On-the-Fly Meals — for Days Without a Plan

Even when life is super hectic, you can end the day with a healthy, kid-friendly meal


You might already have an quick, healthy meal in your fridge.

Image provided by Shutterstock

We’ve all been there. It’s a week to end all weeks and the meal plan just never gets done. So, what will you do? There are ways to survive an unplanned week of family meals, although it will probably not be pretty. To put good nutrition at the center of your plate, even during a hectic, no-meal-plan week, try one or more of these strategies:

Meal option 1

  • Stop by the grocery store.
  • Buy a frozen cheese pizza, frozen green beans, and a cut-up container of fruit
  • Cook the pizza at home along with the vegetable
  • Have the cut-up fruit for dessert

Meal option 2

  • Stop by grocery store.
  • Buy a cooked Rotisserie chicken, box of chicken flavored couscous, cut up 'dipping' vegetables such as baby carrots or sweet Bell peppers and dip.
  • Cut up the chicken at home
  • Cook the couscous according to directions on box (simple, takes only 5-10 min, start to finish)
  • Put out veggies with dip

Meal option 3

  • Stop by grocery store or a deli-style restaurant
  • Buy a submarine sandwich on whole wheat bread, with turkey or roast beef & lettuce/tomato
  • Buy a bag of healthier chips such as whole grain Sun Chips
  • Open a can of fruit for dessert, layered with vanilla yogurt

Meal Option 4 (If your pantry is well-stocked then you will have success!)

  • Look through your pantry for a box of pasta, pasta sauce, any canned vegetable and any canned fruit.
  • Cook the pasta and heat the sauce.
  • Heat the canned vegetable.
  • Open the canned fruit, or find frozen fruit in your freezer. Thaw it halfway for dessert.

Meal Option 5 (If your fridge & freezer are well-stocked then you will have success!)

  • Look in your fridge for fresh eggs to scramble
  • Look in your fridge for any fresh fruit to cut up and mix into a salad
  • Look in your freezer for toaster waffles (whole grain is best)
  • Look in your freezer for turkey sausage, pork sausage or veggie sausage
  • ​Make Breakfast-for-Dinner!

Cindy Silver, one of our Fit Family Challenge experts, is a registered dietitian in Winston Salem who believes that simple food and home cooking are at the core of a healthy life. Her nutrition education business guides clients in a flavorful and fun, step-by-step journey to healthier eating. Cindy teaches hands-on, everyday skills and strategies in tasty menu planning, smart grocery shopping and nutritious home cooking, which may sound simple but, in reality, are not. With practice, Cindy believes that everyone can improve their personal and family nutrition, one step at a time. Visit her website at marketbasketnutrition.com.

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