People are always asking me for tips on how to make quick and healthy meals for their families. They just don’t have the time. By the time they get off work, pick up the kids, eek through traffic and finally get home, the last thing they want to do is spend an hour getting dinner on the table. I get it. So, here are 5 must haves in your fridge to make meal time much more manageable.
On Sunday night once my kids have gone to sleep, I start to make a loose map of meals for the week and make sure that I have some things cooked and on hand in the fridge to make meal time easier. By washing, prepping and cooking things on Sunday, I find that my week nights are much more manageable.
1. Baked Sweet Potatoes/Russet Potatoes: We love potatoes at our house, especially sweet potatoes. I usually bake up 6-8 big potatoes (roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes depending on how big) at the beginning of the week. I store them in my glass tupperware and they are ready to go. Sometimes we make baked potato night with all the fixins’ or sometimes I’ll dice up the sweet potato and make a quick hash. You can also slice them up, toss in a little olive oil and herbs and through under the broiler for some quick fries. Potatoes are also great taco fillings. Saute with some taco seasoning and stuff inside a crispy taco shell. Potatoes are actually quite nutrient-dense, help keep your sugar levels steady and leave you feeling full.
2. Rinsed Greens: I always, always, always have my salad spinner in my fridge full of greens; red leaf, kale, spinach-whatever. It may not sound like much, but having greens ready to go is one of my best practices. It doesn’t seem like much, but rinsing and sorting through a bunch of spinach can be really time consuming, especially if it just came from the ground. With ready-to-go greens, you can make a quick salad, saute up some greens and garlic or make a smoothie. We all need to make sure we’re getting our greens and making them accessible is one of the best ways to make it easy to do so.
3. Cooked Brown Rice/Quinoa: This is a must! I try to cook up a bunch of brown rice at the beginning of the week and just keep it in the rice cooker bowl in the fridge. Brown rice can take 40 minutes to cook and even quinoa can take 20 so having this already done is a huge life saver. You can do a quick fried rice with veggies and tofu or saute it up with your “pre-cleaned” greens and sweet potatoes! You can even sprinkle it on top of your salad for a heartier meal.
4. Cooked Lentils: We love lentils in our house and substitute them for pretty much everything but they can take awhile to cook. Having them cooked and ready to go will cut out a lot of prep time. You can use them in a bolognese sauce, taco filling or sloppy joes. You could also saute them with your cooked rice. Lentils are so filling and are rich in protein, folate and iron. They may be the healthiest food out there!
5. Ready-Made Sauce: Ok, here is where we can tie all of these things together; with a sauce. I always have a vegan cheese sauce and tahini dressing ready to go to top off salads or rice bowls. But use whatever is your favorite; terriyaki sauce, hot sauce, hoisin-whatever you and your family likes best. And if you don’t want to make it yourself, take a little help from the store and keep your favorite topping in your fridge. A good sauce always ties the meal together so pick out your favorite and keep it on hand.
I hope this little list helped. What are some of your favorite things to have on hand?