The secret to cooking a fast dinner that is still healthy and anti-inflammatory for you and your family is surprisingly simple. Face it, it’s been a mystery parents have been trying to figure out for decades. We continue to struggle to find time for food prep. We cannot find the time to cook meals that require hours-long preparation. Sometimes we just need QUICK and FAST. There is a secret to all this and I have the answer.
When looking to prepare a quick meal, the secret is to MEAL PLAN. Quickly prepare a list of recipes and foods. Then cook some of your ingredients all on one day, mixing and matching in various meals the rest of the week.
How to Meal Plan for Cooking a Fast Dinner
Meal planning sounds as if it will take a long time. However, it only takes a few minutes to cook a fast dinner if you plan appropriately. Simply spend a few minutes in advance in preparation of “half meal prep”.
Meal Planning 101: Review Your Pantry and Freezer for What You Have on Hand
What do you have on hand? This answer will help you create a recipe list – or at least an idea – to get started on what you might cook for the week. Traditional meal-planning is all about large batch preparation of meals, but that can sometimes take a lot of time to do. Why not prepare only part of the meal in advance in smaller batches and give yourself the freedom to improvise a quick toss-together in the moment?
Review what you have in your freezer and pantry, make a quick list of possible recipes and utilize the food available to plan for cooking a fast dinner. Don’t have enough food for the week? Throw a grocery list together of your healthy foods that fit in your favorite recipes and get to shopping for the week.
Meal Planning 101: Pre-cook Foods and Store in the Fridge for the Recipes
Some people prefer to prepare all their meals in advance as a part of a more traditional meal planning schedule. This can certainly work. However, what I have discovered is that I can make a rough list of recipe or main-course ingredients. This list of foods can be pre-prepared, then frozen or refrigerated for later quick incorporation. Throw it together in a mix-and-match combination the day needed for a super-quick dinner prep time.
What I do –
For example, one of the things I do is pre-make a ground turkey and vegetable mixture (you could use whatever protein you are able to consume with your health concerns in mind like ground beef or pork, beans, lentils, or peas into a mixture – poultry or plant-based foods are the least inflammatory), then freeze this mixture into meal-sized servings. You can see this recipe in the video below.
Pre-prepare Proteins —
Preparing your primary proteins in advance saves the most time. Mostly, but now always, proteins take the longest to fix. Therefore, pre-cooking these items makes them easier and faster to get dinner on the table quickly during the week.
Use fresh produce ASAP —
If you have fresh produce that is about to “go bad” or you are concerned about it molding, wash it up and pre-cook the vegetables, then freeze in usable portions so that you prevent waste.
Pre-make rice and beans —
I am primarily grain-free and bean-free in my diet due to my particular health concerns. However, if you are desperate and can’t find the regular anti-inflammatory food you eat you could probably consider consuming GLUTEN-FREE instead all the way grain-free. Your health professional should guide you – so please reach out if you have questions.
Now here’s THE BIG TRICK to cooking a fast dinner — I pull these things out as I need them and then combine them with a variety of seasonings or additional vegetables and you have a lot of variety with little effort the rest of the week.
Example of cooking a fast dinner week:
- First Day – Stir Fry all the meats and vegetables together with garlic, ginger, and Asian flavors, serve it over riced cauliflower
- Second Day – Heat the meat up and serve it hot over a cold salad with salad dressing
- Third Day – Add taco seasonings and mush it all together in a taco or lettuce wrap
- Fourth Day – Add your favorite seasonings to the meat, then layer vegetables and meat over a baked sweet potato
- Fifth Day – Throw all the ingredients in with some broth and make a delicious soup
You prevent waste by cooking all in advance – but separately – and freezing in individual or family sized portions. It only takes a quick minute to assemble with new flavors once pulled out of the freezer.
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