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Meal Shortcuts--Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas for When You Don't Have Time to Cook: Chicken Dinner

People are very busy these days. Long days at work or school, time spent commuting, shuttling children to activities, and attending appointments... these all cut into our time to prepare food for ourselves and our families. Many patients tell me that they rely on takeout because they don't have time to cook meals from scratch. They want quick and easy dinner ideas for those hectic nights.


Dinner does not have to be all or nothing. There are more options than a completely from-scratch meal and takeout. What if we can rely on some meal shortcuts to get a nutritious meal on the table? These quick and easy dinner ideas can help you get food ready quickly.


Here, I will suggest a protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable that together can make an adequately nutritious meal for most people. Are there any nutritional downsides to any of these foods? Probably, but it also does not matter. Nutrition is not about perfection. It's not an all or nothing concept. Nutrition is about feeding ourselves and our families food that tastes good, feels satisfying, and maintains our health.

bowl of steamed broccoli


Rotisserie chicken is an wonderful time saving dish. Depending on the size, it can feed 6-8 people. That could mean dinner plus leftovers for a few nights! If you get it still warm, it can go right on the table for dinner. Leftovers can be used in a soup, on a sandwich, or over a salad. From a nutrition standpoint, rotisserie chicken is a great source of protein to help you stay full after the meal. Rotisserie chicken does contain sodium, but it has a similar amount of sodium to many homemade chicken recipes.


Vegetable: Frozen Broccoli

Frozen broccoli, especially when you can heat it up in the package, like this microwavable broccoli, is a really easy dinner side. A 10 oz package will provide a generous portion to two people--enough to make your plate look visually full and enough to give you some fiber to help with satiety. Eating it straight out of the bag is fine, but if you feel adventurous and have a few extra seconds, you can season it with a spice mix of your choice, such as lemon pepper, or top with a salad dressing, such as Italian dressing.


Carb: Quinoa


Boil in a bag quinoa--another easy and nutritious side. It is ready in about 10 minutes, and can be prepared over the stove or in a microwave. Quinoa will add more fiber and protein to your meal. This one linked here is has no added seasoning, and it is fine by itself. To add flavor, you can use store-bought soup broth as some of the preparation liquid. Alternatively, you can season it with a spice mix, such as Jollof rice seasoning once it is prepared


Your Meal From Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas


Chicken, broccoli, and quinoa: a simple and satisfying meal. It contains a variety of food groups to make the meal balanced and filling. The whole meal can be ready in shorter time than it takes to get takeout. Using prepared or partially prepared foods is a great shortcut for putting a nutritious meal on the table. If you are short on time, give these quick and easy dinner ideas a try.


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