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Five Quick and Healthy Meals with Limited Time and Money

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Despite good intentions limited time and money are frequently the culprits of last-
minute fast food choices. With very little planning and preparation, parents can ensure they always have a few healthy, budget-friendly options that won’t cost them any more time or money than it takes to pick up their dinner through a fast food window. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Please note that each recipe makes 2 servings:

  1. 8-minute Start to Finish Stir Fry. For a complete meal in less than 10 minutes, just boil a pot of water and cook a bag of quick-cooking brown rice. While the rice is cooking cut open a bag of pre-cut mixed frozen vegetables, and/or any other fresh veggies you have on hand (about 8- 10 oz.) and saute in one tablespoon of canola or olive for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Once the vegetables are tender, throw in your favorite can of beans (unsalted, rinsed and drained well). Heat all ingredients for 2-3 more minutes. Add your favorite salt-free seasonings (I prefer cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon, or curry). Put 2 cups of vegetable stir fry over ½ cup brown rice for a delicious, high fiber, cholesterol free meal!
  2. Homemade Veggie Burger. Sauté 2 Portobello mushrooms and 1 sliced red pepper in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for approximately 5-7 minutes. Season with ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Serve on a toasted whole wheat bun.
  3. Whole Grain Pasta Dinner. Boil a pot of water and add 4 oz of whole wheat pasta. While pasta is boiling, sauté 1 diced garlic clove and any fresh vegetables you may have available. After 1-2 minutes, pour 4 ounces of salt-free tomato sauce over vegetables. Season with your favorite seasonings (I prefer oregano, basil, ground black pepper, and cumin) Drain pasta, add to vegetable sauce mixture and enjoy!
  4. Protein-Packed Potatoes. Prepare a baked potato. Add your preference of steamed vegetables, top with salsa, and low fat cheddar cheese. For an extra dose of vitamins, serve with one cup of fat-free milk.
  5. High Fiber Mexican Meal. Pick up a bell pepper, avocado, and any other fresh vegetables from your local supermarket. Sauté vegetables until soft in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1 can of salt-free, drained black beans and heat thoroughly. Pour mixture on 2 whole grain, warmed tortillas. Top each tortilla with ½ sliced avocado and additional lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, etc.

Still looking for additional ideas to fit your family’s needs and preferences?
Seek out the help of a local Registered Dietitian to create a customized meal plan for you and your family. Dietitians can develop healthy menu plans despite any time, budget, or food restrictions your family may require. To find a dietitian in your area, please go to the American Dietetic Association’s website (


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About the Author

Lori is a registered dietitian & certified diabetes educator currently based in Los Angeles, California. She works with clients on an individual basis in order to reach their personal goals, motivating her clients using a science-based approach that will ensure their success. Her expertise are in wide range of areas, including diabetes, cancer, GI disorders, heart disease, kidney disease, eating disorders, pediatric nutrition, and wellness, fitness, and weight management.

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