Mamma, so much is on our plates and sometimes with our busy schedules it is hard to fit everything in. Making an elaborate, healthy dinner can be quite a chore sometimes. It is even harder when we are rushing home from work or helping our little ones with homework after school all the while trying to get a healthy meal on the table before bedtime. An easy and healthy meal would make the evening much easier…Am I right?!?!
My kids are not in school just yet, but I know from my friend’s moms how busy the evening can be when they are in school. In our home, we have pretty early bedtimes for our kids – so quick and healthy meals are important to me. On top of this, I have one dairy free kid and both are gluten free.
In light of the upcoming school year and for the moms who are also trying to make early bedtimes, I would like to share with you some of my favorite easy meals. All of the meals below are gluten free, can be dairy free and two are vegetarian. And as a bonus, all are pretty inexpensive.
Pardon my directions, I usually just make these on the fly with no recipes – I am putting the recipes into writing, just for you!:
5 Healthy and Easy Meals for Busy Evenings
My personal favorite and it’s super healthy! Makes about 6 meals. It’s on the more complicated side but you can make this in advance, even the night before, store it in the fridge and serve it cold. It is even better second day.
- 1 Chicken Breast
- 1 Cup of Quinoa
- ½ Yellow Pepper chopped
- ½ Orange Pepper chopped
- 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes halved
- 1 Cup Chick Peas
- 2 Cups Spinach Sliced
- Handful of Kalamata Olives halved
- 6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Dried Basil
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- Dash of Onion Powder
- Dash of Garlic Powder
- Feta Cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 and bake chicken breast (brush with Olive or Coconut Oil and a bit of salt and pepper) for 25-35 min until fully cooked
- Cook Quinoa according to directions, but its usually 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 min.
- Place Peppers, Tomatoes, Chick Peas, Kalamata Olives and Spinach into a large bowl.
- When quinoa is cooked, place in fridge to cool.
- Once chicken is cooked, slice into bite size pieces and add to the veggies.
- Make dressing: wisk together Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Dijon Mustard and Spices.
- Mix dressing into quinoa (once cooled)
- Add quinoa to veggie bowl.
- Serve in a bowl topped with feta cheese, if you choose
Veggie Primavera Saute
Serves about 4 (easy to add more of each ingredient for more people). You can also add chicken (baked and cut into bite size pieces for a non-vegetarian meal). Side note: this meal does not freeze well.
- 1 Large Zucchini cut into half-moon slices
- 1 Medium Yellow Squash cut into half-moon slices
- 1 14 oz Can of Stewed Tomatoes
- 1 Cup White Mushrooms
- ½ cup diced white onion (optional)
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Cup of uncooked rice (brown or white – up to you!)
- Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
- Cook Rice according to directions
- Heat olive oil on Medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes
- Add Zucchini, Squash, Mushrooms and Onions to the pan and saute until soft and tender in a large pan
- Add Stewed Tomatoes and heat till warm
- Serve warm over rice, but if you’re not in the mood for rice – serve over pasta!
Rice and Beans
Don’t knock it till you try it! You can’t get much less expensive than this meal, and it is so so good. My husband asks for this meal weekly. You can also add chicken too, just one breast will do. Serves about 4.
- 1 Can Black Beans rinsed
- 1 – 1/2 Large Yellow Onions sliced
- 1 Cup Rice (brown or white – up to you!)
- 2 Tbsp. Butter (you can use dairy free butter – or nix it and just use Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Dash of salt
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (optional)
- Cook rice according to directions.
- Heat a saute pan on Medium / Low heat. Add butter and Olive oil. Once warm add onions. To caramelize, cook moving the onions around every now and then until golden in color. When they are close to being done – add a dash of salt.
- Add rice, onions and beans to a bowl and serve. For a little extra for those OK with dairy – add a little shredded Mozzarella Cheese on top!
BBQ Pulled Pork
The best part is, it can cook while you are doing other things and it is crazy easy to make! It’s a slow cooker meal. Serves 4-6.
- 1 Large or 2 Small Pork Tenderloins (unseasoned)
- Your favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 Cup Rice (brown or white)
- Veggies of choice – Carrots or Green Beans
- Place Pork Tenderloin in slow cooker, cover with BBQ sauce and cook on low until internal temperature is 160 degrees.
- Cook rice according to directions
- Boil carrots or green beans
- When Pork is done cooking. Shred pork with 2 forks. Place back into slow cooker
- Serve in a bowl over rice and with your veggie of choice.
Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken
SOOO easy and SOOO good! Pop it in the slow cooker and it is done when you get home!
- About 2-3 Chicken Breasts, depending on how big they are
- 14 oz can of Diced Green Tomatoes w/ Green Chilies (mild)
- 14 oz can Black Beans
- 1 cup frozen Corn
- Cilantro (a good handful) – chopped
- 14 oz or 1 ¾ cups Chicken Broth
- 3 Scallions chopped
- 1 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
- Cayenne Pepper to taste
- Pinch of Salt
- Put the chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the slow cooker.
- Lay the chicken on top
- Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. BUT if you have a thermometer on your slow cooker then 165 degrees is the temp you are aiming for.
- Shred chicken with two forks. Place back into slow cooker and mix.
- Serve over rice or in tortillas.
- Top with your favorite toppings. Avocado is so yummy with this!
From my home to yours, I hope dinner is a bit easier with these meals. I hope that you get a little more quality time with the family after school and before bed and a lot less stress!