We all have those days, there’s no denying it. We’re tired and the thought of slaving in the kitchen preparing a home-cooked meal is just outright blasphemous. We love our kids, but as parents we go non-stop all day.
Whether you got stuck at work later, sat in rush hour traffic, or just had a rough day, sometimes we just cannot muster up any extra energy once we get home. Over the years, I have discovered dinners that my daughter absolutely loves that take minimal time to make, and she loves them because I get creative in how I serve it.
Here is my short list of dinner cheat meals, that include healthier options so you don’t suffer from guilt over the sugar or fat content in the foods.
These are easy and you often have all of the ingredients on hand; peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, veggies, etc.
Well that’s easy and all in the name. You can mix it up by adding sliced bananas or strawberries instead of jelly, or even raw honey. Substitute regular peanut butter for organic or natural peanut butter, or vegan PB; these generally have much less sugar and carbs.
Mix it up with different types of cheese, or add a slice of tomato! Is your child not afraid to try new things? Spread goat cheese and cucumber slices for a healthy sandwich. Ready to get awesome??? Try adding cooked spinach with garlic and pesto for some serious flare!
Turkey and cheese (or any variation of meat or meat substitute)
Add raspberry sauce for a little sweet surprise. Vegetarian or vegan? Try your leftover cooked or grilled veggies on a pita with almond cheese.
***To really mix it up, I do all of these options on a flour or corn tortilla as well and pop it in a sandwich press. My daughter LOVES this the best and we call these “fancy quesadillas.” Her go-to is any tomato-based pasta sauce and shredded cheese, her infamous pizza quesadilla!
Pasta (of any sort)
This is just easy, and we opt generally for whole grain protein pasta or gluten-free corn based pastas. This is easy because pastas come in so many varieties, from shells to rice noodles.
With this you can throw together a quick spaghetti, or cook any pasta and just add sauce. Basil pesto is our favorite, and if you need a little more heartiness to it, have a pre-cooked meat on hand (such as pre-cooked sausages of any variety) that can be quickly heated up and mixed in. We also opt for leftover grilled veggies that can be diced up and mixed in.
Breakfast for dinner
By far a favorite in our house. This can vary from biscuits and gravy, to cereal, or just toast and eggs with some fresh fruit. The possibilities are endless here and prep time is generally just a few minutes.
This is usually a last resort for lazy dinner nights if any of the above cannot be done. But as a parent, it’s never a bad idea to have a mini frozen pizza or something quick on hand. I’ve found that the Amy’s brand serves both vegetarian and vegan menu items with a great high protein content. This way if I do it, I don’t feel bad about it.
Any of the items I listed above I generally pair with fruits, yogurt, smoothies or crackers with hummus, and this is just a small portion of our family lazy dinners when we just aren’t in the mood to cook.
So embrace it and find a fun way to serve it up and mix it up, I promise the kids will love it. Bon appetit!