Stumped about what to make for supper that is speedy AND healthy? You are not alone since this is one of the most common questions we get from our nutrition counselling clients. The good news is that healthy supper meals don’t have to take oodles of time and energy to prepare. You can prepare a fast supper meal quicker than you think. Here are some considerations to set you up for success:
What systems do I need to have in place to make supper prep easier?
INTENTIONALITY trumps all. Supper will never get easier or healthier until you have fail proof systems in place that you can repeat as habit over and over. To ease the pressure at suppertime, it is critical that you do the planning ahead of time (after all late-afternoon you are likely time crunched and it is rarely a time of day most people feel energized or really creative). To experience success, there are a few critical things to have in place:
1. Book a weekly grocery-shopping trip in your calendar
Sometimes the simplest things are the most easily neglected. Often when I ask our clients if they have a set grocery shopping appointment displayed in their calendar, few will ever say yes (instead hoping to fit it in somewhere). This is risky since unless this is booked with as much importance as a family members birthday party, it may be skipped or pushed later than ideal. The success of your supper plan depends on making sure this grocery shopping date happens!
2. Map out a meal plan for the week
Consider labeling each supper of the week with the following legend that will be based on your schedule for the week. Be reasonable with how much time you realistically have to prepare and cook food as most of our clients “bite off more than they can chew.”
5 types of supper:
• Fast – fresh single meal can be prepared and cooked/assembled within 20-30 minutes.
• Repurposed – meals that are complete leftovers or meals that use planned extras (one part is leftover with new foods added to create a different meal). Meal can be prepared and cooked/assembled within 20-30 minutes.
• Slow – fresh, single meal that will take 1 hour or more to prepare and cook.
• Big batch – fresh meals that are made in large volumes for eating again at a later date.
• Out – you are off the hook for cooking (social meals at someone else’s home, take out meals or eat out meals).
3. Develop a re-usable grocery-shopping list
Develop a good list of staple foods and fresh foods once and use it over and over. Design your list to be navigated at the most common grocery store you shop at. What works best for our family and many of our clients is to leave a stack of photocopies in the kitchen that all eaters can add to. Alternatively download a grocery shopping list app. Use this staple list to highlight the specific foods you need for this week’s supper plan (also add in items you need for breakfast, lunch and snacks).
What are some 20 minute supper ideas?
Here are 7 speedy supper meal ideas:
2. Pan fried fish (dip thin fish fillets in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs mixed with Cajun spice or your favorite herb blend). Serve with steamed fresh carrots and steamed frozen peas with a wee bit of butter.
3. Grown up grilled cheese made with whole grain bread and Brie cheese with apple slices (or aged cheddar cheese and red pepper slices). Serve with a side of sliced cucumbers and grape/cherry tomatoes with hummus.
5. BBQ chicken breasts/thighs, steak/pork tenderloin or fish. Serve with boiled baby potatoes with a dollop of sour cream and steamed broccoli/cauliflower with a little butter and raw carrots and snap peas with dip.
6. Black quesadilla (made with canned drained black/pinto beans, diced red peppers, frozen corn kernels, chopped green onion and cilantro). Serve with avocado slices/guacamole and salsa.
7. Pasta, quinoa, rice or couscous served with pan-fried shrimp with olive oil, onions and minced fresh garlic. Add diced fresh/canned tomatoes. Serve with spinach salad on the side.