Trying to figure out what to make for dinner at the last minute can be a headache. I totally understand as I work full time as a registered dietitian/nutritionist for the military, have two kids and blog several days a week. Through my work, I know the importance of quick, healthy meals for busy families, as well as for the single airmen I advise professionally.
The best way to know what you are going to eat for dinner is to plan ahead the weekend before your week starts. My favorite way to do this is to take the days of week and decide what each day will be. For example, every Monday is a chicken dish or themed like, perhaps, Mexican night. To get you started with at least a week of pre-planned dishes, here are some of my favorite easy dinners that my family enjoys. I hope you will, too!
MONDAY: Homemade sloppy joes on sprouted grain buns with Boulder Canyon avocado oil canyon cut chips. The sloppy joe meat can be made the night before and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just pop it in the microwave to reheat the next day for dinner. My kids and I personally just like to use the sloppy joe like a dip with our chips, and sometimes I will add on some sliced cucumbers on the side.
TUESDAY: Rotisserie chicken, cauliflower mash and breaded asparagus. Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store on your way home from work and the additional two items here are quick sides.
WEDNESDAY: Kale and fruit salad. This dish goes well with some grilled chicken, so if you choose, you can grill the chicken while you put the salad together, or grill it in advance to add. Also, feel free to change the fruit to whatever fruit your family prefers (apple, orange, raspberry, mango, etc.) or whatever is in season.
THURSDAY: Buffalo tacos, pea guacamole with plantain chips.
FRIDAY: Crockpot meatballs. This dish can be made in advance just before it is cooked in crockpot. After adding the partially microwaved meatballs to the sauce in crockpot, I stick the crockpot container in the refrigerator. The next morning, it’s all ready to be cooked.
Homemade Sloppy Joe
Adapted from Southern Living Cookbook
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz. can tomato soup
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
sprouted grain hamburger buns
- Cook onions with ground meat in skillet over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
- Mix, ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar, mustard, garlic together.
- Add tomato soup and ketchup mixture to pan.
- Cook over medium-low heat until sauce is reduced, about 20 minutes.
- Serve sloppy joe on hamburger buns with side of Boulder Avocado Chips and cucumber slices.
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp of unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
salt and pepper
- Place cut cauliflower in bowel with broth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until tender, about 10 minutes (checking on as needed to stir, and for doneness).
- Add butter and seasonings to taste.
- With a potato masher, mash cauliflower until desired consistency adding more liquid as needed (if desire a creamier consistency then place cauliflower in food processor or blender).
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven 450 degrees.
- Put flour, egg, panko on separate rimmed plates.
- Dip asparagus in flour, then egg, then panko.
- Place asparagus on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
- Cook asparagus for 10 minutes or until golden.
Kale and Fruit Salad
1-2 bunches of kale, sliced thinly
8 oz. of strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup of nuts, chopped or sliced
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
- Dressing: squeeze lemon in glass jar and add olive oil, salt, pepper to taste. Shake to mix together.
- Salad: Place sliced kale in large bowl. Next, pour dressing over and massage kale with hands until softened and reduced in size by half.
- Place kale on platter and top with strawberries, nuts, and cheese.
Adapted from Alton Brown
1 lb. buffalo meat
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika or just regular paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2/3 cups of beef broth
- Drizzle some coconut oil in pan, add onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add meat and garlic; cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add half of the taco seasoning mix (or use to taste) and broth; cook until sauce reduced/thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add taco meat to favorite tortilla and top with salsa, cilantro, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.
Green Pea Guacamole with Plantain Chips
From Whole Foods
1 bunch cilantro
16 oz. bag frozen green peas, thawed
4 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
4 Tbsp lime juice, plus
- Add all ingredients to food processor and blend to desire consistency.
- Serve with plantain chips.
From America’s Test Kitchen
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
2/3 cup tomato paste
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed if any
2 large eggs
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
3 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- Cook Aromatics: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, tomato paste, 6 garlic cloves, oregano, pepper flakes, and ¼ tsp salt and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.
- Make Sauce: Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl; set aside. Add wine to pot with remaining onion mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then transfer to slow cooker.
- Form Meatballs: Add ½ cup parmesan, mozzarella, sausage, eggs, 3/4 tsp salt, and remaining garlic to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Mash with potato masher until smooth. Add beef and cream to bowl and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into 12 2-inch meatballs.
- Cook Meatballs: Microwave meatballs on large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 4-7 minutes. Nestle meatballs in slow cooker, discarding rendering fat. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 4-5hrs. Skim fat off top. Stir in basil and remaining Parmesan. Season with salt. Serve over pasta.
Want more recipes?
Check out my blog HolisticRDN.com for a recent post on quick and easy meals provided by a chef from Cherry Creek Whole Foods who conducts cooking demos for us at Buckley AFB.
As a holistic registered dietitian nutritionist, Angela has a passion to tell others about nutrition, because of its importance for prevention/treatment of chronic diseases, improving your mood, maximizing your performance, giving you energy, allowing you to lose weight, and much more. Check out her blog at HolisticRDN.com.