Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners for Busy Parents




Planning family meals can be a challenge when we get busy, but we know that eating together is one of the best ways to eat more healthfully while sharing and caring for each other. How can you make this happen? Try some of these ideas for quick dinners:

Hold Special “Buffet” Nights!
  • Host a salad bar, and allow family members to create their own personal salad.  Have large bowls of shredded/torn lettuce for each person to make their own salad. Smaller bowls of add-ins will give each person a chance to customize their own favorites. Diced meat, shredded cheese, cubed tomatoes, sliced sweet peppers—the list is nearly endless! Have a variety of low-fat dressings to top the salad.
 
  •  Make Your Own Taco Night is often a hit! Brown low-fat hamburger ahead of time and refrigerate, then set out taco shells, the hamburger, salsa, and shredded lettuce and cheese. Clean-up is quick, too!
 
  •  Sandwich Night can be fun when you have a selection of low-fat sliced meats to pick from. Remember the whole grain bread or buns! Rinse some lettuce leaves and slice some tomatoes, then have spreads like mustard and mayonnaise for each person to add to their sandwich. Or, if your kids love peanut butter and jelly, set those out for them to make up their own PB&J sandwiches!
 

How about breakfast for dinner? Mix up a batch of pancakes, brown up some sausage or ham, cut up a big bowl of fresh fruit, and serve breakfast for dinner! Kids love to mix up the foods they eat!  Another breakfast idea might be a cereal or oatmeal bar.  Have different kinds of whole grain cereals available for your kids to choose from.  Include fresh fruits like blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and bananas. 

Slow-cookers aren’t just for winter eating! Soups are a filling meal all year long or mix up a big pot of veggies with chicken and enjoy a steamy stew.  Need a soup idea?  See our previous blog post on One Dish Meals for a quick and easy meal idea the whole family will love!  
 
Another tip: Another great tip to try if you have more time to cook on the weekends is to prepare family meals ahead of time and freeze them. Use the microwave to re-heat the meal when you need it. Chili, lasagna, and casseroles are all great re-heated meals.

Remember to serve low-fat or non-fat milk with your meals and have fruit for dessert. Now, sit back and enjoy some family time!



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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall