5 healthy meals that are awesome for busy parents
Attention to all those busy parents hustling and bustling around for their kids. There is a way to find meals that are healthy and satisfying while maintaining the crazy life of driving kids to and from friends houses, after school work, or sports.
I’ve heard it from clients before - when you work 8 hours at your career and then need to chauffeur your kids around in the evenings, it’s really hard to set time aside to cook a whole big meal.
What ends up happening is either ordering food out or picking on little things throughout the night without really having a full meal. Once this happens on a regular basis, you might feel your weight creeping up, your energy being drawn or just feel overwhelmed with trying to balance all of these aspects of parenthood.
This post is meant to give some quick meals that check all the health options of including a protein, vegetable, carb, and fat. Full meals like these will net you the most diverse nutrient base as well as keep you satisfied and filled so that you don’t need to rummage through the pantry at 9PM.
What are the rules to these meals?
Before diving into the 5 meals that we feel are awesome for busy parents, let’s set some ground rules up so you know exactly where we are coming from.
First, all these meals will require under 30 minutes of prep and/cook time. So any meals that require you to actively do something for under 30 minutes would suffice on this list. For example you will see a crock pot recipe on here that technically takes 4-8 hours to cook, yet the actual time needed to prepare this meal is under 30 minutes
Secondly, these meals will include protein, carbs, fat, and vegetables. If we are looking for a meal to be satisfying and healthy we need to include all the major components of a meal.
Lastly, these meals will only require either a crock pot, stove top use, oven use, and microwave use. To keep these meals most applicable for anything you might have, we’ll keep it to the basics with the addition of a crockpot.
The final side note to this list : I’m going to keep these meals strictly for dinner time meals. I know this is usually the toughest meal of the day for most!
Meal # 1 : Baking chicken, a 1 pan specialty
One of my all-time favorites here: this meal can be cooked together in one pan (or two if you have many mouths to feed!) This is a good one because once you prep and season up all your food, you can just pop this all into the oven together and let it do all the work for you as you attend to other matters.
Fat : Olive oil
How to make this meal:
Remember to take out chicken in the AM! (Can’t cook without the meat being ready!)
Cut up potatoes into small squares (You can use any potato...sweet, red, russet etc.)
Put into a bowl, add olive oil and season to taste
Place to side
Cut off bottoms about ½ inch
Drizzle olive oil, and season to taste
Put to side
Season chicken thighs (you can also use breasts for this meal, I’m a big fan of thighs!)
Add chicken, potatoes, and asparagus to a baking sheet and cook at 425 degrees.
Cook for about 30 minutes, making sure to check the asparagus isn’t overdone for your liking (you might like that extra crunch!)
Potatoes should be done around 25-30 minutes, chicken finished around 35-40 minutes!
Now the cooking time might go over the 30 minute mark, however your actual time actively prepping will only take about 15 minutes, then you let the oven do the work.
This meal isn’t groundbreaking, and probably is too simple for many of you expert chefs out there. However for a quick, mostly one pan meal...this one is a solid choice for both health and satiation factors!
Meal # 2 : Ground turkey Stir fry
This meal is really tasty and super simple. Ground turkey is a great, low fat meat that can combine well with an array of sides. I’ll give you the sides that we use the most!
Protein: Ground Turkey
Carb: Brown rice
Vegetable: Mixed Vegetables
Fat : Olive oil + Sharp cheddar cheese
How to make this meal:
Take out that ground turkey!
Place a bag of brown rice into boiling water (We love using the boil in a bag version, super simple!)
Let that cook until rice is soft (around 10-12 minutes once water has reached boiling point)
Put a bag of frozen mixed veggies into the microwave for 6-8 minutes (Another food we use often is frozen vegetables. Super quick, easy, and provides the same if not more nutritional punch as fresh veggies)
Set the cooking pan to medium - high, and plop the ground turkey into the pan.
Let turkey cook as you add the seasonings you like (We like to add in either some chili flavor, or cajun to give it a little extra spice)
Add olive oil or spray pan before turkey gets put into pan.
Cook for about 15 minutes making sure to break up and flip the turkey as it starts to brown on one side.
Once the turkey looks to be browned to your liking - add the vegetables and brown rice into the ground turkey pan.
Add some cheese on top if you’d like (We love getting some cheese on there!)
This meal is seriously quick. Yes you need to be a little more active since you need to boil some water as well as work the stove for the turkey, however that is child’s play for a seasoned veteran like you! (Or even for those who aren’t as cook savvy)
If you haven’t noticed yet - we are all about making things really simple. We STARTED cooking this meal after a long work day at 815PM, and are eating just after 8:30PM. We get a full meal that includes all the major components of a dish and enjoy it fully without the hassle of being in the kitchen for hours.
Meal #3 : Taco time!
Tacos are an awesome combination of flavors all held together by a wrap or shell. Not only can you make a meal that tastes 100% better than taco bell or other quick order options, you can create a meal that is a hit for the kids as well!
This meal packs a plethora of veggies which helps to keep you full for a longer period of time. No late night munchies after this meal!
For our tacos, with everything we keep this simple…
Protein: Ground Beef or Bison
Carb: Whole wheat tortilla wraps
Vegetable: Sautéed onions, peppers, cauliflower rice, and romaine lettuce
Fat : Olive oil, Mexican style cheese, and/or avocado
How to make this meal:
Take out that ground beef (can still defrost within about 5 hours if you forgot in the AM!)
Take out your tortilla, or whatever wrap you will use to keep the goodies together
Cut up onions and peppers
Take out romaine lettuce and cut if necessary
Take out a frozen bag of cauliflower rice and prepare to cook for 6-8 minutes in the microwave.
Set the cooking pan to medium - high, add a small bit of olive oil (just enough to cover the pan) and add beef
Season beef to taste (we like to use garlic, pepper, salt, and maybe some chili powder)
Add olive oil to the pan and place cut up onions and peppers.
Cook for about 10 minutes (We like to let the veggies sit for a good 5 minutes so they get a little browned before mixing it around)
Once veggies are done, push them to one side of the pan as you place beef into the pan.
When the beef starts cooking, start the microwave for your cauliflower rice.
IF you want avocado, it’s a great time to cut up a few slices while the beef is cooking.
Once the beef has reached your desired doneness level, mix the onions and peppers all together with the beef. (Takes about 8-10 minutes to cook the beef!)
Create your delish taco.
This is another meal that we’ve made at 8PM and were eating before 830PM. This is such an easy one, yet packs a ton of colorful vegetables. The magic of this meal is the fact that cauliflower is used instead of rice. If you are looking to stay satiated throughout the night, having more vegetables and less carbohydrates will reap your power of fiber!
Who knew that tacos could be so GOOD for you!
Meal #4 : Fish dish fun!
Fish is not only an excellent food source of healthy fats and protein - it also cooks really quickly!
One of our favorite fish dishes is super simple and super quick. Our favorite type of fish is Salmon, but you can substitute that out for any other fish that you enjoy.
Protein: Salmon, Cod, Flounder etc.
Vegetable: Peas, carrots, romaine lettuce
Fat : Olive oil or butter
How to make this meal:
Take out that fish! (fish also defrosts rather quickly, don't fret if you forgot to take it out at 6AM!)
We love using steamable bags, get that bag of quinoa ready to pop into the microwave!
Veggies are in the quinoa bag, but we like to add some romaine lettuce to the side to increase the amount of greens that are in this meal.
We use the cast-iron to cook Salmon and will set it on medium to high. We season the salmon with either Cajun, or we use a specific salmon seasoning.
Add olive oil or butter to the pan
Place salmon into a pan, letting it cook on either side for about 4 minutes. (Or until desired doneness, we like to have it a little softer on the inside!)
