I don't know about you, but the last few weeks have been full of fun, but busy activities. This last weekend, while my husband studied for some of his finals, my 5-year-old, 1-year-old and I spent a few hours at the mall picking out presents. I've also spent a significant amount of time researching low-toxic toys for my children, finding good prices on certain items I want to buy for gifts, and making a few homemade items.
While we don't go overboard with money spent on presents, we certainly love to show our love with gifts in this little family. I love this time of year, but with the extra time devoted to research and shopping, it's been harder to keep on track with healthy dinners. I thought it might be the same for some of you, so I've put together some of my personal tips for keeping healthy dinners on the table — even when busy. I'd love to hear your tips and thoughts in the comment section!
Keep dinner simple
When busy, I especially like to keep things simple. A side of brown rice, a simple veggie side, and roasted chicken legs, or a simple slow-roasted salmon filet is very nutritious, but actually quite simple. We also have breakfast-for-dinner meals, like scrambled eggs and whole grain toast, French toast (made with whole grain bread) served with pure maple syrup and pasture butter, or smoothies with added protein from ground seeds or nut-butter toast or eggs on the side. Another easy dinner is making a large green salad plumped up with lots of protein (like hard-boiled egg, nuts or seeds, leftover shredded meats) and a pre-made homemade dressing. We serve this with butter on toast. This unusual cabbage recipe
is a family favorite when served with rice and soy sauce. Simple dinners are definitely good this time of year!
Roast it all together
Another excellent yet simple way to prepare dinner is roasting everything together in a hot oven. Take some sausages and chicken legs and add some chopped vegetables. Coat it all in oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes. The roasting brings out the flavor of all of the individual ingredients, and roasting them together allows the flavors to mingle. One example is my Roasted Meat and Vegetable recipe.
Keep pre-made food in-stock
If I have homemade chicken broth
in the refrigerator or freezer, pre-made whole grains or whole grain bread, basic vegetables and leftover shredded meat, dinner is only a few minutes away. I can use leftover rice, some veggies, and eggs to make a basic fried rice. I can use the chicken broth to make a simple chicken noodle soup. Whole grain bread and a high quality cheese make a great grilled cheese, or a tuna melt is lovely, too. Canned tuna and salmon (in BPA-free cans) are a boon to the busy cook!
Utilize the slow cooker
Using a slow cooker (Crock-Pot) is one of the obvious things to do — yet so often I don't! I love coming home from a busy day out and about to a warm and already cooked meal. It takes just a few minutes to throw together a slow cooker meal, and you are amply rewarded for the time spent when you return to a meal already made. One of our favorite slow cooker recipes is Quinoa and Chicken.
I also like to make beef stew in the slow cooker.
Healthy dinners don't have to go out the window during this busy Christmas season. With a little stocking up on certain items and forethought, you can have delicious dinners on the table, too.
Those are a few of my tips. I'd love to hear your ideas, too!