Minute meals for your kitchen

By Laura Schmidt RD, LD

We have all been there. You get home from a long day and you are hungry! You don’t want to take the time to make dinner, so you just end up ordering food to go. And while that idea may be fine every once in a while, if it becomes a daily routine, it may cost you and your family an extra notch in the belt loop. Studies show that individuals who eat out daily are taking in at least 200 extra calories a day.

Many barriers may get in the way from cooking at home such as being short on time, having limited resources, or having a lack of knowledge. But you don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to make meals that are quick and healthy. With September being National Family Meals Month, it’s the perfect time to get back into the habit of cooking for you and your family.

The first step to dining-in is planning ahead. Take one morning or afternoon to plan your meals for the week. Look at what evenings you and your family will all be at home together to enjoy a meal. Check your pantry and see what ingredients you have and then make a list of the remaining items that you need.

Next, prep as much as you can beforehand. Having meat already cut up and cooked can be a huge time saver when preparing a meal. The same can be done to your fruits and vegetables; when you get home from the store, wash them before you put them in the fridge or pantry. That way everything is ready to go when needed.

Here are some other tips for creating a meal in a minute:

1. Use your slow-cooker. Although it takes between 6-8 hours to cook, putting the ingredients in the slow-cooker before you leave for the day only takes a minute and then a meal is ready to eat right when you get home. Simply throw in a protein source such as beef, chicken, or pork, add a little bit of liquid such as chicken broth, juice, soy sauce, or any other of your favorite flavorings. Add in a dash of seasonings and some cut vegetables to make it a complete meal.

2. Use fresh convenience foods. Your Hy-Vee store offers precut fruits and vegetables to help you save time when you’re making a meal at home.

3. Ask your Hy-Vee dietitian or chef or visit www.hy-vee.com for more information about quick 15-minute meal recipes.

4. Check the store for “DISH to Go” meals. These are meals that have all the ingredients already put together for you by your chef and dietitian. All you have to do is cook according to the enclosed directions. Coming soon, New Ulm Hy-Vee will be offering DISH Classes. It is a meal-prep program where at the end of each class, each customer goes home with a cooler full of ready-to-eat meals that can be placed in the freezer and defrosted when needed.

5. Find recipes with five ingredients or less. The less ingredients, the less prep work. Try this open-face egg sandwich for a quick meal any time of the day!

Open-Face Egg Sandwich

Serves 1

All you need:

1 Hy-Vee large egg, beaten

1/2 cup Hy-Vee diced low-fat Swiss cheese (2 oz)

2 tbsp snipped fresh chives or 2 tsp dried

1 slice Hy-Vee multigrain bread, toasted

2 slices tomato

All you do:

1. Coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add egg and cook, without stirring, until the egg starts to set around the edges, about 30 seconds. Add cheese and chives and cook, folding the cheese into the egg, until fluffy and set, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more. Place on toast and top with tomato.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 262 calories, 10g fat, 4g saturated fat, 206mg cholesterol, 321mg sodium, 16g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 4g sugars, 26g protein.

Daily values: 19% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 61% calcium, 10% iron.

Source: adapted from EatingWell, Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.