Don’t let after-school activities, homework, and hectic work schedules prevent you from having sit-down dinners with your family. Eating together encourages family members to reconnect after a busy day, and according to a report released by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it also plays a role in healthy living. Shared family meals may improve your diet quality and nutrient intake, and to a lesser extent, could potentially help with weight maintenance. It also provides you with the perfect opportunity to teach your kids healthy eating habits through example. You don’t need to spend hours cooking each night in order to make sit-down meals a reality. By preparing dishes in advance and storing them in the freezer, you can quickly serve your family a healthy dinner any night of the week. These six make-ahead healthy dinner recipes take the stress out of sit-down suppers.
1. Mushroom and Root Vegetable Pot Pie
Nutritional needs are satisfied with Cooking Light’s mushroom and root vegetable pot pie. Fat-free ingredients, whole-wheat flour, and veggies create a dish that has 351 calories and 10.5 grams of fat per serving. If you’re planning to freeze the pot pies, follow the recipe’s instructions but wait to bake them until you are ready to eat.
- 2 cups sliced carrots, ½-inch-thick
- 2 cups sliced rutabaga, ½-inch-thick
- 2 cup sliced parsnips, ½-inch-thick
- 3 cups organic vegetable broth
- 2 cups fat-free milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
- 3 (4-ounce) packages presliced exotic mushroom blend
- ⅔ cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 ounces (about ⅓ cup) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- Cooking spray
- 3.2 ounces (about ⅔ cup) whole-wheat flour
- 3 ounces (about ⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- ⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free buttermilk, divided
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove the carrot mixture from pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid, and set aside. Discard bay leaf. Heat 1½ teaspoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1½ teaspoons thyme and mushrooms; cook for 12 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Melt remaining 1½ teaspoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add ⅔ cup chopped shallots and garlic; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
Pour ½ cup reserved cooking liquid into a bowl. Weigh or lightly spoon 1.5 ounces all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add 1.5 ounces all-purpose flour to ½ cup reserved cooking liquid in bowl; stir with a whisk. Add remaining reserved cooking liquid, remaining thyme, cream, and sherry to pan with shallots; bring to a boil. Add flour mixture; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until mixture thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, stirring frequently. Place the reserved carrot mixture, mushrooms, and shallot mixture in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Spoon 1⅓ cups mixture into each of six ramekins coated with cooking spray.
Weigh or lightly spoon whole-wheat flour and 3 ounces all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine whole-wheat flour, 3 ounces all-purpose flour, baking powder, and parsley in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in 3 tablespoons chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ⅔ cup buttermilk to whole-wheat flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto vegetable mixture, dividing evenly among ramekins. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk over topping. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.