If you’re like most families, preparing weeknight meals may seem like a dream. And while I do admit, it is tough to come home from a long day at work and cook, family meals really should be a priority. Research indicates that families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence, enhanced vocabulary skills and score higher on academic tests. With all of these benefits, make family meal time a necessary part of your day.
Plan ahead – Planning meals in advance saves you time and allows you the opportunity to pack your meal with an extra nutritional punch. There is nothing worse than roaming around the grocery store not knowing what you’re going to purchase. With a plan, you’re in and you’re out!
Take inventory – What do you already have on hand? Are there left-overs in the fridge that can turn into a second meal? Left over veggies for instance can turn into a veggie omelet or pasta primavera. Consider making double tonight for a ready made meal tomorrow.
Get the kids involved – Kids are more likely to eat foods they took part in selecting. Ask your child to help you plan weekly meals; this will give them something to look forward to, especially if it is a favorite dish.
Cook together – Cooking a meal together gets everyone involved and can also entice kids to try new foods, bolster their self-esteem, and promote healthy habits. Even in a rush, adults can take charge of the entrée, older kids can prepare the salad and little ones can set the table.
Don’t forget the conversation! – Reduce distractions by turning off the TV; cell phones should be put down away from the table. Dinner conversation is one of the easiest and best ways to hear about your child’s day and foster a connection between the two of you.
Speedy supper tip: Cook brown rice on the weekend, place in a freezer bag and freeze. During the week, defrost a portion of what you will use for dinner – this way your rice is ready to go when you are!
Beef Burrito with Pepper Jack Cheese and Black Beans
Makes 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 9 min
- 1/2 pound ground beef sirloin
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup chunky salsa, divided
- 2 cups cooked brown or white rice
- 6 (9-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (11-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
- 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- 1/3 cup sliced green onion, including green tops
- In a medium non-stick skillet, brown ground beef and garlic over medium heat; (break beef mixture up into smaller chunks with a spoon). Drain fat and stir in 1/2 cup of the salsa; set aside.
- Place burritos in a microwave oven and heat 1 minute or until heated through.
- Spread 1/3 cup of rice on center of a tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
- Scatter about 2 tablespoons of beans and 1 1/2 tablespoons of corn over rice. Spread 1/3 cup of the beef mixture and 1/4 cup of the cheese over corn. Top with 2 teaspoons of the salsa and a few pieces of green onion.
- Fold in two opposite edges of tortilla one inch each and roll up. Place, seam side down, on microwave safe dish. Repeat with remaining tortilla. Serve with remaining salsa.
Nutritional Facts: Calories: 450 | Total Fat: 16 g | Saturated Fat: 8 g | Cholesterol: 65 mg | Sodium: 900 mg | Calcium: 25% Daily Value | Protein: 26 g | Carbohydrates: 59 g | Dietary Fiber: 8 g
By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA