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By Samantha Burnett

30 minutes and dinner is ready

“What’s for dinner? I’m hungry!” it is the most commonly heard phrase after a long day at the office. You have thirty minutes before your family starts attacking the pantry, making slated food choices. Here are a few meal ideas (with servings based on a family of four) that are healthy and worthy of applause, in 30 minutes.

  • Stir Fry. You can use chicken, steak or pork for this dish. For a family of four, I recommend 1.5 pounds of meat. Rice is a great accompaniment to stir fry and you will want to make the rice first. Once the rice is cooking, add oil (I like olive oil for a healthier option), and heat your pan to a medium high setting. Thinly slice the meat in strips. Add the meat to the pan, letting it cook for about three minutes total. While the meat is cooking, slice one clove of garlic, two carrots, one zucchini, one cup of broccoli and a handful of snap peas. (You can also buy the prepared stir fry vegetables in the frozen food section at your grocery store, which is a great time saver!) Toss the vegetables in the pan, turning down the heat to medium. Cook and stir for about three minutes, then add 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce. Serve. Overall prep and cooking time: 25 minutes.
  • Make it a Taco Tuesday. This is a family favorite. You will need 6-8 tortillas (corn or flour), 1.5 pounds of ground beef, one package or of shredded cheese (Mexican or Cheddar will do the trick), half of a diced onion, 1 cup of shredded lettuce, a handful of chopped cilantro, one can of black beans, 3/4 teaspoon of chili powder, one teaspoon of ground cumin, one teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the pan on medium high, then add the ground beef, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and onion. Cook and stir until browned. Put aside. Open and drain the black beans. Then, in their own serving bowls, add the cilantro, shredded cheese, black beans and shredded lettuce. You may want to add hot sauce, sour cream, salsa or guacamole. Overall prep and cooking time: 15 minutes.
  • Grill it. This is always a quick and healthy option. You will need: 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/4 cup of Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper Seasoning, 2 bell peppers (sliced), 1 large zucchini, one thinly sliced potato and two tablespoons of olive oil to coat the vegetables. Heat the grill on medium high. While you are waiting for the grill to heat up, grab some boneless skinless chicken breast and season it with Mrs. Dash’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning. Place on the grill and let it cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Put aside. Add the veggies to the grill, (make sure you have coated them with oil!) and cook for two minutes, each side. Overall prep and cooking time: 20 minutes.
  • Salmon and Pesto Pasta. You will need; 1/2 pound of salmon, 1/2 cup of pesto sauce, one tablespoon of capers, 1/2 of a lemon (for juice and zest), one container of pasta (usually angel hair works best) and salt and pepper for seasoning. Follow the directions for your pasta and cook this first. While the pasta is cooking, season your salmon with salt and pepper and pan fry until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Set aside. Drain noodles and add them to a mixing bowl. Add the pesto, capers, juice and zest of the lemon and mix. Place on serving dish, using the noodles as a bed for the salmon and serve. Prepration and cooking time: 15 minutes.

The best thing to remember is to use your flair and remember to bring your taste preferences to these dishes. They are all versatile enough for you to substitute to your liking. Also, remember you can make these dishes even healthier by modifying the starches (brown rice, gluten free or wheat pasta for example). All of these dishes will give you a chance to enjoy your evening, while satisfying your family and knowing you served a tasty and healthy dish in under 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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