by Michelle Porter, MPH, RD
Simple and easy meals are essential for the fourth trimester, but we often think of dinners as needing to be complicated meals that require a lot of preparation. With a three-year-old and one-year-old, my family doesn’t go out to dinner much, but when we do, what does everyone often order? Sandwiches, paninis, wraps, salads, soups, etc. We often forget about these as perfectly fine and easy options for home dinners, too. These dinner ideas can be prepped in only a few minutes. They do require you to have the right foods on hand, so check out the grocery delivery blog if that is a challenge for you!
Here are some options for quick-and-easy meals for the frazzled new mama with a cluster feeding newborn; the working, pumping mama who wants to maximize her evening hours with her family; or the family needing a quick dinner between school, homework, and extracurricular activities. Many of these meal ideas may be more associated with breakfasts or lunches, but they are healthy, nutritionally well-rounded, satisfying meals that work great in the evenings as well.
- Grilled cheese with tomato soup. Substitute grilled hummus and veggies if you are a dairy-free mama.
- Breakfast for dinner!
- Vegetable omelets with whole wheat toast
- Veggie and black bean or ham, cheese, and asparagus frittata with sprouted grain English muffins
- French toast with whole grain or sprouted grain bread, a spread of almond butter once plated, and topped with sliced berries and a drizzle of maple syrup
- Scrambled eggs and avocado toast
- Super easy stir fry: one can of beans of your choice (drained), one bag of frozen vegetables of your choice, one grain of your choice (rice, farro, barley, quinoa, pasta). Stir fry beans, vegetables, and your choice of additional protein (tofu, seitan, tempeh, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp) until cooked through and then add one of the following sauces: Asian stir fry sauce, teriyaki, tomato sauce, salsa and taco seasoning, or bottled curry sauce. This basic recipe of shelf-stable or freezer ingredients comes together quicker than any take out can be delivered. Serve over the grain for a very healthy and very simple meal.
- Bagged salad kits with rotisserie chicken and a fruit of your choice, such as strawberries, mango, oranges, or apple. Add a can of drained beans and/or cooked grain for a delicious and filling meal.
- Chicken salad, tuna salad, deli turkey and avocado, or hummus and roasted veggie wraps or sandwiches. Pack in the greens, cucumber, peppers, onions, or other favorite sandwich veggies. Serve sandwiches with a can of baked beans and fresh sliced fruit. Leftovers work well for lunches!
- Leftovers stuffed into sourdough or pumpernickel panini bread slices and grilled. A spread of hummus or spicy mustard is great on these. Sandwiches are a crowd pleaser at my house and great way to get rid of leftovers.
- Grilled salmon burgers, bean burgers, beef or turkey burgers, or chicken sausage with broccoli or cauliflower bites or tots (from the grocery store’s freezer section; Dr. Prager’s is a brand to look for) and bagged salad.
- Baked sweet potato topped with baked beans, baked white potato stuffed with broccoli, white beans and cheese, or hummus and veggies. Serve with salad or your favorite cooked vegetable. Add additional shrimp or rotisserie or grilled chicken if you want more protein.
There are plenty of easy meal options that can come together quickly when your valuable time is limited. Think about the meals you might order if you were going out to lunch on a Saturday and replicate them at home. Just because a meal is simple does not mean it can’t cover all of your nutritional bases and satisfy your hunger until your next meal. With a little creative thinking and careful grocery shopping, you can whip up many simple, delicious meals for your family that are sure to please.
Michelle Porter, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian, board-certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and a Balanced Breastfeeding Mentor.
For the past 10 years, Michelle has worked as an outpatient dietitian. Her areas of experience include bariatric surgery, nonsurgical weight management, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, hypertension and PCOS. She also has personal and professional experience in plant-based nutrition and completed eCornell’s Plant Based Nutrition certification (2017). Although Michelle has a great deal of expertise in these areas, she is also willing and very interested in working with anyone who needs the assistance of an RD.
Michelle has a passion for nutrition and helping others. Being a nutritionist is truly a vocation for Michelle, a rewarding career that also remains a hobby in her personal life and, she feels, one of her greatest gifts to her family on a daily basis.
If you are interested in a free nutrition consultation with Michelle, sign up by clicking on the green button here.
featured image by Angie Gray