It's four o'clock and you've just thought of dinner. Yikes - what are some simple meal ideas that you can pull together without a lot of time or effort? Try these 6 ideas for quick, healthy meals:
1. Baked Potato Bar
Most everyone loves potatoes, and they are one of the best cheap meal ideas out there. Why not center a meal around them? You can bake a potato in the microwave in 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the potato (be sure to prick the potato with a fork before cooking). Set out dishes of toppings: shredded cheese, broccoli (microwave frozen broccoli is quick), bacon bits, sour cream, chili - use your imagination.
2. Roasted Chicken and Veggies
Cut up two or three uncooked chicken breasts, along with a few carrots and a few potatoes; put in a roasting pan. Mix a package of dry onion soup mix with 1/3 cup olive oil to pour over the chicken and veggies, and bake 45 minutes at 450 degrees. You can substitute other vegetables to suit your family's tastes. Quick and delicious!
3. Fresh Pasta
Fresh pasta is your friend! Although it costs a bit more than dry
pasta, it cooks more quickly and has better texture. Choose a type of
ravioli or tortelinni that looks interesting, and serve with canned
pasta sauce for a quick and tasty meal.
4. Taco Night
Your kids will beg for taco night over and over, and it's so easy that you will become an instant fan as well. You will just need to assemble the ingredients and set them along the counter: taco shells and tortillas, shredded lettuce and cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, beans (refried or black are popular choices), olives, and whatever else is popular with your family. A bottle of taco sauce will help you put the finishing touch on this simple meal idea.
5. Make Your Own Pizza
Pizza can be an quick and easy meal choice. The key is using a purchased pizza crust. You can purchase refrigerated pizza crust dough, or you can buy crusts already baked and seasoned - the choice is yours. A fun idea is to let each family member put his own toppings of choice on his part of the pizza. You may even want to purchase or make individual pizzas for each family member. Pepperoni, sausage, various veggies, pizza sauce and cheese are ideas for toppings. Pop the pizza in the oven, and you'll have a delicious meal in minutes!
6. Gourmet Mac n Cheese
Popular with kids, this twist on mac n cheese includes meat and vegetables, as well as the familiar pasta. Prepare a box of macaroni and cheese, and add a pound of cooked ground chuck and a 16-ounce bag of frozen vegetables. Heat all ingredients together in a large pot or skillet, and there you have it - a one-pot meal with all the food groups included.
These meal ideas will enable you to quickly put together a dinner that is healthier and more inexpensive than eating out or going to the drive-through.
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.