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5 Quick Weeknight Dinners for Busy Families

By Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., November 12, 2013 - 10:21am

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Stacy Fraser, EatingWell’s Test Kitchen Manager, and I recently offered dinner ideas and advice to a group of working mothers. When we asked, “What is the most difficult part of making a healthy dinner?” the overwhelming answer was one word: time. Serving a healthy dinner is hard when you’re trying to juggle school, work, exercising, grocery shopping and activities for kids and parents. The last thing you want is to add another to-do to your list—to plan your meals. Most of us just make it up on the fly. At 4:55 p.m. In the grocery store.

So we figured we could help out. We spend our days thinking about food and what to eat (and we have to feed our families every night too!). So we came up with a FREE downloadable mini cookbook of 20 weeknight-friendly recipes for busy families, enough to get you through a month of meals!

Get the 4-week meal plan, plus 20 recipes, in one amazing and free pdf.

The recipes in this week’s plan start with protein-packed quinoa veggie burgers and include Cheddar-stuffed meatloaf, sweet salmon, BBQ sausage-and-beans and lightened General Tso’s Chicken. I've also included ideas below for fast and healthy side dishes to round out each meal. So take a deep breath—we've taken away the stress of meal planning and having to decide “What's for dinner?” Your overworked brain—and family—will thank you.

Here's this week's menu:

Monday: Quinoa Veggie Burger
Serving idea: On a whole-wheat bun, with a mixed green salad with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Quinoa Veggie BurgerThese veggie burgers are one of our most popular recipes of the year. Mushrooms, pecans and Cheddar cheese are all mashed together with quinoa for this “meat-lovers” burger.

Tuesday: Cheddar-Stuffed Mini Meatloaves
Serving idea: While the meatloaf bakes, sauté some baby spinach with garlic and serve with mashed sweet potatoes.

Cheddar-Stuffed Mini MeatloavesThese adorable mini meatloaves have an added surprise—cheese! If you don’t have mini loaf pans, just shape the meatloaves freeform onto a baking sheet. To make this an even quicker meal, assemble the meatloaves in the morning and refrigerate until you're back home and ready to bake.

Wednesday: Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon
Serving idea: While the salmon broils, sauté some zucchini and peppers and steam some brown rice.

Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon Broiling salmon is super-fast and tastes delicious with this lightly sweet-and-salty glaze. If you don’t have rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a nice substitute.

Thursday: BBQ Beans & Sausage
Serving idea: Pair with a tossed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

BBQ Beans & SausageIn this easy one-pan dinner, chicken sausage and white navy beans are cooked with collards and mixed with your favorite (healthy) barbecue sauce.

Friday: General Tso’s Chicken
Serving idea: Spoon over brown rice or rice noodles.

General Tso's ChickenInstead of getting greasy takeout, why not make a healthy version at home? This Chinese-inspired recipe is a makeover of the classic sweet and fried chicken known as General Tso’s. With a fraction of the salt and calories—and with added green vegetables—this recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

For this week's recipes and more:
Get the 4-week meal plan, plus 20 recipes, in one amazing and free pdf.

What is your go-to weeknight dinner? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., Food Blog, Dinner, Family meals

Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D.
Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., is an associate food editor at EatingWell where she splits her time among EatingWell magazine, and cooking new healthy recipes in the Test Kitchen. Breana has a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust trained sommelier and is a registered dietitian.

Breana asks: What is your go-to weeknight dinner?

Tell us what you think:

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