Tips to Get a Healthy Dinner

If you think you don't have time to make dinner, think again. With these ideas, you'll be a professional at-home chef in no time.

Plan ahead.
Nothing has people reaching for the take out menu faster than a lack of planning. If you've been trying to plan dinner after 5 pm, odds are that you give up on cooking most days. Make sure to plan at least five meals each week and have the ingredients on hand. If you have enough food to make several different types of meals, you'll be less likely to eat out.

Each morning, decide what you'll make for dinner that night. At this time, you may decide to put any meat that needs to defrost in the refrigerator, and double check that you have all of the ingredients. Review the recipe and figure out when you'll need to start making dinner in order to have it done on time.

Come up with a system for dinner recipes.
Quick dinners are easy when you have a system to follow. Keep your dinners to an easy formula of protein plus carbohydrate plus vegetable and you'll be able to make dinner quickly. This formula can cover a wide range of possibilities: baked chicken, cheesy noodles and broccoli, grilled steak with peppers and onions served with tortillas, sauteed ground beef with Asian vegetables served over rice. The possibilities are endless!

Save time with frozen vegetables.
Everyone needs more vegetables and serving frozen vegetables are an easy way to get more into your family's diet. Keep a wide variety of frozen vegetables on hand. You can change the flavor with spices, margarine mixed with lemon juice or even Italian dressing. A few minutes in the microwave or on the stovetop with a vegetable steamer and you'll have vegetables for your meal.

Cook some ingredients ahead of time.
Ground beef can be used in many different recipes, from spaghetti to tacos. It takes just as much time to brown two pounds of beef as it does to brown a half a pound. On a weekend, brown and freeze several pounds of ground beef or ground turkey. This way, the next time you cook a recipe that calls for ground beef you'll just have to reheat it. You can do the same thing with chicken pieces.

Keep backups on hand.
Even the most well planned menu can come undone from time to time. When meetings run late or the family cook isn't feeling well, keep a few frozen meals on hand. Frozen lasagna, skillet meals and other pre-packaged foods are okay every once in a while. You can improve the nutrition of these processed meals by adding more vegetables and serving health side dishes.

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About The Author, Jamie Jefferson
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