Easy Weekday Meals for Busy Families
I’ll admit, healthy eating and meal prep are not my favorite things …
Unfortunately, they also go hand-in-hand. Working full-time has forced me to meal prep on the weekends if I want any sort of real food during the week. I not only have to prep nightly dinners, but also the lunches I take with me to work.
When you commit to living a healthier lifestyle, meal prep is a great way to stay on track. In general, doing so helps me make healthier choices for myself and my family. If you typically go out to eat or get take-out, you are more likely to eat something that is not the healthiest. Prepping meals is great for making healthy choices and also for portion control.
Sundays are my day to get organized for the week. I’ll be honest – I do not look forward to them! Shopping and washing and chopping and measuring and… However, it’s a necessary evil and makes life easier in the long run. For my weekly lunches, I usually make a large batch of something and portion it out for the whole week in Tupperware containers. When prepping for family dinners, I typically prepare two to three complete meals; plan one night doing breakfast for dinner and then usually also have enough leftovers for one night. Sometimes, I’ll make a double batch of a meal that’s easy to freeze for future use. Having meals on hand in the freezer is a huge time saver.
When looking for easy meals to prepare or freeze, there are several places I look. Pinterest has become my best “meal idea” friend and Innovative Health & Fitness has its own Pinterest page with lots of healthy recipes! A few of my favorite healthy recipe websites also include:
www.eatingwell.com | www.skinnytaste.com | www.hungry-girl.com | www.cookinglight.com | www.realhealthyrecipes.com
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are a few of my favorite go-to, weeknight recipes that are popular with my family:
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
With this recipe, I fill up muffin tins with the ingredients and freeze them. These work great for easy lunches because I can pop out the individual meatloaf muffins, throw them in a container and simply reheat them as needed.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 lbs organic ground turkey
- 1 cup natural ketchup (no sugar or corn syrup)
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly grease a small casserole pan with olive oil.
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onions, and peppers. Sauté them until they’re soft (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly.
- Add the spices, tomato paste, eggs, and turkey. Mix well, then transfer to the prepared pan, shaping into a loaf. Pour ketchup evenly over the top of loaf. Bake for 90 minutes and until it’s no longer pink in the center.
Slow Cooker Buttternut Squash Soup
I like this one because it is really easy to make, easy to double and can be frozen.
- 16 oz (1/2 small) butternut squash, halved, seeds removed
- 16 oz (1/2) buttercup or kobacha squash, halved, seeds removed but not peeled
- 2 large shallots, quartered
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or 1-1/2 tbsp Better Bouillon w/water)
- 3/4 cup light coconut milk
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Optional garnishes: coconut milk drizzled, chives, pepitas
- Place squash, shallots and broth in slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, until soft and cooked through. A knife should easily be inserted.
- Remove squash from skin and discard the peel.
- Stir in coconut milk and nutmeg.
- Blend in a blender or using an immersion blender.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with more coconut milk and chives, if desired.
Lemon Chicken and Asparagus Foil Packs
This is a super easy 30 minute meal you can grill or bake.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to even thickness, or 6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large bundle of asparagus spears (about 1 pound)
- 1 lemons, divided
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- Lay four 12×12 inch squares of foil out on a flat surface. Place one chicken breast (or 1-2 thighs) in the middle of each piece of foil.
- Trim the flat end of the asparagus at 1-2 inches from the end and discard. Cut the remaining spears in half and divided them between the foil packs.
- Thinly slice one of the lemons and divide the slices between the foil packs, tucking the slices in, around and between the chicken and asparagus.