NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Nutritious + Quick Meals for Busy Families

Nutritious + Quick Meals for Busy Families



Serving your family a quick, nutritious meal can be the ultimate challenge for harried parents. The kids are constantly on the go.  Working parents have demands on their time.  Those tight schedules can add up to almost zero time for meal preparation.  Yet the research is clear - Children who eat dinner with their families most nights are much more likely to do well in school and less likely to become overweight, develop eating disorders, smoke cigarettes or abuse drugs. The combination of structure, nutrition and communication that family meals represent is a powerful, positive force in a child's life..


How can you preserve family mealtime and still meet your busy schedule? Here are a few simple strategies and tips that will let you whip up quick healthy meals.


Remember Your Crock Pot?

From meatloaf to chicken, and soups to desserts, the meals you can make in a crock pot are almost limitless. Take a few minutes to put the ingredients into the crock pot before work, and then let it cook while you're away.  For safety’s sake it is not recommended to cook roasts over 5 pounds in a crockpot as the length of time needed for the very center of a large roast to reach a safe temp is too long.


Get Creative with Leftovers

Leftovers often get a bad rap. Well maybe you just haven't met the right leftovers! One roast/chicken cooked over the weekend can become barbequed sandwiches, cut up and served over noodles, made into soup, etc., etc.


Breakfast 24/7

Eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon, hash browns – are delicious breakfast foods that taste just as good for an evening meal and can be ready on short notice. Foods such as omelets, quiche, Canadian bacon, pancakes and waffles are fast and nutritious meals that satisfy hungry family members.


Cook for an Army

Choose one night a week to cook - and cook in bulk. You can cook several boneless, skinless chicken breasts at once, and then use them throughout the week by simply heating them up or by adding barbeque sauce, adding some to pasta or a salad, topping with ham and Swiss cheese and so much more. And while you're cooking those chicken breasts, you can easily cook a big pot (or a crock pot full) of soup, stew or chili and freeze what you're not going to use right away. Doing some heavy duty cooking just once a week will yield many meals all week long



If you value your sanity, don't begin a school week without at least one heat-and-serve entree in your freezer or refrigerator.  This can be a home-made casserole that is ready to pop in the oven or purchased, frozen lasagna.  Either version supplies your family with a hot meal in a hurry.


White Chicken Chili Recipe/ Crockpot version


1 lb. chicken, cut up into small chunks

1 cup chopped onion

1 can chicken broth

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

2 tsp. Cumin seed (ground will not withstand long cooking as well)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves

3 -15oz cans white beans (great northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed

1 or 2 chopped red, green or yellow bell peppers, or combination

Jalapeno chili peppers, fresh, jarred or canned, optional or 'to taste'

In a 4 or 6 quart crockpot combine the chicken, onions, chicken broth, garlic, cumin and oregano.

Cook on low for approximately 3 – 5 hours. Add drained bean and peppers. Cook on low no more than 1-2 hours or beans will be mushy.






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