Dinnertime is a dreaded hour in most households, especially those where children dwell. You’ve made it a solid 12 hours of full time work, either in or out of the home, and you’ve got your eye on the prize: couch, Netflix, wine.
Not so fast. First, you need to feed your little. You’re probably thinking, “Again? Didn’t they just eat breakfast, lunch, and like 700 snacks today?” The answer is yes. Those bottomless pits we call children need to eat — again. We all know it’s not so easy to just get dinner together and on the table. There’s the planning, the shopping in, and actually cooking — a list of tasks that seems virtually impossible when you’re running on empty from the day.
Nights leave very little time to whip up a meal that your kids won’t throw on the floor, making that box of macaroni and cheese shine like a sparkly star from inside your pantry (if you buy Annie’s Organic at Whole Foods, it’s healthy – right!?) While I’m all about the box of mac and cheese on occasion, there’s an art to quick, easy meal prep. Here are five dinners you can actually make in five minutes.
1. Clean Turkey Burgers
Surprisingly, skillet burgers cook up in just minutes. Thaw a plain turkey burger or grab a pre-made fresh one from your local butcher. Make sure the patty is no more than ½ inch thin for a quick cook-time. Heat a skillet or grill pan over high heat. Cook burger on each side for 2-3 minutes. While the burger cooks, make a side of corn and black bean salad by mixing ½ can of black beans with ½ can of corn. Stir in one tablespoon of cilantro, minimal salt and pepper. If your child is under one, omit the salt. Serve with a whole wheat bun, or bun-less, which is the way we do it in our house.
Pro-Tip: Have leftover cheese? Throw it on the burger. Leftover avocado? Chop it into the salad. Skip the ketchup as most brands add in loads of extra sugar.
2. Zoodle Bowl
Most groceries stores sell pre-spiralized zucchini, making this meal so quick and easy. If yours doesn’t, spiralizing a zucchini takes approximately 30 seconds, so you can still bang this one out in less than 5 minutes. Once your zucchini is spiralized, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Top with your favorite tomato sauce or pesto.
Pro-tip: If your child isn’t a fan of zucchini, try butternut squash or sweet potato instead!
3. Sweet Potato Fritters
Sounds intimidating, but it’s not. Shred one sweet potato and mix with 1 egg, ¼ cup of whole-wheat flour and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Dollop ¼ cup of mixture onto skillet. Cook 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Serve with a dollop of plain, whole milk yogurt.
Pro-tip: Swap out the sweet potatoes for zucchini, carrots, or a mix of all three. These save well in the fridge for up to a week, so if you have some extra time, cook a whole batch for leftovers.
4. Pita Pizzas
Top your favorite whole-wheat pita with 1-2 tablespoons of clean tomato sauce (check those labels for no added sugar and minimal ingredients). Sprinkle with organic mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Italian herbs. Place on a sheet pan and broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is bubbly. While pizzas bake, steam your kid’s favorite veggie in the microwave while these cook up and serve alongside. We like broccoli!
Pro-tip: Have leftover veggies at home? Chop them up and throw some on your pizzas as well for added nutrition.
5. Sautéed Lemon Shrimp
Purchase peeled and deveined raw shrimp. Fresh or frozen (thawed) will work. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon and 1 teaspoon of fresh dill. Add in minimal salt and pepper and your shrimp. Let stand for 1 minute while you heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook shrimp 1-2 minutes per side, until pink throughout. While shrimp cook, microwave pre-made frozen brown rice or quinoa for serving.
What are some of your favorite weeknight meals for you family? Tell us in the comments.