Wednesdays with Whitney: Food for Busy Schedules

School/school sports/school activities have started back up and lots of working parents now have crazy busy schedules. Do you have any favorite 15-minute HEALTHY meals? What is your family's "emergency--I don't have the energy to cook" food?

School/school sports/school activities have started back up and lots of working parents now have crazy busy schedules. Do you have any favorite 15-minute HEALTHY meals? What is your family's "emergency--I don't have the energy to cook" food?


The inevitable race to get food on the table every. single. night. Making meal plans and food prepping is always the goal. That goal is not usually met. Yes, some weeks I can get an item or two prepped/planned, and it does help, and other weeks no such luck. So, here are five tips to making dinner time less of a hassle and five 15ish-minute meal ideas.


Tips to an easier/more enjoyable dinner:

  1. Don’t stress. We are not gourmet chefs and our dinners do not always need to be Instagram-worthy. Food on the table = A+ for the night.

  2. Keep it simple. Aim for protein, fat, carbohydrate (preferably with fiber).

  3. Call in reinforcements. Ask your kids to help. Ask your toddlers/preschoolers to help set the table, rinse food, stir and dump ingredients. Ask your older kids to cut/chop, read a recipe, be your sous chef, etc.

  4. One meal. News Flash: you are not a short-order cook. Offer one meal. Ensure that each member of the family likes at least one food offered. Your child will survive without their last-minute, pleaded for PB&J.

  5. Embrace leftovers. Plan for leftovers. Do the work once and enjoy more than once.

Five 15 minute-ish meal ideas:

  1. Turkey (or beef or salmon or veggie) burgers with veggies: frozen turkey burgers (we use Bubba usually) or make them with ground turkey (add an egg, spices, or panko crumbs to spice it up) on buns or wraps or over greens. Offer raw veggies (think cucumbers, carrots, peppers, etc.) or roasted veggies (if you have time) or a bag of sweet potato puffs (Alexa brand is our go-to). Add variety to the burger: top with tomato, onions (pickled are my favorite), or avocado.

  2. English muffin (or tortilla wrap) pizzas: English muffins, sauce, cheese and load it up with toppings (canned pineapple, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, olives; fresh peppers, mushrooms, onion; pepperoni, leftover ground beef, etc.). Include a side of fruit or veggies (applesauce, a clementine, frozen peas, a side salad).

  3. Tacos: beef, black bean, chicken, or pork (fried up in a skillet or cooked in a crockpot). Offer a selection of toppings: tomatoes, black olives, lettuce (can buy pre-cut to save time), sour cream and/or salsa. Have it again as taco salad!

  4. Gourmet grilled cheese/tuna melts: See the burger add ons above; think of how you can make your grilled cheese funky! Add a side of fruit/veggie (if not inside the sandwich). I recommend 100% whole wheat bread for the fiber.

  5. Pasta and veggies: any pasta (or mac n cheese) with sauce or butter or olive oil…can add meat or beans if you prefer. Add leftover veggies, a side of raw veggies or side salad. Sprinkle with cheese or nutritional yeast.

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