Thawing, prepping, cooking – making dinner can be time consuming. But before you call for take-out, consider these time-saving tips from Virtua clinical dietitian, Kristen Walter, to make healthy family dinners in a flash.
- Plan ahead
Browse your weekly grocery circular for meal-time inspiration. This will also help you save money by taking advantage of special offers. Shop and do your prep work on the weekends to save time on the week nights.
- Freeze it
Frozen vegetables are a convenient, healthy ingredient for any family dinner. Many come in microwave-friendly packaging, so there is nothing to prep or clean. Kristen suggests avoiding canned veggies, as many of the storage liquids contain added sodium.
Alternatively, grab some chopped veggies, like peppers, onions, and mushrooms, from your grocery store’s salad bar. Pre-cut and reasonably priced, you can toss them into omelets or fajitas.
- Double up
Double your recipe to get twice the food for little to no additional work. Portion out the leftovers in refrigerator- or freezer-friendly containers. Leftovers can be easily thawed and re-heated at a later date.
When packaging up hot foods, Kristen suggests using an ice bath to cool the food and get it in the refrigerator or freezer more quickly. This decreases the chance for contamination.
- Cook slow
Toss your dinner into the crock pot and have it ready for your family when you walk in the door. Kristen recommends using lean meats like turkey breast or pork tenderloin.
Add sturdy vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions that will hold up over hours of cooking.
- Reinvent leftovers
Kristen suggests whipping up some parboiled brown rice or thin wheat pasta such as angel hair or thin spaghetti, which cook faster. Use it as a neutral base to toss with leftover meats and veggies in a stir-fry approach.
Low sodium broths or sauces easily punch up the flavor. Also consider turning your leftover meats into grilled sandwiches or paninis using whole grain bread