Even as a nutritionist, I feel like there should be a college-level course on how to effectively feed a family. With discerning tastes (ahem, picky toddlers), ever-changing dietary needs, crazy work/life schedules and new research daily on what’s actually “healthy,” preparing a dinner your crew will actually eat can be complicated, to say the least. But at least the grocery shopping part of things is getting easier, thanks to more accessible food delivery services like Amazon Fresh. When you can’t make it to the store after work (or are just choosing on principle not to drag your toddler and 6-month-old who just learned how to scream—no thx!), now you can shop straight from your phone—and get it delivered within two hours later. BLESS.
The best news? Amazon Fresh is now a FREE benefit for Prime members (it used to cost $14.99/month). There are more than 2000 cities/regions where you can access Amazon Fresh—with more being added every day, and 2-hour shipping is free on orders over $35 ($50 for New York). Not a Prime Member? Sign up for a free trial here. You won’t believe some of the deals you’ll have access to (as low as 25 cents!).
Whether you’re already a pro at meal planning and prepping or just trying to make it through till the weekend (we feel you!), with a few nutrient-dense items in regular rotation, weeknight dinners become much easier to put together. Here’s a look at what I stock up on at Amazon Fresh to get my family of four through a busy week. When you needed dinner on the table 10 minutes ago, these nutritionist- and mom-approved handy hacks will have your back.
We don”t need to tell you that pasta is a weeknight dinner savior, but this gluten-free quinoa- and corn-based rotini from Ancient Harvest cooks up in just four to six minutes (half the time of its wheat counterpart!). With 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving, it’s a great way to get in some extra nutrition. Serve it with red sauce and add a can of tuna or turkey meatballs, or try it with a kale and basil pesto and parmesan for a greener twist.
I have yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t love ranch dressing, and I feel good about giving my kids this one, which is made with avocado oil and is sugar-free. (You’d be surprised how many salad dressings contain hidden sugar!) Primal Kitchen’s ranch dressing is a staple in our fridge for dipping chicken nuggets, pizza, sweet potato fries, peppers and cucumbers, and for the grown-ups, it’s great on all of the above (let’s be honest) plus a side salad or grain bowl. Stock up.
Try centering quick meals around a whole grain, like this 7-grain and lentil blend. It’s packed with protein and fiber, but more importantly, heats up in 90 seconds. This frozen mix makes an ideal base for a basic fried rice—just add peas, eggs, tofu or shredded chicken and some soy sauce and DONE. Want more ideas? Use it as a super-fast superfood side with salmon or chicken or meatloaf, or make grain bowls topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and your fave dressing.
I keep at least two packs of chicken thighs in my freezer at all times—they make the perfect beginnings for a soup or tray bake, my latest obsession. Season the thighs, then place on a baking sheet with celery, onion, apple, squash or sweet potato (or both), croutons or torn bread and douse with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 till golden brown and the chicken has cooked through, but here’s the ticket: after the first 15 minutes, cover all ingredients with a cup of chicken broth—this makes the veg steam up and the croutons/bread soak up all that savory goodness. Repeat once more after another 10 or so minutes, then serve hot.
I’m a big fan of nachos for dinner, and lately we’ve been making them with Beyond Beef for a plant-based meal that pleases all appetites. Nachos are great because you can customize them (jalapenos just on half, for example) and cater to different dietary preferences (I use dairy-free cheese shreds on mine to make it truly vegan, but my kids prefer cow’s milk cheese). But *everyone* loves these plant-based beef crumbles. They add 13 grams of protein per serving and tons of flavor—plus they stick to your ribs a little bit more than just straight-up beans and chips.
If your kid is a mac-and-cheese diehard, this gourmet version from Annie’s steps things up a notch. Organic noodles and white cheddar sauce means more available nutrients (even from a boxed dinner), and try adding in some frozen peas at the end of cooking the noodles for a little splash of something green. They’ll love how the shells hug the individual peas (cute!). Another way to sneak in more nutrition? Stir in a big scoop of plain, full-fat yogurt along with the milk and butter—it makes it extra creamy/tangy and adds a good dose of calcium and healthy fat.
To be honest, I’m kind of an egg snob, but these pasture-raised eggs from Vital Farms check all the boxes. You can tell they’re super nutrient-rich and fresh by the orangey yolk! If you’re not yet on board with the genius invention that is breakfast for dinner, let me explain: From egg sandwiches to French toast to plain ol’ cereal, BFD is widely appealing, you likely have the ingredients on hand, and you can get it on the table in less than five minutes—way faster than running to Chick-Fil-A and waiting in the endless drive-thru line.
Who doesn’t want to eat French Fries for supper? Sure, you can serve up sweet potato fries with just ketchup, but you could also go next-level by topping them with avocado chunks, cherry tomato halves and tempeh bacon (or real bacon) crumbles for a twist on the BLT. I also like adding a handful of baby arugula to my plate to get some greens in there. But think of sweet potato fries like you would a stuffed baked potato—then get creative with the toppings. Black beans and cheese? Sure. Brussels sprouts, sausage and gravy? Yep. Instant meal.
This is essentially a grown-up version of mac and cheese: Comfort food at its finest. I love Amy’s country cheddar bowl so much, I figured out how to make a dairy-free version at home, and it’s now one of my go-tos. But in a pinch, these freezer meals come in super handy for a quick dinner—they’re amazingly savory and creamy. Packed with broccoli, potatoes, tofu, carrots and red pepper, you’re getting a good amount of veggies in every bite, and it’s all covered in this velvety, tangy cheese sauce. Omg, it’s so good.
If your fam is big on pizza but small on veggies, all you need for a veg-dense meal is a frozen cauliflower pizza crust in your back pocket (or freezer, as it were). There’s a little mozzarella baked into this crust, which means it’s extra delicious. Top with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni to go the classic route, or try a Mediterranean version with feta cheese, olives, spinach and tomatoes.
Here are even more kitchen hacks you need to know for making meal time, and life, easier.