5 Tips for Getting a Healthy Meal on the Table Quickly

By Melissa Batai

When your kids are home all day with you while you homeschool, you face what feels like a constant barrage of requests for food. First, there’s breakfast. You clean up after that, get a few hours of homeschool done, and then it’s time for lunch. Clean up, have a few more hours of time to get work done, and then it’s time for dinner. Don’t forget snack time in between the meals. You may feel like all you do every day is cook and clean up the kitchen. If that’s how you feel (I know I often do), then consider making some time-saving changes.

5 Tips for Getting a Healthy Meal on the Table Quickly

Use these strategies, and you’ll find that you should be able to get a healthy meal on the table in less time.

Make a Weekly Meal Plan

First, on the weekend, take the time to make a meal plan for the week. If I don’t have a meal plan at the beginning of the week, I find that when five o’clock rolls around, I’m too frazzled to be creative and determine what to make for dinner. This can lead to eating unhealthy meals or even getting costly take-out. 

To avoid this scenario, have a meal plan in place. Doing so allows you to pull out meat to thaw and to prep vegetables ahead of time, so you’re one step ahead when you need to start making dinner.

Have Some Convenience Meals On Hand

We all have days that don’t go right. Perhaps you have a doctor’s appointment that runs late, or school takes longer than you expected. For days like these, you need a few convenience meals on hand. That might be boxed macaroni and cheese or frozen meatballs that you throw in a pan with some sauce. For us, it’s frozen chicken nuggets and fries. I bake those for 20 minutes and add a veggie. We have this quick meal usually once a week.

Make Double of a Meal

Another strategy is to double every meal you make. If your family doesn’t mind leftovers, you can eat the second batch of the meal a few days later, saving you time.

If your family doesn’t enjoy eating the same meal twice in a week, freeze the second meal. In a few weeks or months, you can pull it from the freezer and serve it again. (Keep in mind that some foods like pasta and white potatoes don’t freeze well, so choose meals without those ingredients to freeze.)

Prep The Ingredients You’ll Need on the Weekend

If you have an hour or two on the weekend, prep most of the ingredients you’ll need for meals in the upcoming week.  Doing so saves so much time on the weekdays.

Cook Up the Meat You’ll Need

One of my favorite techniques is to prep all the meat on the weekend. I usually brown down a pound or two of ground beef. Then, during the weekday, I can pull the already browned meat out to add to spaghetti, or put in tacos, or add to soup. Having the meat already browned easily saves me 20 minutes off my dinner time cooking.

Prep all of the Vegetables You’ll Need

Besides browning down beef, you can save yourself even more time during the week by prepping all of the vegetables you’ll need. If you’re making beef vegetable soup, you’ll save about 20 minutes by having the meat browned beforehand. But if you also have all of the vegetables chopped, you’ll save yourself even more time. Then you just need to sauté the veggies and then let the soup simmer. This allows you time to do other tasks while the soup cooks. This strategy is my favorite way to put dinner on the table!

Repurpose the Meat

Another option is to cook a large piece of meat on the weekend and repurpose it during the week. For instance, sometimes my husband will slow cook pork butt. The night he cooks it, we eat it as is. Then, throughout the week, we use the pork in different ways:

Pulled Pork

First, we mix some of it with sauce and make pulled pork sandwiches.

Pork Tacos

Then, we use some of the meat from the first night to make pork tacos. We top them with chopped cabbage as well as green salsa.

Chili Verde

Finally, we use the remainder for Chili Verde soup. 

Of course, if you don’t want to use all of the leftover meat in a week, you can always freezer it for later.

Final Thoughts

Putting lunch and dinner on the table seven days a week doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you use these tips for getting a healthy meal on the table quickly. Between meal prepping on the weekend, freezing some meals, and repurposing meat, you can cut your time in the kitchen dramatically.

What is your favorite strategy to save time when making meals for the family?