When you think of convenience foods what comes to mind? Drive-thru burgers and fries, microwavable meals, frozen pizzas, and bags of chips are the foods that probably come to mind. For busy families who are rushing from one activity to the next, convenience usually means fast food or prepackaged processed foods loaded with calories, fat, and sodium and low in nutrients. You can give your kids a healthier meal; with just a little planning, you can make a nutritious meal in minutes. Here are some time-saving snacks and meals to help you skip the drive-thru and avoid the prepackaged junk food. Now, how’s that for convenience!
The perfect grab and go snack! Fresh fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, peaches, and oranges come prepackaged and ready to go!
Pre-washed and ready to eat, bagged salad makes a healthy side for any meal. Or make the salad your entrée by adding chicken breasts or sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Frozen fish fillets
These can be purchased individually packaged and thaw very quickly. Top with herbs and olive oil or garlic and lemon and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes. Add some thawed frozen veggies for a healthy quick meal.
Yogurt is a conveniently packaged breakfast or snack for on the go. Or freeze yogurt for a healthier alternative to frozen pops or ice cream.
Keep frozen vegetables in your freezer for a convenient healthy side to add to any meal. They can be thawed and ready in minutes.
A handful of nuts are a nutrient rich snack for on the go.
Whole grain cereal or oatmeal
Quick and easy just add milk, nuts, and fruit for a complete nutritious meal or snack.
Precut veggies and fruit
Not just for parties, trays of fruits and veggies can be brought out as a snack or to round out any meal. Buy bagged precut veggies you can quickly steam in the microwave for a healthy side. Kids will also enjoy the variety of different fruits and veggies.
Double your recipe
If you are making soup make double or triple the recipe to freeze for a meal later in the month. Almost any recipe can be frozen and used later. This is a huge time saver! Twice the meals with the same amount of clean-up!
Use your grill
Grilling meat can be quick and requires less clean up than using the stove or oven. Veggies can be placed in foil seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grilled alongside your meat for a complete meal with no pans to wash.
Plan your weekly menu in advance
Try to only grocery shop once a week. This will require planning but this plan will also allow you to avoid last minute stops at the drive-thru.
Try cooking once a week
If you don’t have a lot a time during the week to cook try cooking for the entire week on one day. Many things can be prepped in advance so it is ready to throw in the oven. Cook extra meat that can be used in recipes throughout the week. Doing all of the prep work in one day will save lots of time on those hectic nights.
For kids a healthy meal does not have to be complicated. A protein, grain, and a veggie can complete a quick meal. Use healthy snacks throughout the day as an opportunity to fill in nutrition gaps.