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10 Quick Things to Make for Dinner When You’re Way Too Tired

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After a long day, sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook. When you gotta eat but don’t want to resort to takeout, you need quick things to make for dinner at your fingertips. Whether you love to throw down in the kitchen or can’t tell a parsnip from a rutabaga, these quick recipes will help you get dinner on the table in a flash.

1. Get the family to eat their veggies with spaghetti and kale

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Sneak veggies into a pasta dish. | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

Do your kids hate kale? They won’t when they meet it in this rich, garlicky pasta dish. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio adds a hearty helping of kale to pasta with garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with Parmesan for that umami hit. Don’t worry — the metric ton of kale will all cook down as it goes. As easy dinner ideas go, this one is simple and healthy.

2. These chicken tacos come with a shortcut

 

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Use a rotisserie chicken. | iStock.com/amberleeknight

If you need to get dinner on the table pronto, forget about takeout. These easy chicken tacos will satisfy your cravings without the sodium bomb that comes in many fast food Mexican meals. Pick up a rotisserie chicken on the way home to make it even simpler, or grill up some chicken thighs. They’ll be done by the time you finish assembling the other ingredients.

3. Salmon and fennel salad is fresh and simple

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Fish cooks quickly. | iStock/Getty Images

Think fish is too fancy for a Tuesday? Think again! Salmon roasts to perfection in under 15 minutes, making this one a regular in our quick things to make for dinner rotation. You can even spend that time tossing together this quick and healthy cucumber and fennel salad. Add a side of rye bread for a Nordic-inspired nosh. Want to make it even quicker? Make the salad the night before and let the flavors meld, then you can take a breather while the salmon finishes.

4. Indulge your inner child with baked chicken strips

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It’s easier than you think. | fotyma/iStock/Getty Images

Once you try breading and baking your own chicken fingers, you will never go back to the frozen variety. Seasoning the panko breadcrumbs with lemon zest and herbs give them a nice zing, and mustard sauce on side makes for delicious dipping. Feel free to tone down the spice to make them more kid-friendly, or play with the profile to fit your preferences. Make a big batch: This easy dinner idea will keep for awhile in the refrigerator.

5. 1-pot cheesy tortellini saves time at the sink

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Don’t spend all night washing dishes. | iStock.com/EzumeImages

The best weeknight dinners save time on both ends of the meal — prep time and cleaning up. This easy, cheesy tortellini dish will satisfy your comfort food cravings, all in one pot. The savory ham and velvety cheese pumps up the pasta better than plain sauce, while sneaking some healthy veggies into your diet. It’s a win-win all around.

6. Hamburger casserole will satisfy your cheese cravings

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It’s a comfort dish. | iStock.com/bhofack2

If your family loves boxed casserole starters like Hamburger Helper, do we have a recipe for you. This gooey hamburger casserole tastes even better than the box, without all of those hard-to-pronounce additives. Since it also uses canned tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup as the base, you may already have the ingredients on hand. A delicious dinner without a trip to the store? We’re all in.

7. Make your own black bean burrito bowls in no time

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Think outside the tortilla. | iStock.com/rainingphotos

Think outside the wrap with these speedy black bean burrito bowls. Quick-cooking or frozen rice makes them even faster. You can substitute your family’s favorite burrito protein for the black beans, or add in any toppings you prefer. In the time it takes to say “order up,” you can get chowing down. Stash this one in your quick things to make for dinner file — the variations are endless.

8. Shake up some fun with these baked pork chops

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Just shake and bake. | iStock.com/valeniker

Get your little ones in on the act with these baked pork chops. Just measure all of the topping ingredients into a large plastic bag, toss in the chops, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. While they spend half an hour baking, toss together a simple side for a well-rounded meal that looks a lot harder than it is.

9. Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese is Mmm-Mmm good

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The simple soup comes together quickly. | iStock.com/tvirbickis

If the words “homemade soup” make you think of slaving over a long simmer stove, this recipe will change your mind. This simple tomato soup recipe comes together in just over half an hour and it’s easy enough to let the kids help. Whip up a batch of grilled cheese sandwiches for dipping and you have a warming classic meal on your hands. Pro tip: Grill the sandwiches with mayonnaise instead of butter for the crunchiest, crispiest exterior.

