Nutrition Corner: Stay cool with quick dinners the whole family can enjoy

July 12th, 2016 1:31 pm

It’s summertime — time to be outdoors enjoying the warm late afternoons. The less time spent in the kitchen, the better.

Eating at home saves money and can boost your nutrition. Learn some time-saving tips to help you and your family prepare and enjoy family meals at home and still enjoy the warm summer days.

First, plan ahead. Set aside a time each week to organize the coming week’s meal plan. Ask family members for their input. They’ll be more likely to eat what is prepared and more interested in helping with preparation and clean-up if their food preferences have been considered. Have someone track the meals by writing them on the calendar. After two weeks, just repeat the meals.

Next, cook once, and eat twice. If making meat sauce, brown some extra ground meat for use in tacos or on pizza. Freeze the browned meat in meal-sized portions in plastic freezer bags.

Another tip is to cook a larger-than-needed chicken in the crock pot for one meal and use leftover chicken for burritos or chicken stir fry.

Cook the fast way. Broiling, stir-frying and microwaving usually require less cooking time than roasting or baking. The grill is a great way to enjoy home cooked foods and not heat up the kitchen.

Also, consider no-cook meals. Whole meal salads with canned tuna, chicken or beans, or cold sandwiches served with raw vegetables and chopped fruit, make a great dinner.

Last but not least, give everybody a job. Preparing family meals together gives you time together.

Here is a recipe for a cold salad, which is served as an entrée. Enjoy!

Quick ‘n Cool Summer Salad

14 ounces elbow macaroni

1 can green beans (16 ounce, drained and rinse or other vegetable)

1 can tuna packed in water (7 ounces, drained and flaked)

1 cup cheese (diced)

1/2 cup sweet pickles (diced)

1/2 cup onion (diced)

1 cup yogurt, plain

1/2 cup mayonnaise, light

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions and drain. Add vegetables, tuna, onions, cheese, and pickles.

Mix yogurt, salad dressing, lemon juice, salt and seasoned pepper. Toss with macaroni mixture. Chill before serving. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or romaine letter. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford Counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at