We are just past the middle of summer and some kids and parents can’t wait for the beginning of the school year in a few weeks. Others dread the start of the school year because it means packing lunches and getting meals on the table for dinner with less time to do it!
This month’s Nutrition Nuggets is about reframing what dinner meal looks like. If you are looking for lunch ideas too, check out last September’s post about healthy lunches on a budget here.
When we think of what to have for dinner, the new Canada’s Food Guide is a great picture to have in mind:
To reframe what a meal looks like with the above picture in mind, think about how you can incorporate fruits or vegetables into meals you already love.
Here is a week’s worth of easy dinner meals that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes:
1. Macaroni and cheese: Add frozen peas, carrots and corn to the macaroni while cooking. Serve canned fruit in fruit juice on the side.
2. Pizza: Use pita bread and have each member in the family add what they like for toppings. Have more vegetables than meats to choose from. Consider mushrooms, peppers, spinach, onions or garlic. Add cheese and put in the oven until cheese is melted.
3. Omelet: Make an omelet for dinner and use any vegetable in your house to add flavour and nutrients. Fry the vegetables first, add salt and pepper and then add egg and cheese if desired. Ideas for vegetables to add to eggs are frozen spinach, peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes or cauliflower.
4. Pancakes: Another breakfast for supper idea. You can add bananas, applesauce or frozen berries to the pancake batter or serve a lot of fruit on the side to get your half a plate at dinner. You can add peanut butter to the pancakes for protein or sprinkle some sunflower or pumpkin seeds into the batter for crunch.
5. Burritos: This is another create your own meal for families. Purchase whole wheat tortillas and stuff them with any combination of fillings. Ideas for filling are black beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and cheese. You can be creative here and use different beans and vegetables to create many variations.
6. Tuna melts: Last month’s post was all about tuna and how it can be used to create easy meals. See it here. To make sure you get your fruits and vegetables with this meal you can add apple, celery and onion to the tuna mix and you can serve it with raw carrots and the rest of the celery.
7. One sheet pan meal: Chicken, potatoes and veggies. You can use all different combinations with this one sheet pan meal. Chicken breasts, legs or thighs, sweet potatoes, russet or yellow and your choice of vegetables. This does take a little longer than 30 minutes based on the chicken you choose but cut it into smaller bite size pieces and it will be done sooner. See the recipe here.
There you have it, 7 days of easy, half your plate fruit and vegetable meals. Remember frozen fruit and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh because they are frozen at the time of harvest. You can find many frozen fruits and vegetables on sale throughout the year to help with your budget, while still offering a variety to your family.