5 staple foods for quick, healthy family dinners - LivewellNebraska.com
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5 staple foods for quick, healthy family dinners

Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill here.

I often hear parents say they don't know what's for dinner — that it's hard to plan ahead with busy schedules and picky kids.

I can't say I blame them ... and I only have two kids to cart around! So I always ask myself, how can I make this easier?

Dinner doesn't have to be complicated. It's okay to have sandwiches, pasta or breakfast food, especially on the busy nights. If you have certain foods on hand, you'll always have a quick backup plan.

The foods and recipes below are staples in making simpler, healthier, time-saving meals for your family. And although not everything that works for mine will work perfectly for yours, this is a great starting point.


• Smart and Delicious Whole Grain Tortillas (100 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber) or Flatout Soft Wraps (100 calories, 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber)

• Canned chicken or wild, skinless, boneless salmon

• Organic baby spinach

• Eggs or egg beaters

• Whole wheat pasta such as Healthy Harvest

• Salmon salad. Mix canned salmon with equal parts low-fat mayonnaise and plain fat-free Greek yogurt. Add a squirt of lemon juice and some dill. Serve over baby spinach.

• Peanut or almond butter spread over a Flatout wrap and rolled around a sliced banana.

• Serve lower sugar instant oatmeal with scrambled eggs and yogurt for “breakfast at dinner"


• Bean and cheese quesadilla: Use canned black beans or use refried beans that are free of lard and/or excess fats. Top with low fat cheese and melt/toast over medium heat.

• Chicken salad on a wrap. Mix a small can of chicken with 1 TBSP each of low-fat mayonnaise and nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Add seasonings of your choice.

• Serve pre-cooked, cold whole wheat pasta with your favorite vinaigrette and chopped veggies mixed in. I recommend tossing 1/2 cup pasta with a teaspoon of dressing, finely chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and olives. Add black beans at the end.

• Scrambled egg and spinach wrap.

• Salmon noodle bake. Use canned salmon in place of tuna, and whole wheat pasta, in any tuna-noodle recipe.

• Tacos or burritos with a lean protein such as lean ground beef or turkey.

• Whole wheat pasta with red sauce. Serve with a dairy product such as low-fat grated cheese or cottage cheese. Or use another protein such as grilled chicken strips.


• Milk: Low fat, skim, soy, almond, or your other healthy favorite.

• Fruit: Use skewers for the kids if you have time.

• Veggie: Baby spinach, shelled pre-cooked edamame, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, mushrooms, sugar snap peas.

• Cottage Cheese: 2% or lighter

• Yogurt: I like Greek varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar.

• Whole wheat toast with a light spread such as Brummel and Brown or Laughing Cow Light. Add a little low fat grated Parmesan for "cheese toast."

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