As a busy parent, I still want to make sure I’m making healthy meals for me and my family with fewer ingredients. Does that always happen? No. When I haven’t prepped my meals and I don’t have an easy meal to quickly prepare, I tend to order takeout or go with a less healthy convenience option. I’m okay with that sometimes in the name of balance (and sanity!). To limit those moments, I’ve used these hacks to help me on days when I’m less prepared. Not only are these food options a healthier alternative to takeout, but many are also simple and budget friendly.
For meals you can prep and freeze, see 10 Healthy & Easy Freezer Meals to Prep Before Baby.
Healthy Meals – Foods To Keep On-Hand:
- Make ahead taco mix – This taco seasoning from Rubies and Radishes is my favorite, and I typically have all these spices on hand. We usually have ground turkey, spinach, peppers, and beans on hand to make a quick taco salad. It can also be used for shredded chicken or pork.
- Dressings & Marinades – Some of our favorite brands are Primal Kitchen, Tessemae’s (avocado ranch is delish!), Sir Kensington’s, and Yai’s Thai almond sauce. These are great to tie together a quick salad, or to marinate a meat to throw together with some veggies. Whether you marinate the meat overnight or for 30 minutes, it’s usually flavorful! We love to use these mixes in the summer for grilling.
- Curry Sauce – Pre-made sauces can easily tie together ingredients. For something different than our usual, we use Yai’s Thai curry (yellow curry is our favorite!) added to chicken and frozen/fresh veggies with rice/rice noodles/cauliflower rice. It’s so versatile, yet fairly easy.
- Pasta Sauce – We also have at least one container of pasta sauce in stock. Our go-to meal is spaghetti squash (takes 10 minutes or less to make in an instant pot), peppers, chicken sausage, and tomato basil pasta sauce. There are so many other pairings with a protein, veggie, and a base (zoodles, noodles, or chickpea pasta).
- Canned Protein – Whether chicken or tuna I’m not always the biggest fan of canned protein, but it’ll do in a pinch! I am a little picky with the type I buy. We typically buy Wild Planet Foods tuna from Costco. Our go-to meal we make with tuna is a cold pasta salad. We use Banza pasta, Sir Kenzington’s avocado mayo, celery, and seasoning (salt, pepper, dill). Ryan likes to add Trader Joe’s whole grain mustard to his for a little “pizazz” and less fishy taste.
- Brinner – This is probably not news to you, but breakfast for dinner is a budget-friendly, easy option. Most of the time we have eggs, some kind of breakfast meat, and veggies in our fridge. Oatmeal and pancake mix are also a staple in our home. I often add collagen, blueberries, flax seed, chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and almond butter to my oatmeal and sometimes my pancake mix to make it more hearty.
- Rotisserie Chicken – Pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home and add it to a salad. It’s an easy protein that you don’t have to prep. We have found the best deal at Costco or Lunds & Byerlys has their “six buck cluck” on Fridays.
- Chicken Tenders – There are a lot of frozen options now with less ingredients. If we have the time, we like to make them at home with this Air Fryer Chicken Tenders recipe from Whole Kitchen Sink. We have an air fryer, but they can also be made in the oven. The mix can be made ahead of time and stored for future use.
- Chicken Sausage – We usually keep some type of chicken sausage on hand and pair it with many different meals (in a salad, with pasta, with potatoes and veggies). Check the ingredients list, but we’ve been able to find decent brands at most major grocery stores.
- Rotating Favorites – There are a few easy meals that are our favorites we keep in rotation throughout the month. Whenever we need a quick meal idea to grocery shop for, these are some of the ones we fall back on: Salsa Chicken, Egg Roll in a Bowl, and Simmerin’ Hawaiian Fajitas from Bailey Fischer’s “Slow Cooked Paleo” book.
Right now we’re in the “food before one is just for fun” stage with Q. We haven’t stressed too much about having a picky eater or if she is clearing her plate. My hope is that we can continue to provide healthy meals that we can all eat together as a family.
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