Beep, Beep! Ideas to Beat the Dinner Rush After a Long Day at Work

Sep 22, 2021 | Eating Well

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If you made it out of the first year of the pandemic without an air fryer or pressure cooker, transitioning back to working in the office may be the time to get one or the other to help speed up dinner prep. Many of us have become accustomed to working from home, where we can start dinner as soon as we clock out or earlier (thanks pressure cookers!).


To help keep you from always resorting to drive-through or super late suppers once we return to a commuting lifestyle, Lindsay Barleycorn, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, diabetes nutrition educator at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, shares some ideas and resources for meals you can quickly get on the table.

Make Meal Prep a Regular Habit

Meal prep can go a long way, especially for the weeks you know will be busier than normal. If you have a day where you can make multiple meals and freeze them, that can keep you ahead in the dinner scramble. Make use of leftovers, and plan meals that will last you more than a day.

One Sheet Pan Cooking

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Put chicken or other lean protein, vegetables and potatoes all cut to the same size with a little oil and seasoning and roast at 450 degrees for about a half hour. This go-to method can create fast meals that don’t require standing over a stove or much evening-of activity if you get the ingredients ready on your advance prep days.

Soups and Stews

We’ll have to wait for the weather to cool for this to be really appealing. Enjoying a soup or stew that’s bubbled away in a pressure cooker or on the stove all day can be filling, comforting and healthy at the same time. Big batches can turn into lunches later in the week or last even longer in the freezer. 

Find New Recipes

To keep yourself from getting stuck making the same recipes over and over, look for new recipes online and in magazines. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association offer simple, healthy recipes that make use of ingredients most of us will have on hand. Holly Clegg’s team continues her legacy, and their Healthy Cooking Blog includes a variety of easy recipes great for cooks in the South. #TeamHolly recipes prove that food can taste great even when it’s healthier. 

Apps for That

If you like to use your phone for recipe curation, there’s always an app for that. Mealime allows you to look up recipes and filter them by dietary requirements, cuisine type or ingredients. So, if you are staring at a package of chicken thighs or pork chops at 5:30 P.M. and need to decide how to cook them, an app like this can give new ideas and make that easier.

Remember Nutrition and Balance

Make sure you eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, protein such as meat, starches and fruits, across your day. Focus on a complete meal. Try to eat the colors of the rainbow, and we don’t mean candy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers advice on its website, including the latest dietary recommendations for Americans. Using the visual of how much of which types of food to eat can help you make good nutrition choices.

Some nights the drive-through will be your solution, and that’s OK occasionally. Don’t make it your only option when traffic is especially bad or your day has run long. Try to eat most of your meals from food you can make at home.

If you would like to meet with a professional nutritionist, our health system can help. Schedule a visit with a skilled provider here.

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