© 2019 by Erica Mouch, RDN, CD.

Quick Dinners for Busy Lives

Dinner time! By the time it rolls around or comes screaming at you, depending on your daily activities, it can be hard to figure out what to have or even what sounds good. Often, this leads to "let's order from food delivery service A or B" or drive-through dinners. These certainly have their time and place! However, having a few quick and easy ideas in your back pocket or back pantry can make dinner time that much easier.


Things to keep in mind:

1. Convenience foods can help! While they may not always be the 'healthiest', they can make dinner a breeze and adding a few things to them can make them more well rounded. A perfect example - Trader Joe's Asian frozen dinner option (Think: Mandarin Orange Chicken, Shiitake Mushroom Chicken or even Gyoza), whole grain (frozen brown rice or quinoa mix) and extra veggies. Frozen broccoli, stir fried vegetables or rice cauliflower are all great options. From these you can quickly make dinner, a gyoza soup or a simple stir fry with additional nutrition added.

2. Have a few go-to options, they can even be from the grocery store.

A few options: rotisserie chicken, mixed bagged salad and whole wheat tortillas - BAM you have a chicken wrap with salad. . B. Rice, beans, avocado and tomatoes or salsa. Grab a bag of coleslaw mix and you have taco bowls. Classic. C. Hummus, cucumbers, bell peppers and Triscuits or Mary's Gone Crackers. Easy and hardly any dishes.

3. Balance is the name the game. Give yourself some room for self-compassion! If all of your dinners looked like Food Network style food, that would be awesome for you. I'd also be curious if you slept or did other things or if you were a chef.


One Pot Pasta

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

12 ounces, whole wheat pasta (penne or fusilli works best)

4 garlic cloves

10 ounces of frozen broccoli

6 ounces of green beans, trimmed

8 ounces of large shrimp

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 c frozen green peas

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup of chopped basil

Red pepper flakes (for serving, optional)


Instructions:

Place pasta in a large, wide-bottomed pot or large, wide, straight-sided pan. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, and 3 cups of hot water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and cook, setting a timer for cooking pasta according to package directions and stirring often. When 5 minutes remain on timer, stir in broccoli and green beans. Cover pot and return to a boil. (If pot starts to dry out at any point, add another 1/2 cup water.) When 2 minutes remain on timer, stir in shrimp, tomatoes, peas, and butter. Cover and continue to cook 2 minutes, then uncover and cook, stirring, until pasta is tender, shrimp are cooked through, and water is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute more.

Add parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Loaded Sweet Potatoes

4 sweet potatoes (or 1 potato per person - also makes great leftovers)

Cheddar cheese

Black beans

Pumpkin seeds

Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice, salt and Chile powder to taste

chives/ green onions

Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes until they are fork tender. Split open, top with all ingredients as desired. Feel free to microwave the potatoes on med-high for 5-8 minutes until fork tender.


One Pot Chili

1 can of black beans

1 can of red kidney beans

1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes

1 package of soy chorizo (Trader Joes or other brand works well).

Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot until warmed through and serve! Serve with chopped veggies like carrots, celery and cucumbers on the side plus tortilla chips (of course!)

Adding ingredients like these to store-bought mandarin chicken makes for a quick dinner.