Kids eat right.

Fake a Homemade Dinner

Contributors: Esther Ellis, MS, RDN, LDN and Cordialis Msora-Kasago, MA, RD and Grace Derocha, MBA, RD, CDCES
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Family meals are making a comeback, and that's good news for several reasons. Dinner may be the only time a family can get together and find out what's going on in each other's lives. That’s why families who eat together are closer. What's more, children who regularly eat with their families are more likely to have nutritious diets and get good grades in school.

No time to whip up a homemade meal? You can still enjoy all the benefits of a family dinner. Try these four speedy meals — you can dish them up without breaking a sweat.

  • Frozen ravioli with store bought sauce and a salad. A well-stocked pantry and freezer can go a long way in cutting down on last minute trips to the supermarket. Fill your pantry with go-to ingredients including your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce, whole-wheat pasta and polenta or grits. Load your freezer with ravioli, stuffed shells and manicotti. Toss together a fresh salad and dinner will never be more than 20 minutes away.
  • Rotisserie chicken, frozen mashed potatoes and peas. When it comes to frozen veggies you can lose the guilt. Flash frozen within hours of harvesting, some frozen vegetables have more nutrients than fresh. Plus, these veggies are ready in the microwave in minutes. In addition to peas, load up on edamame, carrots, corn, chopped spinach, collard greens or cabbage and even mashed potatoes. Buy vegetables without sauce and toss with a little heart-healthy olive oil.
  • Veggie burgers with a cucumber salad. A vegetarian meal doesn't have to mean hours over the stove. Keep staples such as veggie burgers and whole-wheat buns on hand for a meatless meal you can throw together on the fly. Serve with sliced cucumbers drizzled with your favorite vinaigrette.
  • Grilled chicken Caesar salad with French bread. For the ultimate healthy convenience meal, slice up store-bought grilled chicken breasts and toss with hearts of romaine and light Caesar dressing. If you have a few minutes to spare, bake up a loaf of frozen whole-wheat dinner rolls or French bread and the house will smell like you've been baking all afternoon.
  • Fried Rice. Use mixed frozen vegetables and leftover rice to create a fried rice dish in minutes. If you don’t have rice, use leftover buckwheat noodles. Throw in some cooked lentils or scrambled egg for extra protein. 

Bon Appetit!