As a parent, I often look forward to the start of a new school year and the return to structure and routine that it brings. However, along with that come new commitments to music lessons, scouts, dance, sports teams, etc, creating busy days of carpooling and running from one practice to the next, leaving little time for quality, balanced weeknight meals. With three goals in mind – convenience, cost-effectiveness, and balanced nutrition – I’m sharing three kid-approved, fast, weeknight meal ideas. It’s not so much “cooking” as it is “heating and assembling ingredients,” so if you have time to go get takeout, you have time to do this at home!
Skinny Chicken Salad
Did you know you can purchase skinless, cooked, pulled chicken at the grocery deli? It’s true! And if you can’t find it, check the lunch meat and you can find bags such as Purdue Grilled and Ready pre-cooked, diced grilled chicken breast.Stir the following together and you’re done: 1lb chicken, 5oz fat free Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise, 3/4 cup sliced grapes, 2oz candied/glazed pecans, 1 tbsp poppy seeds, and if you have time, dice up some celery for extra crunch without the calories. Serve this with reduced-fat Wheat Thin crackers or over a bag of chopped romaine lettuce.
Southwestern Loaded Sweet Potato
Regular potatoes can be used here, too. Purchase the individually pre-wrapped, microwaveable potatoes to save from having to bake in the oven.Once potatoes are cooked, allow your family to assemble their loaded potatoes with the toppings of their choice: pre-cooked, chopped chicken (see source above), fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt, corn and black bean salsa, shredded low fat cheese, optional: cilantro and cumin for flavor. Done!
Ham and Cheese Quesadilla
Per serving, place 4 oz sliced deli ham, 1 slice low fat cheese (Colby jack, mozzarella or Swiss), 1 whole wheat tortilla wrap (I love FlatOut brang whole grain wraps and flatbreads). Place ham and cheese in the wrap and fold in half. Spray outsides with cooking spray and heat in skillet over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side until cheese is melted and wrap is slightly crispy on the outside. Serve with steam-in-bag frozen veggies, and you have a meal perfectly balanced with proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and packed with calcium, whole grains, and healthy veggies.
As always reach out to me with questions or for a sample lunch meal plan at firstname.lastname@example.org.