Healthy dinners in a hurry – Dietitian-approved tips for quick, easy and nutritious meals

    submitted by Stephanie Perez, RD, ShopRite Corporate Dietitian Supervisor,

    Think healthy eating and hectic springtime schedules can’t go together?

    Think again!

    No matter how busy your life is, there’s always time to eat healthy. Best of all, creating crowd-pleasing meals that are easy, fast and delicious can be super-simple and affordable.

    Here are some of the best tips for creating memorable meals that are a breeze to make, and will leave you with plenty of free time to spend with family and friends.

    Q. What are some ways to make cooking at home fast and easy?

    A. Start with items that are semi-prepared, such as rotisserie chicken, steam-in-bag brown rice, and/or frozen, bagged veggies. You can pair your meal with one of the many varieties of quick, bagged salads that are readily available in ShopRite’s produce department. And voilà! Dinner is served.

    Q. What kinds of appliances can help?

    A. Any appliance that can help speed up the meal process, such as a crock-pot, Instapot or multi-cooker, or even a blender, can be helpful when you’re trying to find more time in your schedule for enjoying meals. I especially like the slow cooker or pressure cooker, because they’re more hands-off. You can put the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning before work, and come home to a finished meal in the evening. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    Q. What are the best kinds of things to cook in large batches that can be frozen, but still healthy?

    A. There are so many options. One favorite meal that freezes really well is frozen lasagna with whole grain noodles and added veggies. Freezer-friendly entrees such as soup or chili are also excellent choices. You can also make a big batch of burritos, waffles/pancakes, or turkey meatballs – whatever you enjoy – then simply defrost in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.

    Q. How can you make the most of leftovers?

    A. Often people think that eating leftovers means you have to eat the same thing day after day – but that’s not the case. Think of leftovers as ingredients that can provide you inspiration for new recipe combinations. For instance, consider making what is referred to as a ”kitchen sink” soup. Soup is a great way to use up any ingredients in your fridge that are starting to get past their prime, or are left over from previous meals. For example, if you have carrots, half an onion, green beans, kale and chicken, chop them up and add to a container of stock, to have a nutritious soup ready to eat in no time.

    Q. How can I plan less “traditional” meals and still be healthy?

    A.  When planning meals, look for entrees the entire family will eat, even if it’s less “traditional” than what you’d consider a typical dinner meal. For instance, do you love breakfast? Why not make a breakfast burrito for dinner, or top your avocado toast with an egg? Another idea is the combination of a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup, which can easily be brought to the next level by using whole grain bread, low-fat cheese, and adding some spinach to your soup. When it comes to creating meals at home that your entire family will enjoy, as long as you find ways to incorporate a good balance of whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein and low-fat dairy into your meals, you can be sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to keep you full and give your body energy.