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Forging Homemade Meals

All the activities in “back-to-school September” can feel like the New Year for families. So this year, make a new school year “resolution” to have more family meals.

All the activities in “back-to-school September” can feel like the New Year for families. So this year, make a new school year “resolution” to have more family meals.

Mealtime may be the only time a family can reconnect throughout the day. That’s why families who eat together are closer. What's more, children who regularly eat with their families are more likely to have healthful diets and get good grades in school. At the same time, they're less likely to suffer from depression or experiment with alcohol or drugs as they get older.

No time to whip up a homemade meal? You still can enjoy all the benefits of a family dinner. Try these four speedy meals that you can dish up in minutes.

  • One-pot whole-wheat spaghetti and meatballs with store-bought sauce and a salad. A well-stocked pantry and freezer can go a long way in cutting down on last-minute trips to the supermarket. Fill your pantry with go-to ingredients, including your family favorite spaghetti sauce and whole-wheat noodles. Load your freezer with ravioli, stuffed shells and manicotti to give yourself options. Toss together a fresh salad topped with Italian dressing, and dinner never will be more than 20 minutes away.
  • Rotisserie chicken, roasted sweet potato wedges and broccoli. You don’t have to feel guilty if you use frozen veggies because they are flash frozen within hours of harvesting. Some frozen vegetables have more nutrients than fresh produce. Plus, frozen veggies are ready in the microwave in minutes. In addition to broccoli, load up on frozen edamame, carrots, corn, chopped spinach and even mashed potatoes. Buy vegetables without sauce and toss with a little heart-healthy olive oil.
  • Vegetarian taco burgers with a cucumber salad. A vegetarian meal doesn't have to mean spending hours slaving over the stove. Keep staples such as pre-made veggie burgers and whole-wheat buns on hand for a meatless meal you can throw together on the fly. Serve with sliced cucumbers drizzled with your favorite vinaigrette.
  • Grilled chicken Caesar salad with French bread. For the ultimate healthful convenience meal, slice store-bought grilled chicken breasts and toss with hearts of romaine and light Caesar dressing. If you have a few minutes to spare, bake a loaf of frozen whole-wheat dinner rolls or French bread and the house will smell like you've been baking all afternoon.

Bon appetit!

Brittany Twiss, R.D., L.R.D., Program Assistant, NDSU Extension

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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