One of the most frequent obstacles/challenges we hear from our members at SHIFT is, “I don’t have time to make a healthy dinner.”  With limited time, we often resort to convenience foods, which usually results in a meal that is low in nutrient-dense foods and lacks balance. To help combat this problem, our SHIFT Dietitians have come up with a few tips on how to create balanced dinners that can be made in under 10 minutes!

When producing a quick dinner, first think about the Balanced Plate. Choose from the following categories to achieve a well-balanced meal and aim for the following proportions: ½ Vegetables, ¼ Lean Protein, ¼ Complex Carbohydrates.

 

Lean Protein

Complex Carbohydrate

Vegetables/Fruits

Eggs (Scrambled, Fried, Hard-Boiled)

Whole wheat bread

Frozen steamer vegetables

Canned tuna

Instant 1-minute brown rice (i.e. Uncle Ben’s®)

Salad kits

Pre-cooked chicken sausages

Frozen, pre-cooked quinoa, brown rice (i.e. Trader Joe’s®)

Frozen fruits/vegetables or smoothie packs

Preservative-free deli meat – turkey, chicken, ham or roast beef

Oatmeal – instant or old-fashioned oats

Pre-cut vegetable or fruit trays

Protein powder or ready-to-drink protein shakes

Canned beans and legumes

Frozen riced cauliflower or broccoli

For example, see below for Sample Meals using the above foods.

Meal #1

2-3 scrambled eggs

Oatmeal

1 serving fruit/vegetables

Meal #2

Salad kit

1 can tuna mixed with olive oil mayo

1 slice whole wheat toast

Meal #3

Pre-cooked chicken sausage(s)

Frozen steamer vegetables

Frozen pre-cooked quinoa

Frozen Meals

If you are especially short on time, frozen meals can be another great option. Try to keep a few on hand for the unexpected occasion where you are low on time or have limited groceries. When choosing frozen meals, aim for Balanced Plate proportions and try to pick meals with at least 15 grams of protein. Some brand options include:

·         Evol® Bowls

·         Luvo® Bowls and Steamer Pouches

·         Healthy Choice® Power Bowls

·         Smart Made by Smart Ones®

·         Amy’s® Bowls

Meal Delivery Services

Another great tool to lean on if you don’t have time to grocery shop or are unable to cook are meal delivery services. While some meal kit services require time to cook and prepare the meal, many can be delivered and require you to simply heat it up. Some of our favorite meal delivery services include:

·         Freshly®

·         Trifecta®

·         Factor 75®

·         Cooked Chicago®

·         Real Eats®

The best way to approach the nights where quick dinners are a necessity is to prepare. Always have the quick foods listed above on your grocery list, keep some frozen meals stocked, and/or schedule a few meals to be delivered if you know you have a crazy week ahead. Don’t let time be the factor preventing you from reaching your health goals! 

For more information and individualized recommendations, talk to a SHIFT Dietitian. info@shiftlife.com.