If you are a busy working adult or parent, you know how harried the evening hours can get when you’re trying to get a meal on the table, especially if you have active and busy children. If you put pressure on yourself to prepare the perfect meal, you might feel an added layer of stress. And sure, meal planning is great in theory, but sometimes there’s just not enough brain space for meal planning. It is possible to plan and prepare simple evening meals, however. Here are a few guiding themes.
Keep it simple
Meals don’t have to be traditional or elaborate to be both nutritious and satisfying. I’m not suggesting you lower you bar, but if you don’t like or don’t have time to cook, don’t shy away from convenience foods. Items like frozen ravioli and bean burritos, veggie-based meal starters and salad kits can lead to full-scale meals with just a few simple additions. Paired with a green salad and a piece of fruit, you have yourself a solid meal.
Five weeknight meal themes
Weeknights can be especially hectic. Don’t think about the meal details so much. Instead, consider meal “themes”. This will give you some flexibility, depending on what you have in the house. Here are five themes, and an example of each. Be creative with your own details.
- Quesadillas – seasoned black beans, mushrooms, spinach, peppers and shredded cheese on a whole wheat or brown rice tortilla (skip the cheese for vegan-style). Serve with a green salad and sliced fruit.
- Omelets/or scrambled egg tortillas- eggs are the perfect protein and omelets make for an easy and nutritious evening meal. Combine with your choice of sliced vegetables and pair with a fresh spinach salad.
- Stir-fry – Choose your protein (chicken, steak, shrimp , tofu or beans) and stir-fry with a bag of frozen vegetables and brown rice – a simple and filling one-dish meal.
- Sandwiches - Whip up some tuna salad sandwiches. Serve with sliced peppers and carrots. Top it off with a bowl of fruit.
- Salads – Prepare a salad with your favorite veggies. For an extra protein boost that is kid-friendly, pair it with a NuGo protein bar, like NuGo Dark or NuGo Family.
If you’re not into meal planning, it is helpful to be prepared with a few of the basics.
Keep your kitchen stocked with some of these items that can be mixed and matched for a variety of meals. Here’s a basic list:
___Pre-cut vegetables and fruits
___Canned tuna or salmon
___ Pasta and brown rice
Once you determine your list of go-to meals, be sure to keep a record of what you will need to keep on-hand. Before you know it, you just might be planning meals.