Easy Healthy Dinner Ideas

by Stacy

How often do you eat at home? Restaurant portions are usually 3 times the size of what we should actually be eating and contain multiple times the daily recommendation for saturated fat and sodium limits. Most Americans get 80% of their sodium from packaged or restaurant food — the half-teaspoon of salt you add to a recipe isn’t the issue.

One of the easiest ways to take control of your food is to make it yourself. You control the portion size, the ingredients, and the additives. If you already cook at home, fantastic! Keep it up. If not, this can be a scary proposition. Below you’ll find some simple ideas to get you started, even if you don’t really cook.

Making Healthier Meals

mac n cheese with peas

Many people’s biggest challenge is time; they want a fast meal that’s easy to prepare. The meals they can prepare without thinking are spaghetti, mac and cheese, or frozen pizza. I call these “default meals.”

While they’re definitely fast and easy, they tend to be heavy on carbs but low on nutrients. You still need to make something, though, and you’re hungry and tired. What can you do?

Just adding one step can ramp up a starch-fest to a one-pot meal that actually has a healthy component. Starting from those three default meals:

  • Throw a huge handful of baby spinach into the pasta sauce when you heat it up. The spinach wilts in seconds and you just added a shot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to dinner. No prep required.
  • Try whole wheat pasta. If you tried it once and didn’t like it, try buying the same shape of pasta (spaghetti, linguine, rotini) in both “white” and wheat, then cook them together (start the longer-cooking type first, add the other after a minute or two) for half-and-half whole grain.
  • Stir frozen peas, chopped broccoli, diced red pepper, or other veggies into your macaroni and cheese. Get creative! Here’s a variation that takes the same amount of time as the blue box of mac and cheese.
  • Toss veggies on top of that frozen pizza! Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, diced eggplant, bell peppers, pretty much anything can go on pizza. My favorites are butternut squash or arugula!

Nothing scary, right? You can eat the same food, but by adding some vegetables it can be healthy and quick.

What are your default meals? How do you “upgrade” a meal to make it more healthy?
Leave a comment below or contact me!

Next up: Add some physical activity to your days without breaking a sweat!

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