You are spending way too much time in your kitchen! Making fast, healthy dinners doesn’t have to be complicated. Time consuming meals can have a place in your life, if you want them to. But putting meals on the table that you can feel confident about does not have to include a lot of steps and extra dishes.
Today’s post is meant to be a short, quick blessing to you. I’m giving you my top five favorite meals that I make that save me time and leave me with less clean up.
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
Kitchen Clean Up Doesn’t Have to Rule Your PM Block
Not only do you spend time making the meals, but you have to handle the clean up afterwards, too. If you are like most moms, that means that you make the meal, eat the meal, do all the kid things, and then come back to clean up the kitchen after the kids are in bed. It can be overwhelming!
A lot of nights, you don’t have the energy to get it all done. So you leave it all for the next morning, starting your day with a messy kitchen. This means you start the day feeling behind. Let’s dive in and change this!
Menu Board Meal Planning for Fast, Healthy Dinners
I have a system that I use for my meal planning. Episode 8 of the podcast is where I talk about it. If you haven’t heard of my menu board system, go read the blog post and listen to that episode. It is the game changing starting point for this post.
This was the number one system that let me know that systems were the key to success in motherhood. You need to put this system in place for you and prove to yourself that you can stick with it.
What Happens When You Start Using the Menu Board System?
When you start using a meal planning system, you will stop taking so much time planning out your meals for the week. You won’t be spending so much time each day thinking about what you are making for dinner. It truly is a game changer. Get yours in place yesterday.
If you are struggling with what meals to put on your board, I got you! Here are my top five fast, healthy dinners:
1. Hamburger Bowls
I ditched hamburger buns years ago. Blaine and I have turned most of our meals into a bowl option. It’s such a beautiful thing. The reason I did that is because I just don’t eat the grains. My kids don’t like the grains and Blaine is trying to make his calories more meaningful.
What Does This Look Like?
Everything you would have in a hamburger, you just put it in a bowl. It sounds weird, but it’s so good. You put french fries in the bottom of the bowl. I buy them frozen and bake them at home.
While they are cooking, I prep all my toppings. We use tomatoes, shredded cheese, cut onions, and chopped lettuce. I cook the ground beef in a cast iron skillet. That’s all I’m doing. I have one cutting board with all the prepped toppings on it, one skillet for the beef, and one pan for the french fries. That’s it.
How to Serve Hamburger Bowls
Everyone gets a bowl or a plate. You put the french fries in and then add your toppings. Blaine used ketchup on his. I think it is a million times better with the paleo ranch dressing. We also have avocado on the side or on top. Avocados go with almost all of our meals.
2. Orange Chicken, White Rice, and Broccoli
I now buy the orange chicken from Trader Joe’s, but I have made orange chicken from scratch before to make it grain free. You can either buy an orange chicken sauce or make your own. It totally depends on what you want and where you are in your cooking.
For the rice, I cook that in bulk. We often have rice ready to simply heat up for lunches or even rice pudding. Super simple and makes for less work during the week.
The broccoli I buy is already chopped. I pop that in the skillet with a liberal amount of coconut oil and salt. Put the skillet in a 400 degree oven for about 22 minutes. These come out tasting a bit like potato chips, super yummy even for kids.
“Getting a healthy meal on the table doesn’t have to be complicated.”
3. Rotisserie Chicken, Asparagus, and a Grain
Whatever carbohydrate I have on hand, I pair it with this. Occasionally, I skip the grain for myself. Sometimes it is pasta or a frozen prepped potato. I try to go grain free, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the kids want mac and cheese and I say yes.
Cook the asparagus the same as the broccoli above. I do use olive oil instead of coconut oil because I like the flavor better with the asparagus. Serve the asparagus with some of the rotisserie chicken and the grain. It’s super simple.
4. Spaghetti, Meatballs, and Green Beans
This is another one that I make frequently, good old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. I steam green beans every single week. The kids eat them cold in their lunch box. Sometimes we have them heated up with dinner, tossed with olive oil and salt. Every once in a while, I will sprinkle them with Old Bay seasoning just for something different.
I buy premade meatballs now, but I used to make them all the time. Trader Joe’s makes amazing ones that save me time. For the pasta, I love the many options for gluten-free or paleo. Sometimes I will go straight-up spaghetti squash for me. You can even use zucchini spirals. Top it all with your favorite jar of marinara and done!
5. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Bake some sweet potatoes in your oven and stuff them with whatever you want. I make more than we need for one meal and keep them in the refrigerator. They then become that extra carbohydrate for other meals. A cold, cubed sweet potato is one of my kids favorite things to have in their lunch box. Having sweet potatoes on hand is a great way to make fast, healthy dinners happen.
You can stuff these with literally anything you want. I love to put ground turkey or my homemade sloppy joe sauce on them. Jam pack them with meat and a green. Broccoli and brussel sprouts are both amazing in them. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, you can use that. The possibilities are endless!
How Do I Have Less Clean Up?
You may be wondering how these five fast, healthy dinners lead to less clean up. The good news is that my tip for that works no matter what meals you are making. It’s not brand new information, but the key to having less clean up at the end of your meals is to clean as you go. Yes, it may take you a little longer to get the meal prepared, but let me tell you what this does for me.
When I sit down to eat my meal, the only thing that is usually left for me to clean are pots and pans. That’s it. Everything else is already done. Pots, pans, and countertops are all that I have left to bring my kitchen back to clean.
The kids get up from eating and they clear their own plates. They put them straight in the dishwasher or in the sink, depending on how full the dishwasher is. While I quickly do the pans, they run off to start their shower. After I am finished, I meet up with them to do their bedtime routines. No messy kitchen is waiting for me before I can relax into my evening routine.
Fast, Healthy Dinners Are Possible
Maybe these five meals don’t fit your family’s needs. Over in the Academy, we have menu board meal bank that is 100% organized by category and by specific dietary needs. As soon as you become a member, you have access to that spreadsheet. You can add your meals and use ideas suggested by others.
You can do this, momma! Remember to check in with us in the Facebook group for even more support. I’m rooting for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to meal plan?
The best way to meal plan is to find the way that works for you. Some mommas like to use a digital meal planning app. I like to use my menu board system. It’s simple to use, which means I can easily keep up with it. By keeping it displayed in our family’s communication center, that means everyone can see it, which lessens the amount of times I hear, “What’s for dinner?”
Listen to episode 8 on the podcast (The Menu Board Meal Planning System for Busy Moms: Easy Dinner Ideas and Simple Weeknight Meals the Whole Family Will Love) to hear all about it. Don’t forget to pop into the Facebook group for meal ideas or to join the Academy to have access to the organized meal bank.