Easy dinners, coming right up.

Easy dinners, coming right up.


We’re in the third and final week of our series on breakfast, lunch and dinner meal ideas and up this week: Dinner. 


As I was thinking of allll the different meals and recipes I could share with you for this post, I realized that we all know that there are thousands upon thousands of recipes we could make and finding one can be as simple as google searching, but maybe what we need the most help with is getting dinner on the table quickly, preparing food for one or for a crowd, having meals made ahead of time and cooking for the week. That’s what I want to talk to you about today.


Below, I’m sharing 5 tried and true tricks that will save you time (and stress) while preparing dinner AND 10 easy meal ideas including 2 amazing recipes that we made for Cooking for Optimal Health last night: Falafel burgers with tahini-garlic sauce and oil-free tabbouleh served alongside fresh orange wedges and grapes. It was preeetty tasty. See the spread in the picture below.


5 Time Saving Tips for Easy Dinners

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Batch cook— when you’re going to the trouble to prepare a meal, double the recipe and save the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
  2. Freeze leftovers. Like a class member said last night “I can only eat so much chili in a week!” If you make a big recipe but are tired of all of your meals being the exact same thing, you don’t have to toss the leftovers and waste anything, just freeze the extra! That way, you have ready-made meals in the freezer for you to eat on a busy weeknight.
  3. Buy pre-chopped and pre-rinsed fruits and vegetables. If chopping is too time consuming or means you’re less likely to cook and more likely to eat out, buy the pre-chopped veggies at the store, they do the work for you!
  4. Prep your ingredients ahead of time. If you don’t mind the chopping but don’t have time during the week, as soon as you buy produce, or if you’re chopping half for a recipe, chop or rinse the rest then store it in your fridge. That way when you need your produce it’s already prepped.
  5. You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Some people think that eating healthy means that you have to make everything from scratch, and while that’s great if you have the time, there are plenty of items at the grocery store that will make preparing dinner easier for you, take advantage of that! For example, pasta sauces, diced tomatoes, boxed soups, canned or frozen veggies, frozen brown rice, vegetable stock, whole wheat bread, veggie crumbles or burgers, the list goes on. Just be sure to check the labels to make sure you’re getting a good product with an ingredient label you can read.


10 Easy Meal Ideas for Dinner

  1. Tacos: seasoned black beans and corn topped with shredded romaine, diced tomatoes, salsa and guacamole
  2. Pasta with Marinara: One of the EASIEST and tastiest meals! Find your favorite marinara sauce, boil whole grain pasta, heat your sauce on the stove, add the drained noodles and a dark leafy green, dinner is served! Serve with a side salad with tomatoes and oil-free balsamic dressing (I found a great one at Whole Foods!).
  3. Whole grain pita or wrap stuffed with raw or cooked veggies, avocado, beans or hummus. Filling and super fast to prepare!
  4. Baked sweet potato with brown rice and creamy mushroom gravy (the recipe you received from signing up for this newsletter 🙂
  5. Veggie pasta: This week, I made whole wheat spiral pasta and tossed it with leftover sauteed squash, zucchini, onion and garlic. Seasoned with salt and pepper, it was a delicious meal! Add any sauteed vegetables you like and serve tossed with hot pasta.
  6. Quinoa bowl with roasted veggies (your favorites, roasted on parchment paper to prevent sticking).
  7. Chickpea and vegetable curry. Recipe here.
  8. Chili: There are so many chili recipes (most delicious), and chili is great to make a big batch then eat the leftovers and freeze any extra.
  9. Vegan enchilada casserole: this is a recipe I’ve been dying to try. Make a big batch and portion it out for lunch for the week or freeze.
  10. Falafel burgers with tabbouleh, see the pictures of the food we made for our Cooking for Optimal Health class below.


For more free recipes, visit our Pinterest page here.

Now, we’d love for you to answer our Columbia’s Cooking Question:


What’s the hardest part (where you could use some help or advice) of preparing meals for you? Planning, shopping, cooking, etc. We’d love to hear and help 🙂

Stay in the know…

Tomorrow morning, Trisha, Director of Columbia’s Cooking, is speaking at the Arnold School of Public Health’s 40th Anniversary Symposium. Trisha will be on an expert panel discussing “What in the World is a Whole Grain and How to Eat Them” If you want to learn more about the event, follow this link:  http://nutritioncenter.sph.sc.edu/symposium.shtml 


We’ve had some inquiries about Summer Camps, so I wanted to share the link for our current curriculum here: http://saeu.sc.edu/adventures/advseries.php 

If we decide to offer more classes for kiddos this summer, you’ll be the first to know. Also, you can email colacook@mailbox.sc.edu to let us know you’re interested in additional summer camp sessions; that helps us plan 🙂


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