13 5-min healthy dinners to fight holiday stress

cookie baking or cooking dinner?

cookie baking or cooking dinner?

Who wants to cook dinner when there are cookies to be baked?

I don’t know about you, but I’m always relieved when January 1st rolls around and I can leave the holiday frenzy behind.  So many things can fall off the radar screen as we rush around buying gifts, going to parties, planning our own events, cooking special foods, traveling, dealing with crowds and traffic and continuing to work.  Things like exercise or eating actual meals for example.  Right now I’m more interested in baking cookies than cooking dinner.  But dinner must happen.  What to do?

You could solve the problem by going out, which is fine, but there’s probably a limit to how many restaurant meals you can afford — time-wise, expense-wise and calorie-wise — right now.  Plus it’s a good idea to eat an actual healthy dinner that’s reasonably balanced, so you don’t add poor food choices to your list of holiday stresses.  With that in mind, here’s a list of 13 healthy dinners you can put together in 5-10 minutes at home.  Which hopefully will prevent you from making a meal out of a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream.

  1. scrambled eggs and sautéed vegetables
  2. grain bowl using pre-cooked rice, quinoa or other grain (available at grocery stores) mixed with chopped vegetables (snap peas, broccoli cauliflower and carrots are good) and pre-cooked meat or tofu
  3. canned vegetable soup with added canned beans and frozen vegetables like green beans or chopped spinach, plus crusty artisanal bread
  4. cheese omelet and tossed green salad
  5. big bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit (sliced apples or bananas, pineapple chunks, berries) garnished with granola
  6. tortilla with melted cheese, refried beans, salsa and chopped vegetables
  7. microwave-baked potato garnished with grated cheese and finely chopped broccoli
  8. pita or tortilla with hummus and chopped fresh vegetables
  9. ready-to-eat smoked salmon with whole grain crackers and raw vegetable sticks
  10. vegetable stir fry with pre-cooked chicken or beef or tofu chunks, garnish with soy sauce and garlic
  11. open-faced melted cheese and tomato sandwich on bread or bagel plus canned vegetable soup
  12. big tossed salad (dark greens, peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, etc) with grated cheese and/or smoked salmon, garnished with nuts or seeds, and bread
  13. burger (on a bun or not) with tossed green salad

Cookies and milk for dinner?  Save it for Santa.

No this isn’t rocket science.  These are all pretty simple no-brainers, not much cooking involved at all.  Think of it as a friendly reminder that prepping a reasonable meal is possible even when you feel overwhelmed and out of time and energy.  The key is to have the necessary ingredients already at home.  Essentials include:

  • canned soups that are low sodium (add your own salt if you like) and full of vegetables
  • good whole grain bread, or tortillas or bagels.
  • pre-washed greens
  • pre-chopped fresh vegetables (or those you can chop quickly)
  • cheese
  • salsa
  • hummus
  • canned refried and regular beans
  • eggs
  • olive or canola oil for salad dressing or cooking
  • fresh fruit
  • yogurt
  • whole grain cereals
  • canned tuna, smoked salmon
  • packages of pre-cooked ready-to-serve grains
  • ground meat for burgers or frozen burger patties

This is just a partial list and of course, you may have other extra quick dinner ideas of your own.   The overall goal: a filling meal with protein, whole grains and plenty of vegetables so you feel full without overeating junk.  Leaving you with time and energy to do the important holiday chores, like baking cookies.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.