8 Healthy Dinners for Working Moms
Just because you work full-time doesn’t mean your family has to eat out or make unhealthy food choices to save time. Here are eight fast but healthy dinners you can make in 20 minutes or less.
1. Beef Sandwich Au Jus – buy a quality package of deli sliced roast beef with as few nitrates and additives as possible. Warm it in a pan with a little water, natural beef bouillon (with no MSG) and possibly a dash of steak sauce or Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve hot on crusty wheat buns with a slice of swiss cheese and with the leftover juice for dipping. Add a plate of crunchy baby carrots with a blob of ranch in the middle and you’re ready to sit down and eat in minutes.
2. BBQ Chicken and Rice – Before work, throw a frozen package of chicken thighs or legs into your crockpot and cover with your favorite BBQ or sweet ‘n sour sauce, a little water, and some salt and pepper and cook it on low all day. When you get home, start the rice boiling. By the time you’ve changed your clothes and answered the kids’ questions, the rice should be done. Throw a package of frozen vegetables into the microwave and you’re ready to eat a tasty and kid-friendly meal.
3. Alfredo – While spaghetti noodles are boiling, make a fast alfredo sauce using a brick of cream cheese, garlic powder, milk and water to thin it, salt and pepper and mozzarella cheese. Add a crunchy salad and maybe garlic bread toasted quickly in the oven. A few real bacon bits on top helps to raise the protein level and add dimension to the flavor.
4. Chinese Chicken Stir Fry –when you buy chicken breasts, pull the package apart and chop them up for fast meals during the week. Then, grab a package of chopped chicken out of the freezer and defrost quickly in the microwave. Start the pot of rice cooking. (In India, they put dry rice in the bottom of a pot, then cover it with water and add more water until it is past the first knuckle of your finger above the level of rice. That’s about the right amount of water to boil quickly and make fluffy rice.) Cook chicken in hot pan with a little olive oil and some onions (also can be sliced up ahead of time and kept in baggies in the fridge) and garlic if desired. Season with salt, pepper, ginger, powdered garlic and soy sauce. Meanwhile, microwave mixed vegetables. When they are tender and hot, add to chicken and finish cooking with some additional soy sauce. (Change soy sauce to sweet ‘n sour sauce if desired, but add before serving.)
5. Bruchetta – cut crispy bread into 1” pieces and put on a greased cookie sheet. Spread with your favorite pesto or pizza sauce or make your own with tomato sauce, olive oil, pinch of sugar and Italian seasoning. Add your favorite toppings: pepperonis, thinly sliced green peppers, onion, mushrooms, cheese and more. Sprinkle with Italian or pizza seasoning and bake until bubbly. Serve with a spinach salad with sliced almonds, dried cranberries, a little swiss cheese and a vinaigrette like raspberry. You can make a quick bruchetta dip on your plate with a tablespoon of olive oil and some red wine vinegar dashed across it.
6. Exploding Green Peppers – ahead of time, fry up a big batch of ground beef with onions and baggie it into meal sizes and freeze for the week. (Some of it can be fashioned into meatballs and cooked and frozen as well.) Grab one bag of cooked ground beef and defrost in microwave. Start the rice cooking. In a pan, add beef, a can of tomato soup (or two for bigger families) and 1” chunks of green peppers. Simmer the sauce together just until the peppers are softened but not mushy. When the rice is done, serve the sauce spooned over the rice. It will remind you of stuffed green peppers only without the fuss. Serve with fresh fruit.
7. Chef Salads – quickly fry chicken chunks and season with fajita seasoning, salt and pepper. Make individual salads with any of the following: mixed greens, onion strips, green and red pepper strips, baby carrots or carrots peeled quickly on top of salad, cucumbers, boiled eggs, cheese, sunflower seeds, cooked chicken, real bacon bits, crunchy toppings, edamame, garbanzo or kidney beans and more. Add a few crackers, tortilla chips or a slice of wheat bread on the side.
8. Fried Fish – Fish only need 3 minutes on each side to cook, unless it is a very thick cut like salmon. Dredge the fish in a fast coating of flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper and dill, then fry in olive oil. Make a pan of instant mashed potatoes. (Instant potatoes have nutritional content very similar to whole mashed potatoes, so it is a viable shortcut for working moms.) Serve with fresh sugar peas or microwave a bag of edamame.
When you think about it, you spend the same or less time preparing a fast, healthy meal at home as you would driving to, and waiting at, a restaurant for expensive and less healthy options. Saving time and money while eating healthier? Sounds like a dream come true for all of us who work and want the best for our families.