Lazy summer days have given way to hectic autumn nights and dinnertime is suddenly a lot more complicated. When you’re short on time, getting a healthy homemade meal on the table every night can seem like a Herculean task. Here are our favorite ways to make it a little bit easier*:
1. Use a Healthy Meal Delivery Service
If you enjoy cooking, but hate schlepping to the grocery store, you’re the perfect candidate for a meal delivery service. (They’re also great for mixing things up a little bit when you find yourself making the same few dishes over and over.) The recipes and everything you need to make them are overnighted to you and there are a lot of great vegetarian options available from most services.
Our pick: We love Purple Carrot because it’s vegan and their recipes are super creative—not to mention delicious. Sesame Crusted Tofu Steaks with Chermoula Sauce? Yes please!
2. Rely on High-Quality Prepared Foods
Frozen foods might not have a great reputation, but the frozen TV dinners you might have grown up eating are far in the past and now the freezer section at the grocery store is stocked with gourmet vegetarian options. Look for meals with a minimal list of whole food ingredients.
Our pick: Tucson Tamales has a fantastic line-up of vegan and vegetarian tamales; the Chile Relleno, stuffed with roasted green chiles, cheese and corn, is our favorite. Order them online and keep them on hand in the freezer!
3. Make No-Hassle Sides
When you’re in a time crunch, it’s hard to make a main dish and one or two additional sides. Even if you have time to make the recipes themselves, no one wants to face washing all those dishes afterwards! Our dinnertime strategy is to make a main dish that’s a little more involved and then make an effortless side, like roasted or steamed veggies.
Our pick: Tommy’s Superfoods makes pre-seasoned frozen vegetable blends that can be popped in the oven or microwave for maximum convenience. Unlike other brands, they’re low in sodium—instead, the flavor comes from the flash-frozen veggies, herbs and spices.
4. Have a (Healthy) Contingency Plan
Whether you have a picky eater or kids eating dinner late because of after-school activities, it’s good to keep your freezer and pantry stocked with healthy single-serving meal options. Whether it’s a can of soup or a frozen dinner, you’ll be glad you have it on hand when you need it.
Our pick: Garden Lites Mac & Cheese is a meal kids will love, but parents will also love it because it’s made with butternut squash, broccoli, and cauliflower.
*We received samples of the products mentioned in this post.