I may be a Registered Dietitian, but as an Army wife, I still struggle finding the motivation to cook without my husband around. In last week’s guest post, Five Tips for Healthy Deployment Eating, I offer general pointers for maintaining healthy eating habits during your spouse’s deployment. But just what can you make? Below are 10 quick, healthful and easy meal ideas.
Keep in mind: these tips can be used anytime, not just when your spouse is gone. I know that after a long day, the last thing I want to do is cook, even if my husband IS around! These meal ideas can make dinnertime delicious, nutritious, and no-sweat.
Prepare custom frozen meals. Cook, freeze, and then simply reheat lasagna or casseroles for nights when you don’t feel like cooking for a seemingly straight-out-of-the-oven, homemade meal! Allrecipes.com has a great article with recipes and tips on freezing foods.
Meats can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge or freezer. For example, bake plain chicken and use it throughout the week to top salads, pasta dishes, or in sandwiches.
Sandwiches and wraps make great grab-and-go meals. Set aside time to make a bunch of them at once to have on hand all week. For a more exciting lunch, get creative with these wrap ideas.
Salads are great, but who wants to chop vegetables every night? Instead, make a large salad once a week to enjoy over several mealtimes. Dietitian tip: make it as colorful as possible with spinach, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables. Add meat or beans and voila! You have a complete, nutritious meal.
Ditch the stovetop- use a crockpot! Make bulk items such as turkey chili, your favorite soup, or experiment with new recipes online (try browsing food.com for ideas). Enjoy leftovers later in the week or freeze them for a later date.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Omelets make an easy, high-protein meal. Customize them with your favorite vegetables and cheese! Here is a basic omelet recipe from food.com to get you started.
Nix the takeout and make your own Asian-inspired meal. For a quick and healthy dinner in no time, buy a pack of frozen stir-fry vegetables and simply toss it in a skillet. Add rice and meat/fish to complete the meal. Check out this helpful article for more stir-fry tips.
Tuna is called the ‘chicken of the sea’ for a reason! Both convenient and protein-rich, it goes great on sandwiches, salads, or crackers. Buy it canned in water and add low-fat mayo and relish.
Don’t underestimate PB&J. Read up on the history of this classic sandwich on its own Wikipedia page! For a boost of nutrition, try adding fruit like banana. Put it on high-fiber 100 percent whole wheat/whole grain bread and cut into shapes for fun!
Pasta is a cinch to make. Make pasta primavera by adding vegetables and meat (AKA vitamins and protein!) Plus, it’s great for using up old produce. Try this recipe from the Food Network.
As I said earlier, these are just a few strategies I use while my husband is away. Do you have any quick and healthy go-to meals? Please share in the comments section!
Chrissy Vimini is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian currently located at Fort Bliss, TX. Originally from Maryland, she works as a clinical dietitian at an El Paso medical center and also provides nutrition counseling. Find her on Twitter at @CVimRD or her blog “Mission: Dietitian”.