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5 quick dinner ideas

For many, time is a precious commodity. And evenings can really put the spotlight on just how limited time can be. Long work days, kids’ homework or after-school activities, and finding time for a workout are all things that may compete for your evening hours.

While I do think there is something to be said for prioritizing time to actually prepare and sit for an evening meal (yes, it may require giving up something else, like TV watching or work brought home), most folks can expect some evenings where both lack of time and diminished energy level mean only a quick-prepared meal will do. But you don’t have to sacrifice health and/or taste in the process.

So here are 5 ideas for quick dinner meals, including a handout on my favorite pantry staples – things to have on hand in the kitchen to ensure you can pull together a quick nutritious meal.

  1. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s not just for kids! There are an abundance of simple, boxed or canned tomato soups out there. Warm on the stove or in the microwave – both are relatively quick. Jazz up the sandwich with some whole grain bread and any tasty cheese you have on hand. Use either a pan or panini press to toast it up.

  2. Eggs for dinner. One of the most price-friendly protein sources – eggs. And they cook up quickly in a pan. You can add vegetables to make an egg-veggie scramble, or place a sunny-side-up egg on top of toast and wilted kale or spinach. Pair it with whole grain toast and some fruit.

  3. The big salad. The sky (or your refrigerator content) is the limit with salads. If it’s the whole meal, be certain it contains these four biggies: non-starchy vegetables (think spinach, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc.), protein (such as chicken, fish, or eggs), healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts), and quality carbohydrates (whole grains or starchy vegetables, like corn, peas, or potatoes). You can get creative as you want. One of my favorites: spinach with leftover turkey burger, feta cheese, corn, raisins, almonds and olive oil with a slice of whole grain bread on the side.

  4. Stir-fried…anything. Don’t get too caught up in recipes or thinking dinner needs to be gourmet. Take a peak in your fridge and freezer – a good portion of it could probably be sautéed together. Throw some frozen broccoli, chopped onion, and canned beans into a pan. Add some soy or teriyaki sauce if preferred. Have it with pre-cooked brown rice. Done!

  5. Anything with rotisserie chicken. The protein part of a meal often takes the longest to prepare, so using a rotisserie chicken is more than half the battle. How you choose to use it is up to you. Have tortillas? Make some chicken quesadillas. Craving a sandwich? Use light mayo or avocado to make chicken salad. Or use it as the protein in your big salad (above).

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