Meals in Minutes by Karen Williams

Cooking a full three-course meal a la “The Brady Bunch” or “Leave it to Beaver” is a nice idea, but it just isn’t realistic for today’s working mother. By the same token, nobody wants to raise their kids on pizza, fast food, and frozen chicken nuggets day in and day out. For that reason, here are a couple of quick tips on meals that can be prepared with little time and less fuss.

First, pasta is always an easy shortcut. It’s not the healthiest solution by itself, but tomato sauce is a nutritious addition that heats up in minutes. It also helps that pasta can boil relatively unsupervised (provided the kids are suitably distracted in another room).

Chef salads and bread are another easy make, and the supplies are easy to find. Lettuce, cheese, tomato, cucumber, and lunch meat all work as healthy, solid ingredients. An added bonus is letting the kids put together their own salads. All the ingredients are good for them, so it’s only a little compromising (no meat-and-cheese-only salads here!) away from a fun activity with a nutritious end.

Multi-use recipes are also helpful. Take meatballs, for example. If you use a similar recipe for meatballs that you do for meatloaf, you can make one big batch on a weekend night. Roll and spread accordingly, and you’ve got two pre-planned meals for later in the week. Add the meatballs to the aforementioned pasta and tomato sauce, and heat up a can of vegetables and an easy potato mix for the meatloaf.

Chicken breasts are another good universal food. You can drop them in Italian dressing once you buy them and throw them in the oven when you need a fast meal. You can also just drop them in a pan with some Cream of Mushroom soup, or coat them in barbecue sauce. Each preparation takes about two minutes including unwrapping and pouring time, and the final result is an easy-bake meal with a wide variety of suitable side dishes.

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