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Easy and Healthy Meals for School Nights

Categories: Nutrition

Easy and Healthy Meals for School Nights

I am a full time registered dietitian, mom, wife, and volunteer.  I love my fast-paced life, but sometimes find I am very short on time, especially on week nights when dinner, baths, and homework are all competing!  With a household that looks to me for dinners that are not only yummy but nutritious, I have to be innovative and creative to find budget-friendly recipes that are kid- and husband-approved!  Check out these ideas for this week’s dinners.

Taco Salad Twist:

  1. Cut up dark and light meat from a rotisserie chicken and place in a bowl.
  2. Combine one can of shoepeg corn and one can of low sodium black beans (drained and rinsed) in a pot with a large pinch of cumin. Heat until warm.  Add to chicken.
  3. Place a plentiful serving of lettuce on a plate (I like Romaine, but you can use any lettuce of your choice)
  4. Add chicken and corn/bean mixture on top of lettuce.
  5. Top with salsa, light sour cream, and a sprinkling of Mexican cheese.

For a second night with leftover ingredients, consider using flour tortillas to make a wrap.  Combine salsa and sour cream with a few drops of hot sauce for a kicked-up sauce.

Hummus and Veggie Pita Pockets:

  1. Spread hummus in a whole wheat pita pocket. I like roasted red pepper, but there are so many wonderful flavors of hummus. Pick your favorite!
  2. Add fresh veggies of your choice to pita pocket-baby spinach, red/yellow/green bell peppers, fresh mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, olives. Make it as colorful as possible!
  3. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  4. Place under the broiler just until cheese is melted.
  5. Consider adding chicken, beef or tofu-whatever you have on hand or leftover!

For a second night with leftover ingredients, sauté the leftover vegetables in a teaspoon of canola oil until tender.  Use leftover whole wheat pita pockets and spread with jarred pasta sauce.  Top with mozzarella cheese for a pita pizza!

Put the Square back into Dinner:

It doesn’t always have to be an elaborate recipe.  Dinner can be as fast and easy as pan frying lean pork chops with a light touch of cooking spray in the fry pan.  Combine with a serving of your favorite frozen, microwavable vegetables.  Look for prepared rice in the frozen foods section or in the rice section of the grocery store.  For added flavor, try fresh herbs in the rice such as cilantro and add lime for freshness.  A little sprinkle of cheese is also a flavor booster for vegetables such as broccoli.

Dinnertime doesn’t have to slow you down!  Keep it simple and plan ahead.

About the Author

Melissa Payne, MS, RDN, LD/N is a clinical nutrition manager at Orlando Health with over 15 years of experience in clinical nutrition.  She has a passion for patient care and oversees inpatient and outpatient nutrition for three Orlando Health hospitals. 

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