We have all been there – the daily struggle of work, kids, commuting and after school activities draws to an end and yet you are left with screaming children and no idea what to make for dinner. The good news is that it is possible to prepare a quick, easy and nutritious meal in a few minutes, provided you have some key ingredients on hand.
When meals are prepared in a hurry, high carb, low vegetable options tend to be the ones that fill our plates. Noodles, pasta or toast all common favourites, especially for kids. Ideally though, we need something that contains some vegetables as well as some lean protein if we are to keep the nutrition up and the calories down and to help promote balanced eating habits long term. So, here are my favourite dinner ingredients that can combine to make a healthy, family friendly recipe in literally a few minutes.
The health benefits of eating fish regularly are well publicised but it can be more challenging to have fresh fish available, or to get the kids to eat it! The good news is that there are an increasing number of frozen fish varieties which are both nutritious and that also taste good. Check nutrition labels and try and choose varieties that contain less than 10 g of total fat per 100g.
Yes, frozen vegetables are still good choices nutritionally, if you do not over cook them. Another benefit of frozen vegetable varieties is that unlike tinned varieties, frozen vegetables do not contain added salt. The growing number of tasty vegetable options with all of your favourite sauces too makes it easier to get your daily serves of vegetables even if you only have 5 minutes to prepare a meal. Remember, the more colourful the vegetables in the pack, the better they wil be for you. Try steaming or stir frying to retain as much nutrition as you can.
Tomato pasta sauce
Whether you added it to pasta, cook your meat in it or sauté seafood, lycopene rich tomato pasta sauce can basically be added to any meal and with a sprinkle or parmesan you have a meal. Salt reduced options will also be slightly better choices.
Peppercorn Lean Sausages
If there is one type of meat that kids are happy to eat, it is a sausage and the good news is that Peppercorn Lean Sausages available from Woollies are the leanest snags on the market. Team them with cut up salad, vegetables or some wholegrain bread for a quick, tasty and nutritious dinner option.
Another pantry staple, tinned tuna can also be added to pasta, a jacket potato or bread or crackers for a tasty nutritious meal option. While low fat varieties of tuna may appear to be better nutritionally, remember that you get a significant amount of omega 3 fat from tinned tuna, so for this reason the low fat varieties may not be the best choice.
Again, a sprinkle of cheese on top of the right mix of foods can make a meal and mozzarella has significantly less fat than Parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Add to jacket potatoes, grilled chicken or veal or on top of homemade pizza for a calcium hit, minus the fat.
PLUS, on the topic of easy meals, don’t forget my midweek meals competition with my friends at the Peppercorn Food Company where you can win yourself a De’Longhi MultiFry appliance (pictured) as well as a goody bag of Peppercorn products and merchandise. All you need to do is share your quick, healthy and delicious midweek meal idea using Peppercorn’s Chicken Sausages over on the Peppercorn Facebook page by April 12 to be in the running.
For midweek meal recipe inspiration, see my recipe for Chicken San Choy Bau here.
About the De’Longhi MultiFry.
The Multifry is an innovative cooking appliance combining a low-oil fryer and a multicooker. It enables you to rapidly fry tasty fresh potatoes in a healthier way with minimum oil and to prepare hundreds of recipes: from risottos to cous cous, from stews to ratatouille.