Quick & Healthy Meals for the Weekday Rush

Busy schedules and “on-the-go” lifestyles can make meal preparation feel like a chore. But, with a little bit of planning and a well-stocked kitchen, healthy meals can be just a few moments away.

Here are a few ideas that consider each meal of the day, for you, for the kids, and for everyone in the family.

Breakfasts of Champions

The first meal of the day is the perfect time to give everyone’s body a healthy “jump-start.” In general, aim for a solid dose of fiber and protein at breakfast, and choose low-fat, low-sugar options. These twelve breakfasts will help you get everyone’s day started on the right foot:

WeekdayRush1. Whole-grain toast topped with a slice of melted cheese, and a cup or piece of fresh fruit

2. Cooked oatmeal with skim or soy milk and a sliced banana

3. A cup of whole grain cereal topped with skim milk and a handful of blueberries

4. Breakfast parfait made with low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit and low fat granola

5. Whole-grain waffle (i.e., Kashi brand) topped with yogurt or applesauce, and a piece of veggie sausage (i.e., Boca or Morningstar brand)

6. Whole-wheat English muffin topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and piece of cheese and/or Canadian bacon, and a glass of vegetable juice

7. Whole-wheat toast spread with peanut or soynut butter and topped with sliced bananas or sprinkled with raisins

8. Whole-wheat bagel spread with low fat cream cheese, and a piece of fresh fruit

9. Whole-wheat pita stuffed with scrambled eggs and sprinkled with cheese

10. Breakfast smoothie made with one cup soy milk, ½ banana and a handful of frozen berries

11. Breakfast bar or granola bar and 8-ounce container low-fat yogurt

12. Diced apples or peaches mixed into low-fat cottage cheese, and a whole-wheat mini bagel

Balanced Lunches

When itcomes to eating well, it’s all about “balance”. For each meal, include foods from at least three food groups.

1. Start With a Fruit and Vegetable

Vegetables: Short-cut carrots, slicedpeppers, cherry tomatoes, fresh greens, vegetable juice, vegetables in stir-fry

Fruits: Banana, apple, mixed berries,dried fruit such as raisins or apricots, mandarin oranges, sliced melon

2. Add a Whole Grain

Whole wheat bread, bagel, pita or wrap,whole wheat pasta, brown rice

3. Choose Lean Protein & Dairy

Roasted turkey, canned tuna, beans/legumes, hummus, egg whites, hearty bean soup, tofu, sliced chicken breast, low-fat milk and yogurt,slice of cheese or reduced-fat string cheese, low-fat cottage cheese

Here are some easy, delicious examples:

  • Whole wheat pita bread and hummus served with a fresh green salad, a banana, and low-fat milk
  • Left-over whole wheat pasta made with marinara sauce and chopped veggies, topped with grated Parmesan cheese and served with low-fat milk or soy milk
  • Roasted turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread topped with greens and tomatoes, served with short-cut carrots and mixed berries
  • “Super salad” made with fresh spinach and topped with mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, a sprinkling of feta cheese, and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
  • Bean soup or lentil soup served with whole grain crackers, low-fat string cheese, and a piece of fresh fruit

Dinners on the Run

The dinner hour is often filled with activities and errands, making it difficult to prepare a traditional meal. But meals don’t have to be traditional to be healthful. By keeping a few key ingredients on-hand (see below for the list), you can make dinner in fifteen minutes or less. Here are ten great examples:

1. Pick up a roasted chicken from the market and serve with pre-washed mixed greens and a fruit salad

2. Turkey burgers or veggie burgers on whole wheat buns, served with baked “fries,” broccoli, and low-fat milk

3. Whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce mixed with left-over roasted chicken and a bag of frozen vegetables

4. Cheese ravioli mixed with a bag of frozen spinach and a canned of diced tomatoes, plus a green salad

5. Homemade pizza prepared from frozen pizza dough and topped with marinara sauce, low-moisture part-skim cheese, and an array of veggies

6. Mixed vegetable omelet, served with whole grain toast and low-fat milk

7. Quesadillas prepared with whole wheat tortillas, fat-free refried beans, a sprinkling of shredded cheese, and chopped fresh tomatoes. Serve with sliced peppers, a bowl of fruit, and low-fat milk

8. Stir-fry shrimp, chicken, or tofu with a bag of frozen vegetables and brown rice

9. Grilled or broiled salmon served with wild rice and asparagus

10. “Make-a-sub” with turkey breast slices, an array of fresh veggies, and a slice of provolone cheese on a whole wheat roll

Great Stock Ingredients

For easy-to-prepare dinners, keep your pantry and freezer well-stocked with items such as these:

  • Frozen seafood
  • Pre-cut veggies and fruits
  • Frozen veggies
  • Marinara sauce
  • Eggs
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Canned beans (garbanzo or black)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Frozen cheese ravioli
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals
  • Whole-wheat pasta and brown rice
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Shredded, reduced-fat cheeses
  • Whole wheat wraps or tortillas

With these tips, tricks, and suggestions, you’re ready for any weekday rush meal with quick, healthy, and delicious options for your whole family.

Anne Marie Kuchera, one of our Kids Plus Nutrition Consultants, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian.