Is your dinner menu stuck in a rut? It happens to all of us. To spice things up and keep both the kids and adults in your family happy at dinner time, try these 5 healthy, easy dinner ideas to jump start your creativity and add a little variety to your evening meal – without spending all day in the kitchen.
- Tacos, Burritos, or Quesadillas: The beauty of these dishes is that they are endlessly customizable, encouraging picky eaters to try foods they might otherwise reject. You can sneak meat and veggies (chicken and spinach is a favorite combination at my house) into the cheesy goodness of a quesadilla, or set out a variety of healthy options (such as lean, lightly seasoned meat, tomatoes, avocados, and black beans) for kids to fill their own whole wheat tortillas with.
- Slow cooker: Slow cookers are a great option for days when you’ll be out (or busy) right up until dinner time. Spend a little time preparing the meal in the morning and then let it cook all day while you tend to other things. So many dishes can be prepared in the slow cooker, including many varieties of chicken and beef, as well as hearty soups like this corn chowder.
- Breakfast for Dinner: The novelty of eating breakfast foods at dinner time is a big hit in many households. As a bonus, most breakfast meals are relatively quick to make. For the healthiest options, skip the heavy, starchy foods like pancakes, and concentrate on high-protein options that pack in the nutrients like a veggie omelette, rounded out with whole wheat toast, fresh fruit, and low-sugar yogurt.
- Chicken Nuggets: Yes, your kids might love the frozen or fast food kind, but why not up the health factor a bit without adding too much work? Simply cut up your favorite type of chicken meat, dip the pieces in a liquid (usually milk and egg), then in your favorite crunchy coating (you can use bread crumbs, but also try cornmeal, crushed pretzels, or tortilla chips ), and bake in the oven. Serve with a healthy dipping sauce like this yogurt dip, and a veggie side (try these sweet potato “fries”) and dinner is served for the whole family – not just the kids! If you make a large batch and freeze them, then the next time around, they will be just as quick and easy as the store-bought version, but most likely with less sodium, fat and preservatives, and higher quality meat.
- Fish: It seems that every time I turn around, I am hearing something about the health benefits of fish. People are sometimes intimidated by the idea of cooking fish, but there’s no reason it has to be difficult. Try this delicious roasted salmon recipe, or if you love fish and chips, but not all the fat that comes with fried foods, go for this baked version.