Cooking can be labor intensive. It doesn’t have to be. My family has a list of easy meals for when you just want to feed your family a healthy, affordable meal that won’t take forever to get on the table.
Fast food meals are often unhealthy and loaded with fat and calories, not an option for frequent weeknight meals. Not only are they unhealthy, but those costs can really add up!
There are a few ways you can skip the fast food drive through and still serve your family a nutritious and delicious meal any night of the week in little time. Our Easy Meals take very little prep work so you will soon be feeding your family healthy meals in no time flat.
Here are my 6 tips to create easy meals:
1. Go meat free
To save a lot of time focus on meat free meals. Vegetables typically take a lot less time to cook than proteins like beef and pork. Let’s not forget how much more healthy a vegetarian meal is than say a fatty steak . Plus most every supermarket offers cleaned and ready to cook veggies in the refrigerated and frozen food sections. Add coupons and a delicious vegetarian meal can be on the table in 20 minutes for less than $1 a serving!
Don’t forget about “brinner” as we call it – breakfast for dinner. You can scramble up some eggs in minutes. Serve with toast and fruit and you have a complete meal in under 10 minutes. You may want to try some of these breakfast ideas:
- Faux Cinnamon Rolls – Easy Cinnamon Biscuits
- BEST Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix
- Tasty Breakfast Sandwiches
- Light and Easy Quiche
- Make your Own Breakfast Burritos -They freeze great!
- Egg & Bacon Breakfast CasseroleYou may also want to check out our post – Easy Breakfast Recipes for Back to School – these work great for quick evenings too.
2. Have meat prepared ahead, or buy it prepared.
If you can’t convince your family to go vegetarian, cook you meat in advance and freeze it. It only takes minutes to heat up ground beef when it is already thawed or use some shredded chicken for some quick quesadillas when your chicken is already cooked.
Or you pick up some prepared meats instead. A rotisserie chicken, bagged reheatable chicken or beef strips in the refrigerated section and frozen , prepared fish, chicken and beef (pre-marinated) can shave a lot of time off your dinner preparation requirements.
While this might seem like they are expensive, you can actually get them pretty cheap if you buy them on sale with your coupons. Plus they are still cheaper than going through the drive thru.
3. Eat salads
Don’t dismiss salads as a filling meal. Add some prepared and refrigerated meats , a loaf of french bread and maybe some seeds or nuts to your salad for a complete and filling meal. You can always use pre-mixed salads with all the fixings to save even more prep time. Make sure you learn how to keep your salad fresh longer so you can save even more money.
4. Buy frozen dinners or boxed dinners on sale
Lastly look for more gourmet frozen dinners, which can be quite good. Many of these frozen meal packages also have suggestions for adding different vegetables or proteins to a meal to make it more complete and filling. While these might not always be the “healthiest” options they are still much better than a jumbo size fries. 😉 I stock up on these when I can get them on sale for when we have “one of those nights” when dinner got away from me.
5. Group meals together in the fridge.
After grocery shopping you can always group ingredients for a meal together in the refrigerator and pre-chop, peel or slice fruits and veggies on weekends when you have more time. This is an easy to step to help cut your actually prepping time in half during the busy work week.
6. Use your crock pot or other tools
There are many tools to make cooking faster and easier such as Pressure cookers, crock pots and convection ovens. A little planning with these kitchen tools can save many hours of cooking time over the course of a week.
Here are some of our favorite crockpot meals that can be tossed in in minutes:
- The Best Crockpot Chicken Tacos – only 3 ingredients
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie
- Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- BBQ Sloppy Joes Recipe – the Best Weeknight meal!
Now that you have read these tips to create easy meals – I suggest that you sit down and make a list of easy meals that you can make for your family when you are in a pinch.
Whatever you decide, saving time, calories and money by cooking at home can be accomplished by utilizing these few tips mentioned above. Avoiding take-out will benefit your family’s health and waistline as well as creating time to spend together.
With a little pre-planning you can serve a filling and healthy meal to your family every night of the week, no drive thru required! 🙂