Easy, Guilt Free Dinners

Dinner is Served!

By Lori S Brizee MS, RDN, LD, CDE


Face it, we’ve all been there—long day, lots of running around and nothing planned for dinner. We know our kids need healthy balanced meals, but how do we do that on the fly? Here are a few ideas for quick meals that satisfy.

Even those less than healthy entrees can be made into balanced meals:

  • Frozen pizza, canned soup, frozen burrito, packaged mac n cheese
    Add raw veggies and sliced oranges and milk or water to drink.
  • Fast Food Order your entree with salads or veggies on the side, and milk or water to drink. Get one order of fries to share with the whole family.
  • Healthier “fast food” Deli sandwiches with lettuce or spinach and tomatoes on whole grain bread, or a main-dish salad. Check out options at grocery store deli counters.

Quick meals that you can make at home in less than 30 minutes:

Sandwiches (e.g., peanut or almond butter and jam, turkey, tuna salad) apple and carrot slices and a glass of milk.

Bean, Veggie and Cheese Quesadillas


  • 1-2 corn tortillas or ½ to 1 whole wheat tortillas per person
  • ½ to 1 cup per tortilla: Canned refried beans or whole beans, mashed with potato masher
  • Optional: ½ to 1 cup finely diced veggies per tortilla, onion, green, red or yellow bell pepper and/or chopped fresh or frozen spinach
  • 2-4 tablespoons per tortilla grated
    cheddar or jack cheese

Directions: Spread ½ to 1 cup beans on tortillas, top that with veggies heat in
400 degree oven for 4-5 minutes; sprinkle with cheese and put back in oven for
another 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted, If your kids won’t eat quesadillas with veggies on them; have raw veggies or salad on the side.

French bread/English muffin Pizza


  • 1 whole wheat English muffin or 1 -2 slices French bread per person
  • Sauce: tomato paste + water to desired consistency + onion powder, garlic powder and Italian herbs
  • Toppings: cheese, meat, veggies

Directions: Spread sauce on English muffins or French bread. Add toppings and heat under broiler until cheese is bubbling. Have some sliced fruit on the side for a complete, healthy meal.



  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef.
  • 2 cans kidney, pinto or black beans
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil (any kind)
  • Seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin and mild chili powder to taste
  • Toppings: chopped lettuce and tomato and grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, salsa (any kind)
  • Optional toppings: sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, chopped avocado or

Directions: Heat heavy frying pan, add oil, brown meat with spices. Add beans and cook until hot. Chop lettuce and tomatoes and grate cheese while meat and bean mixture is cooking. Heat tortillas in the microwave. Fill tortillas with the meat and bean mixture and add toppings and you have a complete meal. Freeze leftover meat and bean filling for another dinner!

Super Simple spaghetti or pasta:


  • 1 lb ground beef, chicken, turkey, or Italian sausage
  • 1 large can tomato puree
  • Optional: ½ cup red wine
    (alcohol will cook off)
  • Seasonings: Italian herbs, garlic
    powder and onion powder to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 ounces per person, dry pasta,
    preferably whole grain but any kind
    will work: macaroni (rotini, penne and macaroni are easier for young kids
    to eat than spaghetti)

Directions: Start water for pasta, and then start making sauce. As soon as
water is boiling, add pasta.

Sauce: Brown meat; then add tomato
puree, wine, if using and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then cover and
simmer until pasta is finished cooking. Once pasta is done, dinner is ready!

Quick, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese 

4 adult size servings


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3 cups whole grain macaroni—cooked
    per package instructions

Directions: Measure macaroni and start heating water to cook it in. You will add macaroni to the water as soon it water boils.

Sauce: Pour milk into a sauce pan and add corn starch, stir until corn starch is dissolved, then heat on medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly until it boils (about 5 minutes). Add grated cheese
and stir until melted into the sauce.

When macaroni is done, drain and pour cheese sauce over it and you have a tasty entre. For variety add frozen chopped broccoli, or peas to the sauce. Heat frozen veggies in microwave and you have a complete meal.

Add a salad made from pre-washed greens and cherry tomatoes or raw
carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, cauliflower,
to complete these meals.

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