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Families are busy these days! Parents are working all day. When the work day is over, there are football and soccer games, karate class, errands and lots more to be done. Having dinner together as a family is sometimes hard to do. Here are three reasons to plan to have dinner together often:
- Children who eat together with their family eat more fruits and vegetables and calcium rich foods (like milk) and drink less soda.
- Parents are role models. Children learn to make healthy choices when they see you enjoying them. Family meals help children learn social skills such as table manners and conversation. Children learn about their family and culture at the dinner table.
- Studies show that children who eat with their family often have fewer drug and alcohol problems.
What makes a healthy dinner?
For most of us, dinner is the main meal of the day. But, the experts say that our dinner is shrinking. We are cooking fewer side dishes. Dinner is a great time to add more fruits and vegetables because they are easy to prepare. They are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables can be inexpensive. Buy them in season or use frozen or canned fruits and vegetables when fresh vegetables are high in price. Dinner is a great time to serve milk. Studies show that children are drinking lots of soda and less low fat milk. The result is more broken bones and too many calories.
A healthy dinner includes:
- A meat or protein food
- 2 servings of bread or starch (whole grain-think brown-is best)
- 2 servings of fruits and vegetables
- An 8 ounce glass of nonfat or 1% reduced fat milk
How can I put a healthy dinner on the table with limited time?
A survey found that 3 out of 4 adults do not decide what they will eat that night until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. If you plan ahead, it makes cooking easier. It also saves you money. The more times you go to the store each week, the more money you will spend.
Here, you will find four complete weeks of healthy menus, shopping lists and recipes that are easy to prepare.
Use the following steps to get you started:
- Read the menus.
- Check the list of staples to make sure that you have these items on your shelves.
- Read the shopping list and add any items that you will need for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
- Take the list to the store with you and stick to it.
- Post the menu for the week on the refrigerator door so that you can see it easily.
These menus were planned with these healthy habits in mind:
- The Sunday dinner includes a roast or large meat item. Save the leftovers. It will be used for another dinner later in the week.
- A meal without meat is included each week. Meals featuring beans or pasta with vegetables and cheese are tasty and healthy too.
- A meal with fish is included. Though fish may seem to be costly, there is very little waste. Fish is also good for your heart. It has Omega 3 fatty acids.
Recipes for Week1
Recipes for Week 2
Recipes for Week 3
Recipes for Week 4
We hope you will enjoy these healthy menus and recipes. For more recipes click here.
- 4 (4 ounce) boneless pork chops
- Salt and pepper
- 1 medium green pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 3/4 cup bottled barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a no stick skillet with nonstick spray. Place over medium heat. Season chops with salt and pepper. Add pork chops; brown on both sides. Transfer chops to a shallow baking dish. Slice green pepper. Peel and slice onion. Pour barbecue sauce over chops, top with sliced onion and pepper. Cover pan with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until chops are tender.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 257 calories. Fat: 11 grams. Sodium: 643 milligrams. Fiber: 1.4 grams.
Notes: For persons with diabetes, use homemade barbecue sauce that does not contain sugar. Most commercial barbecue sauces are high in sugar.
- 1 (16 ounce) package potato and onion pierogies, thawed
- 1/2 cup slivered onion
- 1 (16 ounce) package coleslaw mix (preshredded cabbage and carrot)
- 3/4 cup ready to serve vegetable broth
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Spray a nonstick skillet with no stick spray. Place over medium heat. Spray peirogies with no stick spray; place in skillet. Cook until lightly browned. Turn; add 1/4 cup water. Cook until water evaporates and pierogies are browned. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Clean skillet; spray with no stick spray; place over medium heat. Add onion; saute until limp. Add coleslaw mix and saute 4 minutes. Add vegetable broth and simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve cabbage topped with pierogies. Garnish with non fat sour cream, if desired.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 226 calories. Fat: 2.5 grams. Sodium: 628 milligrams. Fiber: 4.5 grams.
- 4 (4 oz.) tilapia fillets or other firm white fish
- 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Place fish on greased grill over medium coals or rack of broiler pan 2 to 4 inches from heat. Brush with 1/2 of dressing mixture. Grill or broil 5 to 8 minutes. Turn; brush with remaining dressing mixture. Continue grilling or broiling 5 to 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 157 calories. Fat: 4.5 grams. Sodium: 212 milligrams. Fiber: 0 grams.
- 1/2 cup fat free ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. dried dill weed
- Salt free garlic flavored seasoning, to taste
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
- 1 cup chopped, peeled and seeded cucumber
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
In a large bowl, combine ranch dressing, mayonnaise, dill and salt free garlic flavored seasoning. Mix well. Add macaroni and vegetables and toss to coat well. Cover and chill.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 242 calories. Fat: 7 grams. Sodium: 372 milligrams. Fiber: 2 grams.
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen low fat creamed spinach
- 2 cups cooked noodles (left from Sunday)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) diced turkey ham
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spinach according to package directions. Spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with no stick spray. Combine noodles, ham, spinach and sour cream. Mix well. Spoon into casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 245 calories. Fat: 6 grams. Sodium: 791 milligrams. Fiber: 2.1 grams.
- 3/4 lb. extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 4 pita bread pockets
Spray a no stick skillet with nonstick spray. Place over medium heat. Add ground beef, green pepper and onion. Saute until onion is limp and ground beef is lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients, stir well and heat through. Cut a 1 inch piece from the top of the pita bread. Open pocket with your fingers. Warm pita in the microwave oven. Spoon meat mixture into pita and serve.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 261 calories. Fat: 8 grams. Sodium: 438 milligrams. Fiber: 2.8 grams.
- 2 apples, cored and diced
- 2 Tbsp. diced celery
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup low fat or fat free sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
- Lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, toss apples, celery, walnuts and raisins. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream and powdered sugar; pour over fruit and lightly toss. Serve on lettuce leaves.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 145 calories. Fat: 3 grams. Sodium: 561 milligrams. Fiber: 3.4 grams.
Notes: For persons with diabetes, omit powdered sugar from the recipe.
- 1 (13.2 ounce) refrigerated Italian bread dough
- 1/4 cup light Pesto sauce
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup slivered roasted red pepper strips
- 1 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza crust on a large baking sheet. Spread with pesto. Sprinkle chicken and peppers evenly over crust. Top with cheese. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 427 calories. Fat: 13 grams. Sodium: 918 milligrams. Fiber: .5 grams.