Getting a healthy meal on the table doesn't have to be complicated. There are plenty of options for easy, nutritious meals that your whole family will love. Focus on a few healthy cooking techniques to get started, and aim for meals consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.
Spectacular Steamed Meals
Steaming takes only minutes and is one of the best cooking techniques around for sealing in nutrients. Place a steamer insert into a cooking pot, add a small amount of water to the bottom and layer your foods in the steamer to cook them all at once. A marinated fillet of salmon topped with asparagus and chopped new potatoes steams up in under 15 minutes. You can also steam in the microwave using a special steamer dish, or find cut vegetables packed in bags designed for microwave steaming.
Quick Stir Fries
Avoid greasy Chinese takeout and make stir-fried dishes at home using cooking spray and some water instead of oil. The simplest stir fry starts with chopped chicken and a package of frozen vegetables cooked on medium-high heat, with a few tablespoons of sweet and sour or oyster sauce. It doesn't take much to change your stir-fried dishes by using beef, pork, shrimp or tofu and opting for stir-fry-friendly fresh vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers, celery and broccoli. For an exotic touch that adds even more nutrients, toss in some pineapple chunks and roasted cashews.
Soup doesn't have to come from a can. Making your own soup keeps sodium levels low and lets you add healthier ingredients. Chicken noodle soup made with boneless, skinless chicken breast, whole-wheat pasta, garlic, spinach and peas makes a hearty meal when served with a whole-grain baguette and a quick side salad topped with creamy dressing. Another healthy soup option for a great meal is fiber-rich lentil soup made with carrots, tomatoes, onion and canned lentils that can simmer unattended for 30 minutes while you take care of household chores.
A slow cooker makes meal preparation easy, because all you need to do is toss in the ingredients in the morning and open the cooker at night for a delicious, ready-to-eat meal. Because of the way these cookers blend flavors, you can use almost anything you have on hand to make a slow-cooked dinner. As long as you've got one type of meat, one to two cans of salt-free vegetables and one jar of sauce, the possibilities are endless. Beef, tomato sauce, canned green beans and canned mushrooms are one option, but other combinations work just as well.