1 Hour, 3 Healthy Meals & 1 Snack for Family of 4

Not every day allows everything to go according to plan.   Meal planning often requires the stars to be in perfect alignment.   If you have kids, you struggle with feeding them healthy foods.  Even without kids, many find it challenging to cook healthy and eat appropriately.  Truth be told, I shoot for 4 or 5 days a week where I have control over my family’s diet (3 kids, my husband and me) and the only way I can do it is by picking 2 or 3 days a week to cook for all the days of the week.

I am not sure why this phenomenon happens, kids eat healthy things at other people’s houses or school, but if you (moms) make it, forget about it.  My son eats blanched broccoli at his pre-school, vegetable dumplings at his friends house, but if I make – no way!

So like many mothers I hide vegetables where I can.  I have learned however, you have to hide it well and you can’t get to overzealous with the vegetables.  So here is an example of how I cook several meals at one time, without wasting food, have new dishes for the various meals and keep it healthy and fairly inexpensive.

I did this at 7am, while my kids were eating breakfast and then playing.  As long as I am done by 8:15am, I have time to get to work between 9 and 10am.  I hope you find this helpful.

Here are my ingredients (seasonings not included).  I am ball-parking it, but all of this equals about $35-$38.

  • 1 package of Organic Ground Beef (1 pound)
  • Spinach
  • Garlic
  • One Package of Instant Healthy Rice of Your Choice
  • I Tube of Pillsbury Croissant Rolls or Buns
  • Slider Buns
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Pre-Sealed Tilapia Filets – 2-4 ( I actually buy these in the big bag at Dominicks or at Costco)
  • Sun Dried Tomato and Pine Nut  Paste

I Made 3 Meals and 1 Healthy Snack in 1 Hour:

  • Baked Beef, Spinach and Quinoa/Wild Rice Empanada ( for 4-5)
  • 4 Spinach & Beef Sliders  (for 4)
  • 3 Baked Beef, Spinach and Quinoa/Wild Rice Taco Sandwiches (6 snacks)
  • Grilled Tilapia with Sundried Tomato, Pine Nuts & Garlic Sauce with Spinach & Quinoa/Wild Rice (4-5)
  1. I started with a handful of spinach and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic in olive oil.  I pureed it.
  2. Then I divided the 1-pound package of beef in half.
  3. I cooked one half in the sauté pan, with seasonings and a couple spoons of the spinach puree. I put the spinach mix in when the beef is almost completely cooked so the spinach does not over cook and lose the nutrients.
  4. Then I choose one of my two favorite healthy rice options: Seeds of Change Quinoa or the Dominick Select Brand of Quinoa and Wild Rice and nuked it for 1 minute.
  5. I placed half of the bag of rice (I choose the Select) in the pan and mixed it all together until the beef was cooked and tasty.  Then set aside the rest of the rice in the bag.  The juices from the garlic/spinach and beef will moisten the rice and give it a lot more flavor.  Once cooked, divide it into two portions.
  6. Open up a can of the Pillsbury Croissant dough and roll it out flat.  Do not separate the individual pieces.  Once flat, pinch the dough together along the cut lines.
  7. Place half of the beef mixture in the dough and fold it over and then pinch all the sides together.  (The dough is the unhealthiest-part of the meals, but worth because the kids like- I can not find a dough that it whole wheat).
  8. Bake the ‘empanada’ about 18-20 minutes.  The package calls for 8-10 at 375, but I do 350, so it cooks slower and the dough doesn’t burn.
  9. While that is cooking, take the remaining beef mixture and place them in your whole wheat tortilla of choice with a little cheese.  For me, I throw a lot more spinach in them.
  10. I was able to make 3- medium size tortillas with the remaining meat.  This became my snack for the kids and myself.  Wrap them in tin foil and bake.
  11. Now, while the tortilla and croissant empanada are cooking, I take the remaining ½ pound of beef and mix it with the rest of the spinach and garlic.  I massage it altogether and make 4 slider size hamburgers.  I set those aside with saran wrap in the frig.
  12. Open up the tilapia filets from the package and place them on the tin foil.  Take 1 spoon per filet of the sundried tomatoes and pine nut paste (located in the product section of Dominick’s or Jewel) and spread onto the fish once you have salted or peppered.   Then throw a couple handfuls of spinach and the remaining rice on the top.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the rice and spinach and then fold the tin foil up.
  13. Once your grill is heated up, put your burgers and the fish on.  You can save it until it is time to cook dinner, but if you are trying to have it all ready you are sill going to be done in less than an hour.
  14. It does not take more than 10 minutes to cook both.  Once they are done you are taking the empanada and tacos out of the frig.  I trim the excess tortilla to make them look like sandwich squares.  Then you can slice the empanada loaf or what looks like a calzone into strips and serve when it is time to eat.
  15. Once the burgers and fish are ready. I slide them onto the a glass plate and cover so it is easy to reheat.  I even place the burger on the slider bun with a piece of cheese so when they need to be re heated the cheese melts fresh.
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