7-Day Meal Plan: Shortcut Dinners for a Busy Week
Keep your freezer stocked with healthy convenience foods for quick and easy meals all week long.
Cooking from scratch is a great way to eat healthy, but it's not always the most realistic with a busy schedule. Venturing down the frozen food aisle for some staples can save you serious time and energy in the evenings. And while the frozen food section often gets a bad rap, it is possible to find healthier options. This week's meal plan combines carefully curated convenience foods with fresh ingredients to make delicious, easy dinners everyone will love. Be sure to check out the shopping tips which will help guide you to the healthier items.
Day 1: Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables
Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables: Using leftover or pre-cooked chicken and frozen veggies make this whole-grain peanut noodle recipe quick and easy.
Shopping Tip: Frozen vegetables are a cheap, healthy and convenient alternative to fresh. Keep a bag of frozen veggies in your freezer and you'll never have an excuse not to include veggies at dinner.
Day 2: Veggie Burger Hash
Veggie Burger Hash: This vegetarian riff on corned beef hash uses frozen black bean veggie burgers for an easy, healthy dinner recipe. Some frozen veggie burgers have a firmer texture than others-the softer ones will crumble more when you mix them into the vegetables.
Shopping Tip: Shoot for a veggie burger with 200 mg or less of sodium per patty and skip any brands with added sugar. If you can't find a brand without added sugar, choose one that has sugar listed as one of the last ingredients.
Day 3: Ham & Gruyère Hash Brown Waffles
Ham & Gruyère Hash Brown Waffles: This healthy breakfast-for-dinner recipe skips stirring up a traditional batter and uses frozen hash browns to make crunchy waffles instead. Top the waffles with a little cultured butter and chives or a dollop of whole-grain mustard and serve with a big green salad. Keep the waffles warm in a 250°F oven between batches, if desired. You can use a 20-ounce bag of shredded fresh potatoes instead of the frozen ones-no need to squeeze them in Step 2.
Shopping Tip: For a healthy frozen hash brown, look for one that is unseasoned to save 200-300 mg of sodium per serving.
Day 4: Eggplant & Mozzarella Stick Roll-Ups
Eggplant & Mozzarella Stick Roll-Ups: In this healthy dinner recipe, wrapping tender slices of eggplant around frozen mozzarella sticks yields eggplant Parmesan-like results in a fraction of the time. Serve with a leafy green salad for an easy meal.
Shopping Tip: Choose a brand of mozzarella sticks that have less than 250 mg of sodium per serving with little to no added sugar.
Day 5: Fish Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema
Fish Tacos with Avocado-Lime Crema: If battering and frying fish sounds messy, frozen fish sticks are your fish taco savior in this healthy dinner recipe. Use them for a quick, kid-friendly dinner or try popcorn shrimp as an alternative. Serve the fish tacos with your favorite salsa and black beans on the side.
Shopping Tip: To choose a healthy fish stick, opt for one with 300 mg or less of sodium per serving and with as little added sugar as possible. For a sustainable option, look for the blue Marine Stewardship Council certified label.
Day 6: Meatball & Creamed Spinach Skillet
Meatball & Creamed Spinach Skillet: Spaghetti and meatballs is a no-brainer, but pairing meatballs with a pile of creamed spinach topped with marinara and cheese is a flavorful twist. Choose your favorite frozen meatballs-beef, chicken or veggie.
Shopping Tip: Aim for a brand of frozen meatballs with no added sugar and 450 mg of sodium or less for a healthy dinner recipe.
Day 7: Potstickers & Vegetable Stir-Fry
Potstickers & Vegetable Stir-Fry: Turning frozen potstickers into a complete meal is easy when you add them to a vegetable stir-fry in this healthy dinner recipe. Customize based on what's in your fridge-carrots, broccoli and mushrooms are all great choices. Keep it vegetarian with vegetable potstickers or try shrimp or chicken for some additional protein.
Shopping Tip: Choose a potsticker with 600 mg or less of sodium per serving.
Watch: Healthy Foods to Stock Your Freezer