I am always looking for easy healthy meals like our Pakistani Kima, Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets, Low Carb Shepherd's Pie, Healthy Hamburger Helper, and Oven Barbecued Chicken. So you know I was thrilled to get this Healthy Chili Mac Recipe from Tessa of Tessa Domestic Diva. I love Tessa's selection of healthy, attractive, and special diet friendly recipes (she's got a beautiful site as well.) I hope you enjoy this post by Tessa as she shares with us some quick, easy, and healthful options for getting dinner on the table—FAST!
I can’t tell you how many times people around me have lamented how they wish they had more time to cook and put wholesome dinners down for their family every night.
Regardless of your time constraints: it IS possible.
The key is pre-planning and picking the right recipes that cook quickly or in a crock-pot while you’re away managing your busy day.
Take a moment to organize yourself! You will be saving yourself loads of money AND eating more healthy, wholesome foods than the grab and go fare you find in most grocery stores. Best of all, you get to control what goes into your food. Let me show you how! With a little practice, this process of pre-planning should not take more than 30 minutes (unless you’re like me and adore pouring through recipe sources for pleasure!)
Tips for Easy Meals
1. I have a post on how to menu plan to help you learn how to get the ball rolling.
2. Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to take stock of items that need to be used up.
3. Pick your recipes. Avoid recipes that have long cooking times or loads of prep work, save these for weekend cooking when you may have more time.
4. Make a grocery list. Whatever recipes you pick, make a corresponding grocery list to pick up the things you do not already have on hand. As I mentioned in my above menu-planning post, I keep pre-printed grocery lists on hand for this. I group the foods I need by type and have them on my list in the order I hit them in my favorite store.
5. Grocery shop with your list in hand. STICK TO IT to ensure you are only spending money on items you’ll use. We do this as a family (even with all the “bumps” shopping with kids entails). You may prefer to do it alone. An organized list helps you move through the store efficiently, and I give my older kids jobs to help the process.
6. Enjoy your newfound health and freedom! It feels good to feed your family well, and it is entirely possible and worth it. Less stress is better for your body too…but I didn’t need to tell you that, did I?!
Here are some quick and easy recipes to get you started.
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Healthy Chili Mac (gluten free)
2 teaspoons oil (I use coconut oil)
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (See the Easiest Way to Peel Garlic)
1 pound ground meat of choice
4 tablespoons tomato paste (I LOVE this jarred paste)
1 14.5 ounce can pureed/crushed tomatoes (I used diced, but pureed them w/ my immersion blender first. The puree hides the big chunks of tomatoes that my kids won’t eat. Note from Adrienne: “Great tip!”)
2 cups beef broth, homemade or store bought (here is a great place to buy it.) (This Homemade Veggie Broth works as well.)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
2 1/2 cups gluten free-noodles (I used Tinkiyada Brown Rice Elbows. Use veggie noodles, spaghetti squash or these noodles for a low-carb option.)
1/2 cup shredded dairy-free shredded cheddar, or favorite cheddar cheese
Optional garnishes: avocado slices, pickled jalapeños, hot sauce, fresh lime, shredded cabbage
1. Preheat a 10-12″ skillet with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.
2. Add the oil.
3. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Crumble the ground meat and add in the garlic, stirring to break the meat up.
5. When browned, add in tomato paste, canned tomatoes, beef broth, oregano, and chili powder. Stir to combine.
6. Mix in the noodles. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover. Cook until the noodles are al dente, about 7-10 minutes. The noodles will continue to soak up liquid as it sits, so don’t worry if it seems thin at first.
7. Stir in cheddar shreds until melted. Serve with preferred garnishes.
TIP: Add any additional vegetables to this. I bet bell peppers, carrots, spinach, or cabbage would all be good! Here are some more quick and easy meals:
(not low carb)
More quick and easy options for those “I Don't Know What's For Dinner” moments:
(use vegetable noodles for a low carb dish)
(everyone asks for this recipe — not low carb)
(ready in as little as 9 minutes – not low carb)
What is YOUR favorite super quick meal?