5 Favorite Foods for Fast-Paced Families (Oh and They’re Healthy Too)

In In the Kitchen, Nutrition by stephanieauthementLeave a Comment

How hard is food to make at home? Does it take a long time to cook? Here are some foods that you may think is hard to make, but are super easy to make.

  1. SMOOTHIE

How hard is a smoothie to make? Doesn’t it take 10-15 minutes to make one? The answer to that is NO! If you can spare up to 5 minutes of your time, this is a great breakfast or snack. If you want to have a healthy breakfast option, check out my Mixed Berry Smoothie recipe. This takes at the most 5 minutes to make. Now let’s talk to basics on a smoothie. A good mixture has veggies, fruit, and milk/yogurt/protein of some kind, especially if you are going to eat it as a meal. So you don’t have to follow my recipe, but you can create your own. Get creative. What types of fruit do you like? You can add spinach to practically any smoothie and you won’t taste it. Spinach provides great nutrition for your body! One of my favorites is a strawberry/kiwi smoothie. While I have yet to find frozen kiwi, I’ll buy fresh and freeze them so that they don’t go bad. It is the perfect mixture of sweet and tart. You can throw any fruit in a smoothie and be satisfied. If you are allergic to milk, try the alternatives (i.e. almond, coconut, silk, cashew milk). This is perfect for those on-the-go moments where you need something quick and easy.

2. SALAD

Salads look time consuming and hard. If you think making a salad takes a lot of time, you are wrong! It takes 5-10 minutes (at the most) to make a really good salad. There are many different types of salads but I like to narrow it down to 2: fruit salad and traditional salad. Here is my recipe for a fruit salad: Berry & Feta Salad. Here is my recipe for a more traditional salad: 5 Minute Salad. So the basics of a traditional salad are lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, cheese, (meat if you like- I’d say grilled chicken), olives, peppers, and any other vegetables that you like. Restaurants makes salads look like works of art, so we buy them from a restaurant instead of making it at home when it is so easy to buy the ingredients at the store and make A LOT of salads. If you go to the store and see the romaine lettuce on the stalk and know that you don’t have the time to chop it, they have the bags of romaine lettuce already chopped up for you. The same goes for iceberg lettuce. Spinach comes in a bag or in a big box. I choose the big box because it is cheaper overall.

Let’s talk about tomatoes. It is time consuming to chop up tomatoes. I like to buy cherry tomatoes and just mix them in with my salads. It saves time while still getting what I want in my salad. Cucumbers aren’t necessary, but I take the minute to chop mine (it’ll take longer if you choose to peel them). You can buy the frozen grilled chicken and just microwave and put on top or you can grill it on the stove. You can buy cheese that is already shredded. Practically every item that you want in a salad can be bought already chopped, but it will cost a little extra. So, if you look at this, you are looking at 5 minutes to make a delicious salad. How can you beat that? You’ll wait 10 minutes in a drive through for a salad that could have been sitting there for days with moldy vegetables.

Fruit salads take a little longer because you have to chop the strawberries, but other than that it should take the same amount of time to make the salad.

3. BAKED CHICKEN/FISH/SEAFOOD

As a dietitian, I’m always telling my patients that they need to make the switch from fried foods to baked foods. Do you think that it takes longer to bake or fry food? In fact, it is quicker to put the food on a counter-top grill (think George Foreman grill) or stove top and cook it until it is done. It takes about 10-15 minutes to bake fish/seafood. It can take up to an hour for chicken to bake if you have a large chicken breast. If you have a large chicken breast, I recommend putting it on a George Foreman grill (or similar brand) and letting it cook. The reason that this is quick is because the heat is coming from both sides. This doesn’t need to be on a high heat because it’ll burn, but it does cut down the timing.

Can it really be quicker to bake something instead of fry? Let’s go through the process of frying food. You have to get your oil out and let it heat up. You also have to make a batter and flour mixture. Then you have to dip the meat into the batter and flour mixture before you can fry it. You also can only do this in small batches. So while one batch is done, you have to repeat this process over until you are done. This can take 20-30 minutes by itself or longer depending on what you are frying. You may also have to make more batter or add more flour. Think about this too, if you are even 10 minutes into frying a batch, your first batch is COLD at this point. There is the risk of food poisoning if your food stays at a cool temperature for too long. You will also use less dishes by baking instead of frying! Who doesn’t like cleaning less dishes?

4. HAMBURGER

I almost didn’t want to include this one on my post, but I felt like I needed to talk about hamburgers. We all eat out at some point. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t. In fact, I had a hamburger from Walk-On’s this weekend.  The point to this is that even I eat them; however, not from fast food restaurants. It doesn’t even take long to make a hamburger at your house with QUALITY ground meat that will taste amazing. The basics of a hamburger are ground meat (which I say you need to get 90/10 ground meat-the less fat the better), eggs, and breadcrumbs. You mix those three together (with whatever seasoning- salt/pepper) and you have a hamburger. That George Foreman grill comes in handy when you are making a hamburger at home because it cooks both the top and bottom at the same time. You can also cook it on your stove top. If you purchase your bread, lettuce, tomatoes, and ketchup from the store, you can whip up some hamburger for your whole family in 10 minutes. I’ve waited in a line at a fast-food restaurant longer then that at one point in my life. Also, you don’t have to worry about workers messing up your order. Pair this will a salad and you have a quick and easy dinner that you’re family will love. 😉

5. MACARONI & CHEESE

The notorious Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese is a staple in most people’s houses because kids love it. Heck, my kids LOVE macaroni. With all of the extra ingredients involved in that little box, I don’t make it or like it. It is much easier for me to cook it from scratch. Do you really believe that the yellow packet of cheese is good for you or for your kids? The answer to that should be NO. So the basics of macaroni and cheese are the same as the box, but you need real cheese instead of a packet of cheese. You need pasta that has been boiled (which you also have to do with the boxed macaroni), butter or margarine, milk (I choose skim), cheese, and salt/pepper to taste. SEE! The only difference between the box and the homemade is the REAL cheese. Can you imagine cooking macaroni and cheese from scratch in the same amount of time as the box with REAL food? I’ll be posting my recipe for macaroni and cheese sometime in the next week! Pair this will some fruit and a salad for the perfect meal for your family.

These are just 5 foods that are easy to make, but many think these are difficult to make. I like to make everything at my house because I know what I am getting is fresh and made the right way. It is also quicker for me to make these items at my house because I don’t have to place my order, wait in line, check out, and then leave. I also live about 30 minutes from the closest “decent” restaurant so that may be a motivating factor. But ultimately, it is also CHEAPER to make food at your house. A salad at a restaurant can cost you $10 for one and cost around $10 for 5-6 at home. That decision is easy for me to make. I have a family of 5 so I will always choose the cheapest way.

Let me know if you have any other food that you think is hard to make and I’ll try to post my recipe for it that way you can follow it!