Nutritious, Easy, Quick Meal and Snack Ideas for the Family


Tips for preparing nutritious family meals in a jiffy

Preparing healthy meals for ourselves and our family can seem like a tall order when we are sleep-deprived, working hard, and trying to take care of everyone.

Here are a few strategies to help skip the takeout and create nutritious meals in a hurry:

  1. Keep a running grocery list of what you’ll need for the week and what you are low on. Replenish frequently used items before you run out.1

  2. To save time on grocery shopping, consider using a grocery delivery service or joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.2

  3. Think about purchasing pre-prepped vegetables (such as cubed butternut squash, chopped mushrooms, prepared salad, frozen mixed veggies, canned no-salt-added beans, etc.) to make meal preparation faster.

  4. Keep track of quick and easy recipes you and your family enjoy – try to keep some of the staple ingredients needed for these recipes on-hand to use in a pinch.

  5. Think about meals as a trio: Include a protein, a whole grain, and vegetables and/or fruit. This way you are getting many of the nutrients needed to meet your energy and health needs.

Make sure to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods, so you can whip up simple, nutritious meals quickly.

Learn More:

8 Tips for Simple, Quick, Healthy cooking

How can I Include more Whole Grains in my Diet?

Protein: Getting Enough of the Best Sources

How to Include more Leafy Green Vegetables in Your and Your Child’s Diet

Pro Tip:

Meals don’t have to be fancy or beautiful to be healthy. A quick vegetable omelet with whole grain toast for dinner and a side of fruit is often a better option than fast food burgers and fries.3,4

Cooking tips:

  • Try using quick cooking techniques like stir frying and roasting vegetables to get dinner on the table quickly.

  • Using a crockpot can be a great way to prep a meal when you may have more time and have it ready for dinner.

  • Cooking a double portion and having leftovers or freezing a second meal for later can help when time is tight.1

Easy, Quick Meal and Snack Ideas for Nutritious Eating

Choosing meals and snacks from the options listed below can help provide ideas for nutritious, balanced meals while saving time.

Be sure to prepare foods for your children in the size and texture they can handle.


  • Option 1: Scrambled eggs topped with salsa served with whole grain toast

  • Option 2: Avocado on whole grain toast with chopped tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon

  • Option 3: Oatmeal with peanut butter and sliced banana stirred in

  • Option 4: 2 Hard-boiled eggs with whole toaster waffle and fruit on the side

  • Option 5: Overnight slow cooker steel oats with apples and cinnamon


  • Option 1: Low fat cottage cheese with chopped tomatoes, avocado, and whole grain crackers

  • Option 2: Canned wild salmon on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and avocado, dressed with a vinaigrette, and tossed with left-over whole grains

  • Option 3: 2 Hard-boiled eggs over greens. Add whatever veggies (leftovers or fresh!), chickpeas, cheese, etc. you have in the fridge. Drizzle with oil and vinegar

  • Option 4: Roasted turkey* sandwich with avocado slices on whole grain bread; side salad with vinaigrette dressing

  • Option 5: Chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber (or whatever veggies you have in your fridge) in a whole grain wrap; side of fruit.


  • Option 1: Whole grain pasta tossed with grilled (or rotisserie) chicken, red peppers and artichokes, olive oil and garlic

  • Option 2: Grilled salmon with lentil salad (cooked lentils tossed with chopped carrots, red pepper, red onion, parsley, garlic–or whatever you have in the fridge OR whatever you can buy pre-chopped in the store—lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper)

  • Option 3: Grilled steak with baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli

  • Option 4: Spaghetti Squash served with cannellini beans, pesto, and shaved parmesan

  • Option 5: Miso-Marinated Fish: marinate fish for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) in miso to taste and then broil. Serve with brown rice and sautéed spinach or roasted broccoli.


  • Option 1: String cheese and whole grain crackers

  • Option 2: Overnight Chia Pudding: Stir 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 cup milk of choice, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract in a mason jar, close, shake vigorously, and refrigerate overnight. Top with fruit and nuts and enjoy! (also makes a great breakfast)

  • Option 3: Nut butter and apple slices

  • Option 4: Popcorn mixed with dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate pieces

  • Option 5: Hummus with carrots and cucumber slices

*If pregnant and using deli turkey, be sure to heat in a pan or microwave until steaming before consuming.5

Read More: Food Safety During Pregnancy

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Our meal plans offer recipe and meal suggestions. They are not designed to replace your doctor’s recommendations, nor do they take into account special nutritional needs or allergies. The meal plans suggest serving sizes that may or may not be appropriate for you. Please consult your doctor to determine what is best for you and your child.

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Family Meals: Developing Healthy Eating Patterns

Strategies For Creating a Healthy Kitchen for You and Your Family

Helping Your Child Build a Taste for Healthy Foods