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These Cheap, Easy Meals Will Make Your Workweek Easier

chopping cilantro

Hectic workweeks can make keeping the family — and yourself — well fed a bit stressful. Late nights and long commutes can make swinging through the nearest fast food drive-thru an appealing temptation. Doing so too often gets expensive, though — especially if it results in a need to buy bigger pants.

Home-cooked meals aren’t only cheaper and healthier, but they also help you keep portion sizes in check. Whipping up your own meals provides the opportunity to experiment with which flavor blends you and your family adore most. Give these cheap, easy, healthy meals a try the next time you crave something homemade. You don’t need to be Emeril Lagasse to master them.

For Vegetarians

  1. Vegetarian fajitas. By the time your tortillas heat in the oven, your spicy veggie toppings will be ready to go. Everyone uses peppers and onions when they make fajitas, but don’t hold back: Experiment with broccoli, corn, carrots — the possibilities are nearly endless. As an alternative to wrapping these vegetable delights in tortillas, you can also serve them over rice and beans or even lettuce for a fajita salad. Sprinkle with colby-jack cheese or vegan crumbles.
  2. Vegan pizza lunchables. Vegans also watching their carb intake will adore these bite-sized snacks, and they’ll also make your kid the envy of the school cafeteria. They’re gluten-free if anyone in your family suffers from sensitivities to the grain protein, and you can throw them together in just 20 minutes on Sunday and refrigerate for grab-and-go goodness all week long.
  3. Vegan sloppy joes. Those seeking the scrumptious sloppiness of this classic sandwich need not send a single cow to slaughter. The legumes in this recipe provide needed protein and the various veggies pack a powerful vitamin punch. You can also enjoy it chili-style with no bread.

For Pescatarians

  1. Roasted gulf shrimp with romesco sauce. Enjoy some spicy shrimp for supper in just 10 minutes. While the shrimp bake, assemble the tangy sauce. Then, once the tail-on shrimp turn pink, cool, dip and enjoy.
  2. Avocado tuna salad. You can layer this fun treat with salsa, shape it like sushi or spread it on bread to enjoy a doubly delectable sandwich. If you’re cutting your carbohydrate consumption, try eating this wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of atop a ciabatta bun.
  3. Striped bass with lemon zest. This dish practically screams elegance, so consider this meal for your next dinner party. Even friends and family following low-carbohydrate diets can dig into this tasty recipe. The dish is likewise both halal and kosher for those who follow particular diets out of religious duty.

For Poultry Lovers

  1. Cilantro-lime chicken. While the chicken does require a bit of time to bake, prep time takes mere minutes. The light, springlike flavor of the dish makes it pair perfectly with basmati rice or a summer squash blend. Wine drinkers can enjoy this breezy dish with their favorite sauvignon blanc.
  2. Quick chicken and rice. Freezer and cabinet items most everyone has makes it simple to represent all four food groups in one tasty skillet. Even picky little ones will chow down on this super simple recipe that takes only 15 minutes to make. Sprinkle a bit of shredded cheddar cheese on top to up the calcium quotient.
  3. Easy chicken piccata. Chicken piccata sounds restaurant-menu elegant, but you can easily whip this quick recipe together to add a touch of class to weeknight dining. Pick up some crusty French bread and a small salad for sides or heat up a steamable potato and veggie package in minutes as accompaniments.

For Carnivores

  1. Beef broccoli stir fry. This Asian staple sates your entire family’s hunger while also ensuring they consume enough vegetables. Carrots, water chestnuts, corn and peas all add crunch to this delightful dish. Serve on a bed of sticky rice.
  2. Spicy ginger pork in lettuce leaves. Those who adore lettuce wraps will gravitate to these tangy and filling treats. The dish takes less than 30 minutes to make and harnesses the smoky-sweet flavor of pork perfectly. The dish pairs with strong but sweeter reds such as zinfandels.
  3. Grilled flatiron steak with toasted spice vinaigrette. Want to impress the manly man in the household with a well-deserved steak, but without the extra cholesterol the traditional dab of butter topping brings? Give this recipe a try. The delicious dressing keeps meat moist and flavorful. Plus, its unique taste can add a kick to other dishes as well.

Keeping Cooking Simple and Easy

Far too many people think that for food to both taste delicious and pack an energy punch, someone needs to slave away in the kitchen for hours. However, those with all levels of cooking ability and dietary needs can learn to prepare simple meals that don’t come in a can or box. Try these recipes to enjoy better health and more satisfying dining.

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