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How to Make Healthier Weeknight Dinners

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It’s not uncommon to come home after work too tired to care about dinner.  Oftentimes, it’s much easier to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave or call up a favorite delivery spot than having to think about actually cooking.  But dinners that come out of a box or from a restaurant tend to be significantly higher in calories, portion size, fat content and sodium levels than dinners that are made at home, meaning cooking from home is the clear option for anyone watching his or her weight and health.

Contrary to popular opinion, cooking dinner from the comfort of your home does not require excessive planning, expensive ingredients or exorbitant amounts of time, meaning it is absolutely possible to find easy recipes for dinner that are both budget-friendly and quick to throw together.  Try out the following tips for cooking easy, healthy and fast weeknight dinners:

 

  • Plan ahead

Take 30 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon brainstorming dinner ideas and compiling a grocery list for the upcoming week.  Knowing what you’re planning on making ahead of time greatly reduces your chances of succumbing to takeout or popping an unhealthy frozen meal in the microwave.  Writing down what you plan to eat for the week also makes you much more conscious of the amount and types of food going into your body, which is a healthy eating perspective to adopt.

 

  • Don’t be afraid of canned or boxed products

It is a complete misconception that pre-packaged foods are necessarily unhealthy.  As long as you are conscious of what brands you are buying and the nutrition information associated with those brands, cooking from a can or a box can be a completely healthy option, as well as a definite time saver.  Many canned products have numerous health benefits and are much more likely to be good for you than meals from a drive-through.  If you’re a knowledgeable consumer, there’s no reason that you can’t be a healthy cook.

 

  • Make big portions

Even if you’re just cooking for yourself, there are many benefits that come with making full portions of recipes.  The first benefit of this cooking method is that you’ll be likely to have leftovers for the next few days that can be packed up for lunch or reheated the next day for dinner.  Not only will leftovers save you the empty calories you’d probably get from eating out, but a second important benefit is that you won’t waste money throwing out food you don’t eat.

 

  • Invest in a slow cooker

Slow cookers are a life-saving tool for anyone with a busy schedule.  Cooking with a slow cooker involves virtually zero thought and effort, but can result in hearty and delicious dinners; simply throw in your ingredients before you leave for work, come home and you’ll have a meal that’s ready to serve.  It’s also a very healthy cooking method since the meat and other ingredients you put in your slow cooker will cook in their own juices instead of requiring oil or butter.

This recipe for Asian-Style Shredded Pork Wraps is the perfect healthy weeknight meal—with only 6 ingredients and 15 minutes of actual prep time, this is a dinner you can have on the table in no time that is sure to work its way into your weeknight rotation.

 

Asian-Style Shredded Pork Wraps

 How to Make Healthier Weeknight Dinners

Prep Time: 15 min – Total Time: 8 ¼ hours – Servings: 6 – Calories per Serving: 392

Ingredients

  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
  • ½ cup La Choy® Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 8oz can La Choy® Sliced Water Chestnuts, drained
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup sliced green onions

Spray the inside of a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Place pork roast, teriyaki marinade and water in the slow cooker.  Cover; cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove pork from slow cooker.  Pull pork apart into shreds using 2 forks.  Add ½ cup cooking juices to moisten pork.

Divide pork between tortillas and top with water chestnuts, carrots and green onions.  Wrap tortilla around filling burrito-style.  Serve with remaining juices, if desired.

Meredith K. writes on behalf of ReadySetEat.  For more easy dinner recipes for busy weeknights, visit www.ReadySetEat.com.

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About the Author
Da Vinci, Editor in Chief of Your Life After 25, has carved out her own position as a “Realistic Optimist,” and modern day Renaissance woman. Your Life After 25 is the women's magazine for all women, but we put a spin on things and also make sure to embrace life for ladies over 25. Whether you're 25, 30, 35, 40, 50 or older we have something for you! Your Life After 25 "Believe It Or Not, It Does Go On"
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