What do top sports nutritionists recommend as quick and easy dinners to make for a family meal after an afternoon practice or game?
To make life easy for a family always on the go, we've compiled a list from the responses MomsTEAM got for a recent blog series on nutrition and put them all in one place (after all, it can't be quick-and-easy if you have to read all the blogs!):
Leslie Bonci loves bowls containing layers of:
- brown rice or noodles
- salad greens
- chicken breast, meat, tofu, fish or shrimp
- fruit (pineapple)
- sprinkled with almonds and an Asian sesame dressing.
- steamed rice from a small rice cooker
- grilled salmon seasoned with a little sea salt, pepper, dill and lemon or a prepared teriyaki sauce
- steamed veggies rinsed, seasoned with a little olive oil, garlic powder, pepper and fresh lemon and zapped for a few minutes in the microwave with a tablespoon or two of water, and
- for dessert, fresh fruit, whatever is in season (rinse some red grapes, strawberries or dice a melon)
Valerie Berkowitz asks if there is there anything easier than a BBQ? She suggests:
- a grilled cheeseburger of natural meet from grass-fed meat without excess hormones or antibiotics (or nitrite free hot dogs, chicken or steak)
- broccoli, carrots, celery sticks and cucumbers with guacamole
- baked sweet potato fries, and
- essence flavored water.
Patty James says a quick-and-easy dinner after a busy day is truly that only if you have prepared. She recommends having veggies always washed/dried/cut or sliced in the refrigerator and a protein source (eggs, poultry, cold-water fish such as salmon and trout; vegetarians should have brown rice and other grains as well as a selection of beans available). For menu ideas, Patty suggests
- Baked or sautéed chicken or fish, while you re-heat brown rice and steam veggies (25 minutes);
- Brown rice and beans with salsa, avocado slices and sautéed veggies (25 minutes).
- Whole-grain pasta with olive oil and garlic-throw some veggies in with the pasta to save time and dishes. Add white beans or shrimp or chicken if you like. 20 minutes.
- A big green salad with veggies of every color with hard boiled eggs and/or garbanzo beans. If the lettuce and veggies are prepped and eggs are hardboiled, this dinner will take 10 minutes!
Jill Castle has a couple of great dinner menu ideas:
- Stir fry previously frozen shrimp and pre-cut veggies from the grocery store in olive oil, garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, served over rice or pasta
- Fire up the crock pot in the morning with a bean and beef chili-it will be ready and waiting later on.
- Pasta: just remember to add a protein source such as lean meat (chicken), beans (cannelloni), or cheese (mozzarella).
Dave Ellis says the best thing to do is come home and find the protein in the crock pot (say, for instance, whole chicken) and ready to serve. Now just pull a carb source (baby red potatoes, which you could already have cooked in the slow cooker) and some fresh produce into the mix and you have a meal! Add a quick salad or steamed vegetable, and you are in business. Add fresh berries and Greek yogurt for a protein snack/dessert.
Jennifer McDaniel is another one who says bust out that crockpot!! Crockpots/slow cookers is the answered prayer for busy families. Buy a slow cooker cookbook and let your family take turns in picking out new recipes to try. An involved athlete in the kitchen is an empowered eater and will most likely be open to try new and healthy foods.
Allison Maurer's favorite is rotisserie chicken from the grocery store because it can be used to make so many different quick meals. Besides just carving it up and serving it with rice and frozen veggies as a side, you can shred it and use it:
- to make tacos or quesadillas
- put it in a salad,
- in a casserole, or
- on pizza (pre-made wheat crust with BBQ sauce, chicken and part-skim mozzarella cheese); or
Martha McKittrick is a big fan of pasta - whole wheat if possible. Add some veggies, sauce (tomato, oil and garlic or pesto) and a protein source (ground turkey or lean beef, tofu, beans, seafood or cheese) and you've got a complete meal. It's a quick, tasty and inexpensive meal that will help to replete glycogen stores and repair muscles post workout.
Posted October 26, 2012; updated March 28, 2015