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Quick healthy dinners

Quick healthy dinners
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Even those who love to cook can sometimes find it a bind to rustle up a healthy meal for the family. To avoid falling into the fast-food and ready-meal trap it’s vital to have an approach to mealtimes that makes shopping simple and preparation and cooking a breeze. A decent stock of varied, enticing recipes helps too. Here are some top tips to help get quick healthy dinners on your table.

Plan your meals

Every week before you shop, make a list of meals that you will make each day and the ingredients you need for them. This has the double benefit of keeping the cost of your weekly shop down (by helping you to avoid impulse purchases), and removing the daily stress of thinking about what to cook and whether you have the right ingredients in stock.

Keep it varied

As you make your meal list, take inspiration from recipe books, cooking programmes and online sites. Include meals you know are crowd-pleasers and ones that are simple and quick to make, along with the odd new recipe to keep you and your feasters interested.

Double-up on portions

If a meal you are making lends itself to being frozen, then make twice as much as you need and freeze the rest. You will soon build up a stock of instant home-made-and-healthy ready-meals that are ideal for busy evenings.

Delegate tasks

If your schedule allows for it, then sharing kitchen jobs can be a great way to create family time where everyone works together. Kids and partners alike can pull together and help prepare ingredients, stir sauces, lay the table and of course, load the dishwasher or wash-up.

Embrace soup culture

Quick healthy dinnersA store of homemade stock in the freezer offers the opportunity for a quick and healthy soup. Make a habit of boiling chicken bones after a roast and keep the stock. Adding a range of chopped veg and/or beans, chickpeas and other legumes creates a quick and hearty meal when served with crusty bread and a green salad.

Slow Cook heaven

Rouse yourself a little earlier one morning and take the extra time to bung some meat, veg and sauce into a slow cooker. It will do the hard work while you’re out and about and there is nothing quite like returning home of an evening to the delicious aroma of a warming stew. Eat as a soup, pop a jacket potato in the oven or boil up some rice as an accompaniment.

Use your leftovers

I’m constantly amazed by how much food people throw away these days. Leftovers from one night’s meal can often work well as a lunch the next day or if there is enough left, contribute to another meal the following night. Chicken leftover from a roast can be delicious in fajitas or a risotto. Cold roasted veg can turn a steak sandwich into a special meal. Spare mash potato can combine with tuna for tasty fritters. And leftover curry can be saved for a day or two and served as a side dish to another Indian meal. Use your imagination

Don’t forget the Eggs

These are such a versatile food, packed with protein, quick to cook, and relatively low in calories. It takes only minutes to whip up an omelette and if you fill it with veg instead of cheese you can quickly turn it into a decent balanced meal. Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon is another lovely dish – serve with spinach for a smug-health halo that will last all night.

Get creative with your chips

Oven chips are a godsend on bad days, but oven roasted potatoes are so quick and easy to make it’s always worth keeping them in mind as an alternative. Simply chop your spuds into 2cm cubes and place on a baking tray covered with grease-proof paper. They don’t even need peeling. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper before drizzling with a very small amount of olive oil. Toss well to coat the cubes, then bake at Gas 8 or 220C for 30-35 mins. These are so versatile they can work with fish, meat, or burgers. My kids love ’em.

Create your own tomato sauce

I have a simple tomato sauce recipe that works as a basis for about ten different meals. I make in a big batch and freeze portions for us and the kids. It works brilliantly as a topping for pizzas, mixed with pasta in a variety of forms or as a sauce in its own right in which to bake meatballs, fish or chicken. There are many simple variations on this theme online. Find a sauce that you like and cook up a vat of it today. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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