amused.
6. Homemade flatbread pizzas
Everyone loves pizza, and making it at home is a much healthier alternative to the takeaway and frozen varieties. Use naan or a wholegrain wrap, and top them with Napoletana pasta sauce, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese and fresh basil for a quick, kid-friendly meal. Baby spinach, mushrooms, artichokes and fresh tomato also work well as toppings and are a great way to sneak-in another serving of veggies.
7. Mediterranean salad with grilled chicken
A hearty salad can be an easy go-to meal on a warm day. Toss together mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, canned chickpeas, feta and olives, and top with grilled chicken. Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for extra flavour. If your kids aren’t sold on salad, try getting them involved in the prep. Allow them to pick a few ingredients and arrange their own colour-filled plate.
8. Soy-ginger chicken stir-fry
Bring the flavours of Asia to your household by stir-frying strips of chicken breast and fresh (or frozen) veggies in fresh ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Garlic and ginger help fend off bacteria and viruses, and they keep inflammation at bay. Veggies like broccoli, capsicum, onion, and snow peas add colour and crunch, as well as a healthy dose of anti-oxidants, vitamins and fibre. Serve the stir-fry over brown rice for a filling, and nutritionally-complete meal.
Edwina Clark MS, RD (US), APD
Edwina Clark is a Registered Dietitian, with extensive experience counselling on health and wellness topics. Edwina has led corporate wellness programs for clients including Google, State Street Bank and Cancer Treatment Centre of America, in both the US and Europe. She is a seasoned public speaker, with writing featured in Teen Vogue, Adidas MiCoach Blog, and Sheraton publications. Edwina is also a former Australian athletics representative, sun-lover, and self-confessed chocoholic.