Dinner Fast and Easy: Quick Tips to Get a Healthy Dinner on the Table

If you think you don't have time to make dinner, think again. With these ideas, you'll be a professional at-home chef in no time.

Plan ahead.
Nothing has people reaching for the take out menu faster than a lack of planning. If you've been trying to plan dinner after 5 pm, odds are that you give up on cooking most days. Make sure to plan at least five meals each week before you go to the grocery store for the week, so you have the ingredients on hand. (Printable grocery coupons are here.)  If you have enough food to make several different types of meals, you'll be less likely to eat out.

Each morning, decide what you'll make for dinner that night. You may want to put any meat that needs to defrost in the refrigerator. You'll also want to make sure you have all of the ingredients. Review the recipe and figure out when you'll need to start making dinner in order to have it done on time.

Come up with a system for dinner recipes.

It's easy to make a quick dinner when you have a system that works. Keep it simple. Your dinners can be protein, carbohydrate, plus veggie. This formula can cover a wide range of possibilities Рbaked chicken, cheesy noodles and broccoli, grilled steak with peppers and onions served with tortillas, saut̩ed ground beef with Asian vegetables served over rice. The possibilities are endless!

Save time with frozen vegetables.

Everyone needs more vegetables and serving frozen vegetables are an easy way to get more into your family's diet. Keep a wide variety of frozen vegetables on hand. You can change the flavor with spices, margarine mixed with lemon juice or even Italian dressing. A few minutes in the microwave or on the stovetop with a vegetable steamer and you'll have vegetables for your meal.

Cook some ingredients ahead of time.
Ground beef can be used in many different recipes, from spaghetti to tacos. It takes just as much time to brown two pounds of beef as it does to brown a half a pound. On a weekend, brown and freeze several pounds of ground beef or ground turkey. This way, the next time you cook a recipe that calls for ground beef you'll just have to reheat it. You can do the same thing with chicken pieces.

Keep alternatives at the ready.
Even the most well planned menu can come undone from time to time. Keep a few frozen meals at the ready. Frozen lasagna, skillet meals and other pre-packaged foods are okay every once in a while. You can improve the nutrition of these processed meals by adding more vegetables and serving health side dishes.

For those special occasion meals when you need gourmet fare, consider a service that delivers prepared meals or gourmet entrees to your home (such as Home Bistro or Omaha Steaks). This option can get expensive if you use it a lot, but both companies issue online coupons and promotions from time to time. Check here for current Home Bistro Coupons; and here for Omaha Steaks coupons.

No comments: