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Quick, easy, whole food meals?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I know we've had a food thread already, but if I recall it was for frozen dinners. My mister and I would like to get into the habit of making healthy dinners NOW, so when baby comes, we're not trying to throw something else into the mix.

 

So, what are some of your favorite dinnertime meals?

post #2 of 16

For something quick and easy and whole food - you can't beat lentils.

I boil and then simmer mine in a vegetarian broth or beef broth (I love "Better than Boullion" brand) as a base and they are good that way as a side dish.

 

Takes 20-30 minutes start to finish and is healthy.

 

Stirfrys are quick, easy and whole food also --- if you preslice your veggies or buy them that way they are even quicker!

Use lots of onion and garlic and for the 'sauce' skip the shoyu sauce and use Braggs Amino Acids which is available at almost all health food stores...Really good, healthy and tasty - we prefer it over shoyu.

 

Thats an under 30 minutes meal even if you added chicken.

 

I'll think of more later :) Good thread

post #3 of 16

I'm not the cook of the household, but I am the one that makes turkey chili because it's so easy :)  Ground turkey, canned diced tomatoes, beans (I use a combo of black, pinto & kidney), diced onion, cumin, chili powder, olive oil and I add frozen corn at the end.  High in protein and yummy over rice or, the more comfort foody alternative, with mac & cheese.  Freezes well too!

post #4 of 16

i make tostadas every week. i bake corn tortillas in the oven and sautee onions & garlic in olive oil, then add cumin, salt and a can of black beans that i mash. then i cut up lettuce, tomato, avocado, onions, cilantro and cheese and a few lemon wedges. i make tacos pretty much the same way except i fry the tortilla in olive oil and i make black beans & rice instead of mashed black beans, or maybe boiled & lightly fried potatoes mixed with onions & garlic & cumin. but the tostadas are quicker & easy since there's very little actual cooking.

 

& i love making soups! i just made one with lentils that was SO GOOD. it was like, 1 onion sauteed in olive oil, + 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 t. salt, 3 cloves garlic, 5 c. broth, 1 1/2 c. lentils and 16 oz. coconut milk, brought to boil & simmered until lentils are soft, + in a small sauce pan i melted 3 tbls butter and then added 1 t curry powder and drizzled this over the soup when i served it.

 

& i make a chili sort of like mlovesj's, with black, pinto & kidney beans, but i sautee onion in olive oil first, then add garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano, cayenne and a bell pepper and chopped carrots, then the beans :) maybe a jalapeno but usually i just add that to my bowl only, my husband isn't as fond of super spicy as i am.

 

other regular menu items: chana masala, baked tofu & steamed brocoli w/ brown rice, pasta, pizza, enchiladas, black bean & cheese quesadillas (baked), stuffed bell peppers or tomatoes, etc etc.... (i'm a vegetarian (21 years!) but my husband isn't--he'll just make some chicken or whatever if he wants something). i got a new cookbook for xmas (super natural everyday) so i've been trying out some recipes this week, not sure yet if any of them will make it into heavy rotation (tho the lentil soup is from that book, and it is AMAZING).

post #5 of 16

Some of this is going to depend on your definition of "healthy".

 

But I will say that if you have the freezer space, pack it full of food now.  The stuff that takes longer to prep.  Even though I was back to cooking at 1 week pp with DS, having the stuff in the freezer meant I only had to do the prep work a few times a week (cooking from fresh), and could cook from frozen the rest.

 

We eat very differently summer time (when baby will arrive) and now, since we eat locally and seasonally.  Right now it's lots of roasted veggies, cruciferous or root vegetables, maybe an occasional salad, and bitter greens for veggies.  I try to limit cooking (an hour or more) to a few times a week, and we eat leftovers (or mixed-up leftovers) the rest of the week.  So earlier this week I made lamb ribs - braised in beer, and roasted parsnips/carrots.  We had a bowl of the veggies left, and half the ribs.  Then later in the week I made hamburgers and pan-fried potatoes.  Last night I still had half a pound of raw hamburger in the fridge ready-to-go, and a bowl of the potatoes.  I tossed the potatoes and the veggies into a skillet to warm up, cooked up the burgers and called it dinner, and it took less than 10 minutes.  I still have ribs in the fridge, and tonight I'll sautee some broccoli, pop the ribs in the oven to warm up, and call it dinner.  Again, 10 minutes work for dinner. 

 

The other thing I'll do is rather than spending time in the kitchen cooking, I'll plan something that'll take me 20-30 minutes to prep, then I can stick in the oven and walk away for hours.  This is really good to do when the LO is taking an afternoon nap.  Get dinner in the oven in 20 minutes (in the afternoon), and then ignore it until it's time.  Pot roast, pork roast, meatloaf, braised anything, etc.  A pan of root veggies or a few baked potatoes you add to the oven for the last hour, or a green salad rounds out the meal nicely. 

 

During the summer we eat more fresh veggies - meal salads are common when it's really hot.  I do my best not to turn on the oven when it's hot, since our house will hold the heat.  I'll cook up a pot of beans, freeze some, and pop the rest in the fridge, they're great for adding protein to salads, refrying for tacos/burritos, add some spices, some cheese and lots of fresh veg, and you have a taco salad.  We add meat (usually just ground beef cooked up with spices), but it's optional.  Chicken is another one that's great to keep in the fridge for eating cold - whether it's a whole roasted chicken, or boneless/skinless thighs you poached, do it your favorite/easiest way and pop them in the fridge.  Again, great for salads, burritos, sandwiches, chicken salad, whatever.  During the hot months, hummus is another great thing to have in the fridge, and it's WAY cheaper to make than buy (and super easy), eaten with plenty of fresh veg.  As are hard-cooked eggs, whether you eat them as is, turn them into deviled, egg salad or put them on top of a veggie salad.  Premade salads are also a great thing to have on hand - I make a kale salad that is excellent, and will easily keep a week, and makes a nice light lunch (topped with some nuts or seeds), just scoop and eat. 

 

I really like prepping a lot of food at once and then not having to think about it the rest of the week.  Breakfasts we either do crockpot oatmeal, which makes 5-6 meals, or I'll bake egg custards or egg muffins that we eat cold, or baked oatmeal.  All of them I'll do a week's worth at once and then it's grab and eat in the morning.  Lunches are much more about what's quick and easy - premade salads, precut cheese, boiled eggs, hummus, etc.  I don't want to have to cook lunch if I can help it, a sandwich is about the extent of the work I want to do (although I try to limit sandwiches).  Dinners are where I put my effort, and I still like to make a big batch of something that can be reused later in the week (a roast, beans, veggies, whatever). 

 

If this is all new to you, what I would suggest you do it sit down and make a list of your favorite meals (that you make).  Separate them into courses (main, veg, starch, etc.), and put the list on the fridge.  Add to it as you think of more.  Then work on meal planning.  Do a week at a time.  Which day do you do your shopping?  Sit down the night before and plan out the meals for the next 7 days.  Write up your meal plan and your shopping list at the same time, using your meal list.  Be sure to take into account your schedules (working late, late meetings, whatever might affect your time/energy), and plan a more "complex" meal for the day you'll have more time, and a more simple or leftover meal on the day you won't.  Maybe pick 3 or 4 meals for the week, and then see how you can mix/match the leftovers to make meals on the remaining days.  Once you've done it for a month or so it will become easier, and your list of meals will have grown to a decent level, so you're not feeling like you have to repeat them all the time.  I know some people do themes for every day (soup night, mexican night, salad night, leftovers night, etc.), that doesn't work for me, but if it does for you, go for it.  But if you get into these habits now, once baby arrives it will be so much easier to keep it going, and you can just assign some nights to freezer meals. 

post #6 of 16

there's an amazing cookbook i think i actually ordered through mothering called feeding the whole family. omg. really are some of the best, easiest recipes ever. i subscribe to traditional foodism, so we do mostly things from scratch. not exactly "quick." but there are a few. some non-tf foods i make that are whole foods are baked mac and cheese, tacos (my boys' fav night cos everyone makes their own tacos), meatloaf... we always eat lots and lots of raw fruits and veggies all day, every day for snacks and whatnot. its great to get into the habit before baby comes, especially if you and your dh will be sharing the cooking duties until then. that way he knows what you expect to eat when he is the only one cooking. :)

 

this is a good thread. can't wait to see what else people contribute!

post #7 of 16

I struggle with this because my husband doesn't eat much.  He is very picky.  Almost every recipe you guys mentioned wouldn't work with him because he doesn't like lentils or most veggies, he likes his chili with no beans only meat, etc.  It's really hard.  I struggle with what I will do when I am cooking dinner for our kid, I want him to grow up eating healthy foods like I want to eat but it's hard when my hubby only like "American" food like hamburger helper, hamburgers, very few pastas, etc.  I dunno what to do most of the time.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by janellody View Post

I struggle with this because my husband doesn't eat much.  He is very picky.  Almost every recipe you guys mentioned wouldn't work with him because he doesn't like lentils or most veggies, he likes his chili with no beans only meat, etc.  It's really hard.  I struggle with what I will do when I am cooking dinner for our kid, I want him to grow up eating healthy foods like I want to eat but it's hard when my hubby only like "American" food like hamburger helper, hamburgers, very few pastas, etc.  I dunno what to do most of the time.


I honestly think this is a conversation you need to have with your DH now, before baby arrives.  Putting it off until you're starting solids is liable to create it's own set of problems. 

 

But I will say that I don't make chili with beans unless I'm feeding other people, in our house it's all meat.  Lentils are a rarity, usually if we're eating Indian or Himalayan foods.  But my DH will eat veggies.  Honestly, maybe he needs to take a hand in meal planning, so that there will always be something on the table he will eat, but you don't feel like you're having to cater to his pickiness, and still setting a good example for the LO.  I would also try to explore how much of his pickiness is true dislike, and how much is an unwillingness to try new things.  Because those are two different things.  True dislike is not something I would fight, but I would push the issue with an unwillingness to try new things, because that is a very bad example to set the kids. 

post #9 of 16
For quick meals - I keep ground turkey on hand and always have a pack defrosted in the fridge. From that I do a lot - turkey tacos, turkey meatballs with red sauce (this is dd1's favorite meal since it's in bread and jam for francis smile.gif), thai-style ground turkey with oyster sauce, etc.
I also almost always have cooked quinoa in the fridge. I make big batches in the rice-cooker and throw it into meals throughout the week. For turkey tacos I add it to the cooked ground turkey (and use less meat this way). I kind of hate menu planning because it bores me. ;-) this drives my dh crazy. But I sort of compromise by trying to rotate the same or similar meals over a month.

The other night for dinner (it took about 35 min from start to serving) I put rice on in the rice cooker, cut up to small chicken breasts and cooked them, added some veggies (carrots, celery, potatoes, asparagus, onions), threw in some broth (I had veggie on hand, chicken would work too), curry paste I made from curry powder, crushed garlic, ground ginger, sriracha sauce and a bit of leftover marinara (like 1tbsp) and then finished it with half a can of coconut milk and 2 tbsp fish sauce (keeps forever and a good thing to have in the fridge). It was soooo good and fast and everyone in the family liked it.

Think about the foods and flavors you guys like and then experiment with ways to recreate those tastes in 30 minute meals.

Things I always have in my cupboard - crushed or whole canned tomatoes (my favorite is the bio nature brand), canned diced chilies, canned corn, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, fresh ginger, coconut milk, pasta, rice, quinoa...there's a lot you can do (and do quickly) with the right ingredients on hand.

I am a stay at home mom, but even still - I have found that if I don't either plan a weekly menu (see above - hate them) or plan dinner in the morning, I'll end up frazzled and rushed trying to get something on the table at night. A little forethought goes a long way to making fast, healthy dinners a totally attainable goal!
post #10 of 16

I know this might sound a little harsh, but my husband is the same way about a lot of foods and I have just started tricking him. For example, I made the trader joes cheese blintzes for him for breakfast one morning and he LOVED them! He ate 3 of them and went on about how great they were. When I revealed that they were actually dairy-free and that white stuff in the middle was tofu, he was like "EEWWWW I can't believe you served me that!"...but then he felt silly because he realized that he had actually really liked the tofu. My DH is very reluctant to try anything new and his response to anything unfamiliar is "I just know I won't like it". But if he doesn't know what it is...he usually like it. He picks chickpeas out of salad because "chickpeas are gross" but happily spreads hummus on pita. shrug.gif I think we may have already discussed the Sneaky Chef  -- I need to start cooking those recipes for our whole family! I could use some extra veggies myself these days! 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janellody View Post

I struggle with this because my husband doesn't eat much.  He is very picky.  Almost every recipe you guys mentioned wouldn't work with him because he doesn't like lentils or most veggies, he likes his chili with no beans only meat, etc.  It's really hard.  I struggle with what I will do when I am cooking dinner for our kid, I want him to grow up eating healthy foods like I want to eat but it's hard when my hubby only like "American" food like hamburger helper, hamburgers, very few pastas, etc.  I dunno what to do most of the time.



 

post #11 of 16

Janel- So if you put a dish with veggies in it, does he gag trying to eat it? Does he even try it? I know some people have serious food aversions, and even trying it can make them react (like, gagging and choking) and that's one thing. If he can eat it - like goes for dinner with someone he's trying to impress and can choke down the mushrooms he'd normally whine about- then it's a choice. I made a deal with my husband that I would prepare dinners IF he would eat them silently if he hated them (unless I asked for his honest opinion), and if the kids are around just take small portions and clean his plate. I don't wan the kids to learn pickiness from him (they are PLENTY good at it themselves!) and whining, "but I don't *like* that" at everything they put on their plates. If he couldn't choke it down and suffer silently then I refused to do any meal planning and he could do it all. Nothing like working on a meal just to have it rejected, I couldn't keep doing it.

 

There are a lot of things he claimed to hate- potatoes, squash, spiced rices, curries, brussel sprouts- that he now eats quite happily because I kept making them, sticking it in front of him, and watching him with a gimlet eye.

 

As for meal ideas... Sorry, I'm useless right now. Everything looks wrong and tastes off, nothing appeals to me but cookies and candy <shrug>

post #12 of 16

Thanks guys.  He WILL try things, which is good.  But he takes a bite and then gags.  I am not entirely sure if he would have gagged anyway or if it's cuz he has convinced himself he won't like it.  I dunno.  But he always says he will try things so I feel like he has a good attitude, but I just can't see this continuing while we have kids.. he just doesn't get all the healthy food in we will need.  I will have a talk with him, thanks for the help as usual. :)

post #13 of 16

I was thinking about this thread as I was making our (not so healthy) supper tonight. 

 

I was remembering that when we were switching from eating the standard American diet, to more healthier options, it was most helpful to take what we already liked, and make it healthier.  Our tastes have slowly evolved, but we do still mostly eat healthy versions of the stuff most people eat.  We've added a new vegetable here or there, or tried different methods of preparing things (like roasting or steaming).

 

For example, tonight was a cheater meal.  We were supposed to go to a potluck today, and I didn't feel like cooking for it yesterday.  So, I had grabbed a bag of frozen meatballs at the store.  (It was a looooooooooong night, and I wound up staying in my pjs most the day, and we didn't go). So, tonight, I threw the meatballs in a 9x13 dish, mixed equal amounts of chili sauce and red plum jelly, and baked it (covered) at 400 until hot.  Usually, I still would have done the chili sauce and red plum jelly (it's not a regular meal for us...a little sugar won't kill you. :)), but I would have made my meatballs.  Oatmeal, fresh eggs, chopped onion and green pepper from the farmer's market, maybe a tomato, and ground beef from a grass fed cow, maybe a little salt or fresh herbs.  I've been known to throw in a shredded zucchini that needed used, or something like that, too.  Roll it into balls, and bake them at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  (That also makes great meatloaf.)  So, the standard "crockpot of junk meatball recipe" actually is pretty good for you.  You can even bake them on a rack in a roaster to let the extra fat drain off better.  (And, if you are really ambitious, you can make your own sweet and sour sauce.)

 

Then, with the meatballs, instead of fries, we had potatoes cut into chunks (not peeled), with a little olive oil, garlic powder, and salt on them.  I also threw all that into a 9x13, and popped them in the oven beside the meatballs.  Then, I opened two cans of green beans and put those in a covered dish, and put that in the oven, too.  Everything baked for about an hour, while I folded laundry and played with the kids, and tada...supper.  No preservatives (if I had made my own meatballs, and extra veggies, too), low salt (no salt canned green beans), and potatoes with some good fat.  Some antioxidants if I had used crushed fresh garlic instead of garlic powder.

 

Oh, and little changes like garlic powder.  I always use garlic powder and salt, instead of garlic salt.  Garlic salt has stuff in it to make it free flowing, and also preservatives.  Garlic powder is just garlic.  I read all the ingredients very carefully of what I buy.  I do make some compromises, but I try to get everything to just be food, no preservatives, coloring, or modified anything.  After you get in the habit of it, it's really not hard to do.  Oh, I also try to avoid soy and added yeast.

 

Another example is yogurt.  Most people consider that a health food, but it really isn't.  Unless you buy totally plain cultured milk (and you really have to check the labels, even of the ones that say plain), you are getting preservatives and sugars.  When I buy it, I buy the one ingredient stuff, and throw in a T or so of powdered probiotics before the kids eat it.  (Makes it taste fruity).  If I have them, I might also throw in some frozen or fresh berries.  They LOVE it..and there is no sugar. 

 

Smoothies, done right, can taste almost like milkshakes,  I use 1c orange juice, 1 c milk or yogurt, 1 banana, a handful of spinach, and several cubes of ice.  SO good.  Again, I use the freshest, best grown stuff I can afford.  Fresh squeezed oj, etc.  Serve it in a colored glass, and he'll never know the spinach is there.  My kids think it's hilarious they can't taste it.  For a little extra healthiness, sometimes I add probiotics, and vitamin c powder.  (Gotta watch out for the vit c, though...it can taste salty and bitter).  Sometimes we have these for dessert.  In the beginning, I did add sugar, but we don't need that anymore.

 

If I had premade homemade meatballs in the freezer, the whole meal took about 10 minutes to put together.  :)

 

I also have made strawberry ice cream (needs to be fresh from a farm, and in season), using just strawberries and milk.  It was sooooooooooooooo good.  And totally healthy.  Some whole milk, especially from a farm, with a tiny bit of sugar home frozen is amazing, too. 

 

A funny thing happened to us, especially dh.  He doesn't care for the packaged stuff anymore.  He, who said it really didn't matter, can taste a difference, and would pick fresh over not any day now. :)

 

My point is, just be careful to start with really great ingredients, and whatever you wind up with will still be generally good for you.  You don't have to go way out on a limb, especially in the beginning, with lots of new tastes and textures.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

These meatballs sound SO good! I'm adding this to my list of recipes!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

 

For example, tonight was a cheater meal.  We were supposed to go to a potluck today, and I didn't feel like cooking for it yesterday.  So, I had grabbed a bag of frozen meatballs at the store.  (It was a looooooooooong night, and I wound up staying in my pjs most the day, and we didn't go). So, tonight, I threw the meatballs in a 9x13 dish, mixed equal amounts of chili sauce and red plum jelly, and baked it (covered) at 400 until hot.  Usually, I still would have done the chili sauce and red plum jelly (it's not a regular meal for us...a little sugar won't kill you. :)), but I would have made my meatballs.  Oatmeal, fresh eggs, chopped onion and green pepper from the farmer's market, maybe a tomato, and ground beef from a grass fed cow, maybe a little salt or fresh herbs.  I've been known to throw in a shredded zucchini that needed used, or something like that, too.  Roll it into balls, and bake them at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  (That also makes great meatloaf.)  So, the standard "crockpot of junk meatball recipe" actually is pretty good for you.  You can even bake them on a rack in a roaster to let the extra fat drain off better.  (And, if you are really ambitious, you can make your own sweet and sour sauce.)

 

post #15 of 16

:)

 

Here's a link for homemade cream of whatever soup.  You can use it to replace the condensed soups used in so many recipes.  The ingredients in the commerical version are horrid, but the homemade stuff...yum.   They say that you can freeze it, but I haven't found it to freeze well.  If I make a pot pie and freeze it, it's okay, but the texture sometimes get s little grainy.

 

http://tammysrecipes.com/homemade_cream_chicken_soup

 

And this is another recipe we love.  After I cook the chicken, and sweat the veggies, before I add broth, sometimes I take some out and put it in the freezer.  It becomes my base for the same soup another night, without all the work.

 

Boil a whole chicken with carrots, onions, celery, spices (just find a good recipe to make chicken stock).

 

Take out the chicken, and debone it.  Cut it into pieces.   You can put the broth through a strainer, and use it now, OR, you can put the bones, broth, and all the veggies in the crockpot on low overnight.  The broth will be richer and healthier.

 

(Or, you can use a precooked chicken from the store, and a box of chicken broth, but that obviously cuts down on the health factor).

 

Then, chop carrots, celery, onions, and garlic.  Put those and a little salt, and 2 bay leaves, oh, and thyme, in a bit of oil in a stock pot.  Put on a lid and sweat the veggies until tender.  Add chicken.

 

Then, pour in the broth, add water if you need more.  Bring to a boil, and throw in a handful or two of rice noodles, or rice.

 

Makes the best chicken noodle soup I have ever had.

 

(You can, like I said, do a lot of the prep ahead of time, so that this become a quick and easy meal.  I often do a whole bunch of veggies at once, and freeze them into soup portion sizes.  I cook the chicken, and freeze the meat and broth in baggies as well.)  The broth can be used for soups, or the condensed recipe I first linked.)

 

post #16 of 16

Simple things can be quick and good, the definition of whole food? Uh, I am not so good with:

 

Apple slices wrapped with turkey and cheese

Hummus takes 15 minutes to make with a food processor and is delicious with veggies or pita (home made pita bread is so good)

Tacos are always super simple and fast (with a food processor. Seriously, I wouldnt cook without mine. LOL)

Chef salads (if you have the ingredients ahead of time!)

 

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