The Food Marketing Institute promotes September as Family Meals Month and uses it to remind us of the importance of gathering family around the table to connect, chat and enjoy a nutritious meal. But, let’s be honest, September is also all about busy evenings, trying to grasp a new, demanding school schedule, and realizing that you only thought you were done back-to-school shopping. So how can we manage all that and still get dinner on the table every night? It starts with choosing a protein that will carry you through for a few meals. It ends with you not cooking every day.
Choose a protein and make a plan.
Lean Ground Turkey
Day one: Enjoy the chili “as is,” topped with cheddar.
Day two: Prepare Stuffed Peppers. Bake potatoes at the same time while the oven is on.
Day three: Top baked potatoes with leftover chili or serve leftover peppers.
Prepare Mediterranean Chicken Bake along with a baking sheet of butternut squash and onions to make Baked Roasted Squash, Ricotta & Pasta. (Note: When preparing the chicken, slice and store additional fresh veggies for another meal.)
Day one: Serve baked chicken dish.
Day two: Use roasted vegetables to finish the baked pasta casserole.
Day three: Shred or slice remaining chicken for a quick Greek-inspired salad (use previously chopped veggies) to enjoy at home or bring it “to go” on a busy night. Alternatively, serve leftover pasta.
Slow cooked meals are ideal for a very busy week. Even better is a slow cooked pork butt that makes delicious Carnitas today and quick and easy meals tomorrow.
Day one: Sauté bell peppers and onion and use pork to create fajitas. Prepare a large batch of this Black Bean and Bell Pepper Salsa for a quick, fresh side.
Day two: Use remaining meat to make cheese quesadillas. Serve alongside a dollop of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt and black bean salsa.
Day three: Pick up a whole grain flatbread. Top flatbread with leftover onions and peppers, a cup of shredded cheese, diced avocados, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and leftover salsa (if there is any!) for a southwest-inspired pizza.
Think Outside the Butcher Box
Even proteins like tofu and fish can be used for more than one meal. Try these recipes on a busy week:
Day one: Prepare Teriyaki Tofu Salad. Make more than you need for one night.
Day two: Cook brown rice and use leftover ingredients to create an Asian-inspired rice bowl. Lightly drizzle with soy sauce and a bit of fresh ginger.
Day one: Grill fish and serve along side rice and cooked veggies or prepare this recipe for Sea Bass en Papillote.
Day two: Use bagged broccoli slaw, a flavorful salad dressing, leftover fish, and whole grain tortillas to make easy fish tacos. Serve with whole grain corn chips and fresh salsa.