Today’s average person spends eight or more hours at work, an hour or so commuting to and from, several hours on after-school activities, homework and other outside commitments. And that is on a normal day. Sometimes, putting together a meal for the family seems next to impossible. Fortunately, there are some 2-minute meal solutions you can throw together. They are much faster than takeout and definitely healthier.
Fast Meal Ideas
Rotisserie + Fruit
Rotisserie chicken is a fairly healthy option to feed your family. While you will pay a bit more than if you cooked the chicken yourself, it is still far cheaper than eating out. In Indiana, I can buy a good size rotisserie chicken from my local store for around $5. This easily feeds my family of four and there will even be some leftover shredded chicken if I take the time to pick it from the bone. Add fruit and you have a very healthy meal.
- If you are good at planning ahead, throw a whole chicken in a crock pot and cover with Italian dressing or simply salt and pepper. Cook on low 6-7 hours and you’ll have a whole chicken to feed your family. I sometimes do the same thing with a bag of chicken breasts, but I cook them an hour less so they don’t dry out.
- If you have a large family or teen boys who eat a lot, get two chickens. It is better to have leftovers than hungry family members
- Grab a bag of rolls, too, and this is a delicious solution.
Grilled Chicken Salad
In the summer, we often turned to salads and soups as quick, healthy meals. You can buy pre-diced and cooked chicken in the freezer section at the grocery. You can also buy it in the refrigerator section. If you are looking for two minute meals, you’ll want to go for the refrigerated chicken, which you can put on the salad cold or warm in the microwave for a few seconds.
- Bagged lettuce
- Fresh fruit
- Almond slivers
The key here is to let everyone build their own salad the way they want. I have one daughter who doesn’t like cheese on her salad and another who doesn’t like the almonds. This way, they add what they want and everyone is happy. Plus, it saves me time.
Veggies, Meat & Cheese
I don’t know who came up with the concept that dinner has to be meat, starch, veggie and dessert. Someone who had a ton of time on her hands to cook, I suspect. For us, dinner is often a lighter meal. There shouldn’t be a rule that you have to have certain foods. Grabbing a meat and cheese tray and a veggie tray (or making your own ahead of time) is a great solution for dinner and very filling. While processed meats aren’t great for you, they are better than eating chicken nuggets or something along those lines.
- Fruit salad
- Dipping sauces
I always try to keep a few precooked meals around for fast solutions, especially if I know we’ll be busy. There are more options here than there used to be. They are full of sodium and not something to eat every day, but they can be a lifesaver if you need to put a meal on the table instantly. Here are some items you can keep on hand:
- Pre-cooked and shredded meats for barbecue sandwiches (can be frozen and thawed a couple of days before)
- Mashed potatoes (can be frozen)
- Pot roast in juice
- Items from the deli, such as chicken salad for quick sandwiches
- Refrigerated chicken and beef slices for fajitas in a flash
You get the idea. With these items on hand, you’ll cut your fast food stops dramatically.
Think Outside the Box
Does your family always need a four course meal for dinner? If everyone is tired and not that hungry anyway, let them all snack on whatever is on hand and ready for snacking. It helps if you keep some things readily available, such as popcorn, cut up fruit, veggies and dip and pretzels or veggie chips with dip.
The main thing is that you all get the sustenance you need to survive without one person collapsing from exhaustion because they are trying to do everything and cook a big meal. The occasional snack vs. meal won’t hurt anyone.