10. Steak dinner in a sitcom worth of time? You betcha

 

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It’s quick, easy, and satisfying. | iStock.com/Lisovskaya

Yes, you can make this steak and veggies skillet in the amount of time it takes your family to finish an episode of their favorite show. By the time they come asking about chow, you can slide this easy weeknight dinner onto the table. Peas and asparagus brighten up the rich protein, and mustard sauce gives it all a great zing. For sensitive palates, go ahead and omit the cayenne.

 

 

This article was written by Lizz Schumer from The Cheat Sheet and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What Nutritionists Give Their Kids For After-School Snacks

“An afternoon snack at our house is usually either a smoothie or fruit with protein, such as apples with peanut butter or orange and cheese slices. Other favorites include yogurt-based Popsicles, trail mix or homemade popcorn.” ― Kath Younger, a registered dietitian and blogger at Kath Eats Real Food 

“For an after-school snack, my kids have enjoyed fresh fruit like banana or any combination of cut-up cantaloupe and grapes and berries (e.g., raspberries, blueberries or strawberries) plus warm cashews. They’ve also enjoyed Triscuits and cheese, and plain low-fat yogurt with berries, or unsweetened applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon.” ― Elisa Zied, a certified dietitian nutritionist and author of Feed Your Family Right!

Fruit

A group of nutritionists shared the general guidelines and kid-approved picks they use in their own homes for after-school snacks.

But how do you choose a snack for your kids that will fill them up enough to stop the “when’s dinner ready?” nagging without spoiling their appetites or loading them up on empty calories. 

The lag between lunch at school and dinner at home can feel like a lifetime to kids. The after-school snack, therefore, is a time-honored tradition in many homes. 

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Jupiterimages via Getty Images

Nutritionists share the go-to snacks they feed their kids.

“Since my kids are 12, 10, 7 and 5, they do a pretty good job of getting their own after-school snacks from the fruit bowl or the snack cupboard containing: graham crackers, peanut butter, pecans, raisins, prunes and peanuts in the shell. The big thing I encourage is drinking water or herbal tea with a drizzle of honey. They don’t get much time to drink many liquids at school. Tea with honey helps them drink more to stay hydrated in the winter and chilly spring when they aren’t ‘hot and thirsty’ like in the summer. Plus the honey soothes their sore throats when they have colds and has antioxidant polyphenols, which may help boost their immunity to prevent future colds.” ― Serena Ball, a registered dietitian and health blogger at Teaspoon Of Spice 

Tea

“I’m a big believer in the concept of small, frequent eating. Many schools start lunch too early in the day and don’t have opportunities for eating after that. If kids are starting lunch at 10:30 a.m. and don’t have dinner until 6 p.m., after-school snacks should be an option. I prefer to fill them up on vegetables and fruits during this time of day, with moderate amounts of proteins and fats that can be obtained from a slice of cheese, peanut butter or milk. Generally, kids don’t eat enough produce, so my children are typically offered sliced bell peppers or cucumbers with hummus or cheese.” ― Rick Hall, a clinical professor and registered dietitian at Arizona State University

“Some of our favorite after-school snacks are cut-up vegetables (carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes) and hummus as a dip.” ― Katja Leccisi, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of How To Feed Your Kids: Four Steps To Raising Healthy Eaters 

Hummus

“My kids love apple “nachos,” which are sliced apples, melted nut butter with a sprinkle of dried cranberries and chia seeds.” ― Lauren Kelly, a nutritionist and author of The Everything Wheat-Free Diet Cookbook

“I always offer an after-school snack to my boys each day. If I don’t, the cries of ‘Mom! When is dinner going to be ready?’ start earlier than my sanity can handle. I try to focus on a balance of protein and carbs, offering a variety of choices throughout the week, and I try to make sure it includes fruit to help boost their fruit/veggie count for the day. That may mean a combo of cheese and apple slices, peanut butter and banana or even something like a simple trail mix of whole-grain cereal, raisins and nuts.” ― Regan Jones, a registered dietitian and founding editor at Healthy Aperture

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Natalie Board/EyeEm via Getty Images

Apples with peanut butter or cheese is one snack option.

