Simple Meal Solutions and Tips

What’s for dinner?  It’s the question often dreaded in households across the country. Typically it is followed by a cringe and a dubious search through the pantry for something, anything moderately healthy and quick. While we desire to cook and eat nutritious, hearty foods sometimes our follow through is less than exceptional. Now that fall is here many of us are getting back to our routine and schedule at work and school. We have less time in the evenings to make dinner and almost no time to plan ahead for our meal menu. But don’t lose hope, your co-op is here to help you manage nightly meals and make the process of cooking and eating more enjoyable. With a few easy ideas, tips, and recipes you will be feeling like a ‘Master Chef’.

One Pot Meals

One pot meals are an incredibly simple and delicious way to make a meal that contains all the elements needed for a well rounded dinner.  Simply add veggies, meat or a non-meat protein alternative, your choice of starch or grain and then herbs, spices or a marinade to complete the dish.  The real beauty of one pot dishes is in the name, one pot to clean at the end of the meal!  Here are some suggested recipes for you to try:

Martha Stewart's 30 One Pot Recipes, includes her essential Italian tomato basil pasta, 30 minute chicken gumbo, arroz con pollo, paella, lentil curry, beef stroganoff, spicy coconut chicken cassarole and more!


Next, soups are an excellent way to make a delicious meal.  Soups can often be left to cook in a crockpot while you are away during the day.  Additionally, there are usually plenty of left overs to freeze in portions sized containers for later meals.  They also tend to be one of the lowest cost meal options.  You choose your favorite veggies, then beans and/ or meat.  White cannellini, kidney, cranberry or garbanzo beans are all tasty and versatile in soups.  Incorporate a rotisserie chicken into your soup!  Make a delicious chicken noodle, or chicken with wild rice soup! 

Here are a few fabulous recipes:

Meal and Menu Planning Tips

• Incorporate 2 veggies into your dish, whether fresh, frozen or canned and don’t forget onions and garlic count too!

• Our meat department has pre-marinated chicken breast in delicious bulgogi and mediterranean flavors as well as other pre-prepped meats

• DIY: We have rubs and spice mixes in bulk to readily cook with fish, chicken breast and more.  Spicely Organics blends are available in Za’atar, Chimichurri, Fish Grill + Broil Seasoning and Chicken Kabob Seasoning. Try them all!

• Never underestimate the power of salt, pepper and herbs.  Sometimes all a dish needs is the right blend of flavors to make it go from blah to wow.  If you have quinoa, veggies and a protein, you've got dinner!  Just add olive oil, lemon juice and a seasoned salt blend (many varieties, including non-salt, available at the co-op of course!) Go the extra mile by adding basil, thyme or rosemary.

•The base for almost every dinner is garlic and onion sauteed in olive oil.  This is an excellent place to start all meals, then build your flavors on top of this.  Does onion not agree with you?  Try shallots, onion powder or celery instead.

• Make a list of staple items to keep on hand.  I always have canned tomatoes, grains, olive oil, frozen veggies, spices, beans, canned coconut milk and frozen shrimp.  This way if I'm in a rush and go into the evening with no clue of what to make I know I can whip up something tasty from what I have on hand no matter what.

 Speaking of lists, Health Partners has some excellent resources for parents (and really anyone who cooks) to plan healthy meals.  Check out this printable 'Weekly Meal Plan' and shopping list. They also have an abundance of other information on their Yum Power site.

So have fun making meals!  Any planning you are able to do will always reduce meal time stress.  We at Linden Hills Co-op are always here to help you find healthy solutions, whether it is premade dinners from our deli or the raw ingredients to bring your inner chef to life!

Simple Meals from the Co-op:
Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala simmer sauce (grocery) + Wildwood tofu (refrigerated) + Cascadian farm mixed veggies (frozen)

Rising Moon Ravioli (frozen) + Nate's Italian Veggie Meatballs (frozen) + Field Day Marinara Sauce (packaged)

Kadejan Farms chicken breast (meat) + Annie's Shitake Sesame dressing (packaged) as a marinade + Alter Eco Quinoa

Westsoy Seasoned Tempeh (refrigerated) + Lundburg Basil & Bell Pepper rice (packaged) + Woodstock grilled red peppers (frozen)

Need more inspiration?

Visit our Pinterest Board for creative dinner ideas for a busy weeknight.