You’ve had a long day and all you can think about is coming home to relax. Then you remember that everything that can pass as food is either rock solid in the freezer or at the store. You don’t want to wait for it to thaw, so you find yourself at the drive-through at a fast-food chain. You know there are some easy healthy meals that you can make in no time but for the moment, this seems easier.
This scene has happened to many of us at one time or another, especially when there is a family to feed. The problem is that many parents do this several times a week. Not only is it unhealthy but costs more money than a simple trip to the grocery store. Here are some meal ideas that you can make in a short amount of time without overexerting yourself:
- Many think of a quesadilla as being fattening – and most served at restaurants are, as they may use food products that are high in calories and fat. You can make your own, healthier quesadillas at home, though. Just add handfuls of shredded cheese that ooze out with every bite. Then top it off with two or more scoops of guacamole and sour cream. You don’t have to use a flour tortilla. Those made of corn or wheat will do just as great of a job, and they are not as high in carbs or calories. Instead of using a lot cheese, try adding one cup of chopped vegetables to one cup of cheese. Tasty fillings can be chopped onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, or mushrooms. Or you can add some canned refried beans, either inside or as a side dish. Reduced-fat cheese can be substituted for regular cheddar, or you can mix in a little skim mozzarella, since it has less oil than most cheeses. Salsa and pico de gallo have no fat, and there are so many varieties that will please almost any taste bud – from mild Anaheim chilies to smoky chipotle to spicy Habanero. If you want a creamy texture, mix in a tablespoon of plain or Greek yogurt.
- The casserole will always be a favorite with families because it is versatile. Preparing it is easy, and it always yields leftovers that can be enjoyed for days. Classic favorites like tuna casserole can be jazzed up by adding fresh herbs or dry Ranch dressing to the mix, using fusili or other fun-shaped pasta, and experimenting with toppings, such as crushed potato chips or fried onions. There are also ways to cut calories and fat such as using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, adding more vegetables such as shredded carrots or spinach, or trying a reduced-fat cheese.
- A restaurant favorite is the steak salad, but this is not always healthy. To put a healthier spin on this dish, go around the meat before cooking and trim excess fat. Then marinate or add a dry rub. You will not miss the extra ingredients some restaurants like to add because the flavor will be practically the same. By grilling or broiling (at 400 degrees for 25 minutes for well-done meat) in a drip pan, you will cut most of the remaining fat. While meat is cooking, chop your fresh vegetables. Leave behind the cheeses, creamy dressings, and bread, and try vinaigrette or low-fat dressing instead.
There you go! You can start preparing these easy meal recipes and help get your family off unhealthy fast food for good.
Guest Post by: Sean K