“I have four kids ages 10 to 17, and I give them various snacks. I sometimes make organic air-popped popcorn with Himalayan pink salt and Barlean’s butter-flavored coconut oil.” ― Rebecca H. Lazar, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Real Health and Fitness

Popcorn

“My kids love chocolate avocado mousse and of course peanut butter chocolate chip energy bites!” ― Kelly

“The old-fashioned favorite is homemade cookies (ginger, chocolate chip or oatmeal) with a glass of milk or hot chocolate.” ― Leccisi

Treats

“After-school snacks can be tricky because you don’t want them to eat so much that they’re not hungry for what’s probably their main meal of the day … When my kids played sports, after school they needed a heartier but high-carb snack such as a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt, oats, a few nuts or peanut butter powder, a grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk.” ― Bridget Swinney, a registered dietitian and founder of Eat Right Mama

Carbs

“After school, my kids will grab a yogurt or a few cookies, but I generally serve them dinner around 4:30 p.m. so they aren’t snacking for hours between getting home and having their next meal! That’s my strategy, but I work from home, so this method won’t work for everyone.” ― Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and founder of Abby Langer Nutrition

“A favorite is fruit and yogurt, either separately, as a dip, or in a sort of ‘parfait.’” ― Leccisi

“I make low-fat Greek yogurt dips with fresh or dried herbs. The herbs provide potent antioxidants and lots of flavor without added salt. My daughter also loves red bell pepper slices or baby sweet peppers with dip.” ― Melissa Halas-Liang, registered dietitian and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

Yogurt

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Vesna Jovanovic/EyeEm via Getty Images

Tea can help with hydration.

“My daughter is 13 and prefers to make her own snacks. Her two go-tos are half a baked sweet potato drizzled with natural peanut butter and a side of mixed berries or apple slices with almond butter and cacao powder sprinkled on top.” ― Jacqueline Carly, an integrative and functional nutritionist and creator of Get Planty

Sweet Potato

“My daughter isn’t a big milk fan, so I often make low-fat milk and add a little sugar and vanilla extract. I use a tiny handheld milk frother. It makes it seem fancy but it takes seconds to make and it’s easy to wash. I’ll serve that with any fresh or frozen fruit (served cold).” ― Halas-Liang

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A baked sweet potato can be the base for a snack.

The Picture Pantry via Getty Images

Milk

“Sometimes I’ll make a vegan chocolate protein shake with banana and almond butter or another type of smoothie … Other snacks are cut-up fruit, or Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt with organic granola added as a topping.” ― Lazar

Protein Shake

“If we are on the go I’ll split a peanut butter sandwich between my toddlers. I always try to pair a protein choice with either a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain so the snack isn’t too filling, but is just enough to hold my children over until dinnertime.” ― Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian and founder of Mom to Mom Nutrition

Peanut Butter

“A classic is a peanut butter sandwich. Other favorites include fruit pieces like apple or pear with peanut butter as a dip or spread and crackers with cheddar cheese and fruit pieces (apples, pears or clementines), with some olives and pickles on the side.” ― Leccisi 

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KidStock via Getty Images

Air-popped popcorn can be a fun snack.

Sandwich

“If my teenage boys are really hungry, I’ll make an organic mozzarella sandwich with whole-grain spelt bread.” ― Lazar

Soup

“I meal prep soup every week, so sometimes they’ll have a cup of that if it’s ready at the right time.” ― Alaya Wyndham, an intuitive holistic nutritionist

Car-Friendly Food

“I have three kids, and they all have slightly different food preferences. We generally pick them up with the minivan, at least in the winter months, so I choose snacks that are both nutritious as well as non-messy. For my 3-year-old, I often bring shelled pistachios in a snack cup or a banana. My 6-year-old son is ravenous by the time we get him, so I’ll bring him a cheese stick and a granola bar or goodnessKnows snack squares, something with protein. My almost 9-year-old is a carb lover and also gets car sick easily, so I bring her some type of cheddar cracker or veggie chips. She also really likes dried seaweed. When it’s hot outside, they tend to be more thirsty than hungry, so an organic juice, like Capri Sun, is often what I’ll bring them.” ― Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating in Color

‘Mini Meals’

“Snacking has definitely taken on some negative connotations since typical snack foods tend to be synonymous with foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, I am actually a big proponent of snacks as a way to maintain energy levels and satiate hunger between meals. I think of snacks as mini-meals, meaning, smaller portions but still containing a healthful variety of foods. When it comes to after-school snacks, I generally stick to the following criteria: no more than 200 calories, at least 2 grams of fiber per serving, low in saturated fat (percentage daily value of 5 percent or less per serving), low in sodium (140 milligrams or less per serving), low in added sugar (6 grams or less per serving) and at least two food groups per snack.” ― Ilaria St. Florian, a clinical dietitian at Stamford Hospital

These quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

 

This article was written by Caroline Bologna from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Encourage Outside-The-Box Thinking in Your Preschooler

A fantastic way to get your little one to think outside the box is with cooking.

