Quick Weeknight Meals (that are still healthy!)
Hi! Welcome back to my blog. I am so happy to have the time again to be able to write and share tips with you all! This year has been nuts, and I’m sure you feel that way as well. So I wanted to share some tips and ideas for quick weeknight meals (thanks for the idea, Mom!). If you’re anything like my family, we often end up eating takeout several nights a week due to busy schedules. And if you are working, keeping your children at home, and doing online schooling, etc. I’m sure you are even busier than I am! But with a few pantry staples and some tweaks to the cooking process, we can all eat a bit healthier while saving some precious time.
So my first tip is to use pre-cooked grains as the base of your meal. They literally take less than 2 minutes to cook (in the microwave, but they can also be cooked on the stovetop) and have just about the same nutrition as if you cooked it yourself. And many stores now carry healthier options that are plain and don’t have a bunch of added ingredients. The example I’m thinking of is rice. Most grocery stores carry pouches of pre-steamed rice or grains like quinoa that you can heat up very quickly. This is a great option for those of you wanting to have plenty of whole grains in your diet. (Extra tip- they also make small cups of these now and I often use these for quick lunches during my workdays.) Just check the ingredients before purchasing, and make sure that it is pretty much just rice! Minute Rice is a popular brand for these types of things, but you can also find some organic options with a wider range of grains as well.
Another quick trick is to use frozen vegetables for your side dish. If you have kids, frozen veggies are a life-saver. You can heat up just a small amount from the bag and save the rest in the freezer for another day. This is especially helpful if you have picky little ones at home, and you never know how much they are going to eat. Frozen mixed veggies, corn, broccoli, peas, carrots, green beans, etc. are all fine options! They even have things like cauliflower tots and zucchini fries now too. Again, most of these options take only minutes to heat up and then you can add some spices or herbs for flavor if needed. Frozen veggies are a great option that still have lots of nutrition. Vegetables and fruits about to be frozen are picked at the peak of ripeness and are maintained without heat, so still have all the nutrients intact (unlike canned veggies, which are heat treated, so lose some nutrients). Canned fruits and vegetables are another viable option, but I would definitely go for the frozen ones instead when possible.
My tips for proteins would be to go for something quick-cooking, like a ground meat. Beef is not your only option here, most stores now carry ground chicken, turkey, and pork as well. Many stores also have frozen fish that is pre-cut and portioned, which makes it quick to cook too. You could always go the canned or pouch fish route as well when in a pinch (I use these for lunch with the rice sometimes). Think of brands like Starkist or Bumblebee. Also, eating things like salmon with bones in it is super nutritious, giving you extra doses of calcium. Another option would be to buy a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week, and use the leftovers to make things like sandwiches, quesadillas, or salads.
My last tip will be to consider investing in some extra kitchen equipment to make your life easier. I use my Instant Pot (pressure cooker) and Crockpot (slow cooker) every week. The pressure cooker can make cooking times faster and is great for one-pot meals. If you have any extra time in the mornings, a slow cooker will do wonders for you because you can dump things in to cook all day and just leave it until dinner time! Well feel free to share more tips for making quick meals in the comments. Also, ask any questions you have!
Here are some actual recipes with quick meal ideas for you to try (most can be done in about 20 minutes!)-
If you want some recipes for your Instant Pot, check out my Pinterest board-