Microwave that bag of quinoa , add lettuce to your plate and boom - there you have it.
This meal can literally take you 15 minutes to make and it’s oh so good, and filling thanks to the quinoa and lettuce.
Again, nothing here that is ground-breaking but when you are in a tight spot or know that you don’t have a ton of time to cook - this option goes so quickly.
Meal#5 : Pork roast
Okay now we get to use that crock pot (Or an oven if you don’t have a crock pot!)
This meal is a set it and forget it type deal: great for those who want to do absolutely NO cooking in the evening time but still want to have a home cooked meal.
This you’ll need to remember and plan a little bit more ahead of time, taking out the meat the night before.
Protein: Pork shoulder
Vegetable: Carrots, onions, broccoli
How to make this meal:
Take out that pork the night before (this makes it ready to cook in the AM so that you can slow cook that bad boy all day while you are hard at work!)
Cutting up some potatoes does require some work, make sure to put the potatoes on the TOP of the pork when placing in the crock pot.
You can season these to taste, or just have the crock pot work it’s magic.
Cut onions into quarters (depending on size of crock pot) as well as carrots into smaller chopped pieces
Place these throughout the crock pot (I like to put them in between the potatoes and meat)
We like to season the pork with some brown sugar bourbon, or smokehouse maple seasonings.
For the crock pot, you can place pork fat side down or up, it doesn’t really matter. IF you are using an oven to slow cook this, you’ll want to put the fat part facing up.
Place all the goodies into the crock pot.
For crock pot, set dial to either low or high (low for 8 hours of cook time, high for 4 hours of cook time)
If you are using an oven, set to 250 degrees and cook 20 minutes for every pound of pork. (You might want to wait off on adding potatoes here, we don’t need burnt potatoes for dinner!)
Once dinner is ready to be served, you can up the veggie intake by heating up a bag of steamable broccoli!
When you enter the house in the afternoon/evening time be prepared to get the sweet smells of your food cooking all on its own.
Crock pot cooking can be the hero of family dinners for those parents who don’t have 30 minutes in the evening to put together a healthy meal.
Things to note about all the above
As you can see we love using steamable bags of veggies because they are so easy, and clutch when we don’t feel like making a big meal.
Rather than order out, and be at the mercy of how restaurants cook their food - we can both save money and time by using smart options like these steamable bags!
Using just 1 bag might not be enough if you have growing boys and girls who need more food! I would just suggest using 2 bags of steamable bags if you find that there isn’t enough food. Quite simple stuff though, you just need to add an extra 6-8 minutes per bag in the microwave.
This post today wasn’t meant to be a full on step by step guide to making 5 recipes but instead a dive into the quick meals that we enjoy here, that are yummy and well rounded meals.
It’s all about consistency
When you give yourself options to fall back on during those busy nights, you enable yourself the best opportunity to be the best version of yourself. What I mean is this : having go-to quick options is necessary in our overworked, over stressed and overwhelmed adult work force.
Yes it’s “easier” to just order something from a restaurant and have it delivered to your door. Yes it might be a pain to even find 30 minutes to make some of these meals at night.
However if you decide to make a change and to start cooking more meals, using these options will surely keep you in line with your goals.
The more you can rely on solid dinner meals each night, the more familiar and easy cooking with limited time becomes.
And yes, I know that these meals aren’t something that Gordan Ramsey would cheer for. I know there are more advanced techniques, and variety of foods. Not everyone enjoys steamed veggies, I get it!.. Just recognize that it might take more time from you to chop up and cook everything from scratch.
The easier you make eating full, healthy meals...the more likely you’ll continue to do so for the long term.
And that’s what we are all about here at Forever Fit Method...making things simple, repeatable, and sustainable for the long-term.
I hope that you find some inspiration to try some of these, and find that cooking a full healthy meal doesn’t have to be as complicated as you have previously thought!