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For example, you can make numerous different croissant dishes with a simple roll of the dough. Unfold each section from the packaged roll and form it into an individual triangle. Once it is face open, ask your child what to add to the middle. There are a ton of possibilities; following are three examples:

  1. Add a piece of ham and a piece of cheese, and then roll the dough for a delicious ham and cheese sandwich.
  2. Add pepperoni and cheese, and serve with a tomato sauce dip to create a mini-croissant pizza.
  3. Add shredded chicken and bacon and serve with ranch.

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Another way to encourage your child to think outside the box is with riddles.

  1. A man went on a trip riding his horse. He left on Friday, stayed in town for three days and came back on Friday. How did he do it?  Answer: His horse’s name is Friday
  2. What has three hands, but cannot clap? Answer: a clock

Chocolate-Banana Yogurt Sundae

Spruce up snack time or dessert with this delicious chocolate-banana yogurt sundae!

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Ingredients

  • Non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Banana
  • Shredded coconut

Spoon a desired amount of yogurt into a dish. Slice up the banana, and place the slices in the yogurt. Then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the sundae.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Hot Chocolate Recipe

A cold winter night and a cup of hot cocoa fit perfectly together for any occasion. Have a cozy night at home with your little one and share some silly stories over a cup of hot chocolate. Turn off all the lights except one and make shadows on the walls with your hands to put on a shadow-puppet show with your child. Read stories together or make up your own tales!

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Spice up your cup by following this recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 2 packs of cocoa mix
  • A handful of mini-marshmallows
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • A topping of whipped cream

Directions

Heat up a cup of milk and add two packs of cocoa mix for that extra-delicious chocolate taste. Then, mix your ingredients well. Next, add a handful of marshmallows and a dash of cinnamon. Finish with a squirt of whipped cream on top.

What are your children’s favorite additions to their hot chocolate?

Apple Ring Cookies

Give snack time some healthy zest with these apple ring cookies!

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Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • Your choice of nut- or seed-based butter
  • Raisins
  • Sliced almonds
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Shredded coconut

Slice apple into thin rings and remove core from each ring. Spread nut butter on one side of ring. Top with almonds, walnuts, raisins and coconut. Feel free to substitute chocolate chips for the raisins and/or chocolate-hazelnut spread for the nut butter.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Pita Nachos

Need to make an after-school snack? Pita nachos make for a quick, satisfying treat.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole wheat pita
  • Salsa
  • Grated cheddar cheese

Split pita into two rounds, then cut into wedges. Lay the wedges on a cookie sheet, then broil in an oven for a few minutes until golden. Sprinkle wedges with cheese and salsa, then broil again until cheese melts.

 

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

 

Ice Cream Grahamwich!

Make summer last longer with these simple and delicious “ice cream” grahamwiches!

Ingredients

  • Graham Crackers
  • Whipped Topping
  • Plastic Wrap

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1.  Spread a dollop of whipped topping on a graham cracker.

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2.  Top with another graham cracker.

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3.  Wrap each grahamwich in plastic wrap and freeze it.

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4.  When it is completely frozen, unwrap and enjoy your ice cream grahamwich!

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DIY Banana Chips

Many store-bought banana chips are loaded with added sugar and fat. Follow these simple instructions to make healthy banana chips at home.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Slice the banana (or bananas, depending on how many chips you want) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, and lay them on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F for two to three hours or until golden. Then let the chips harden at room temperature. Enjoy them as is or serve with nut butter. For an extra kick of sweetness, brush lemon juice on the banana slices before baking.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

 

Bean and Cheese Tacos

Looking for a quick and easy dinner idea? Please adults and children alike with these bean and cheese tacos!

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Ingredients

  • 15-oz can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • Taco shells (hard or soft)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, then heat 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spoon the bean mixture into each taco shell, top with lettuce and cheese.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.