Dinners for the desperate! Fast healthy meals to feed the family

fast healthy meals to feed the family
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You get to the end of a busy day of leaping around with the kids and think… bugger, what will we eat for dinner?

Yes, yes, usually I do meal plan and shop ahead. But sometimes I get all washed away in the surf of family life ... or feel rebellious and refuse to go to the shops. What then?!

I put a desperate plea out on Facebook a while back and so many of you replied with your favourite dinners when there’s no dinner.

I also ran a competition and asked entrants to share their fave fast healthy family meal.

Thanks so much, friends!

I’ve made this list which I’ll be referring to regularly.

Honestly, the minute I win Lotto, I shall be advertising for a full-time cook to join the household. In the meantime, desperate times to keep popping up and here’s where I’ll be coming for dinner-time rescue.




‘What’s the fastest healthy standby meal you give your family?’


Omelettes are my go to easy meal for the family! I can hide all sorts of leftover bits and/or meats and veggies in them and I know that both my boys are eating a nutritious meal that only takes minutes to prepare and cook!



Although it’s not original, spaghetti bol and cut up vege sticks. I have to say  I don’t bother hiding veggies in the spag bol for my fussy eaters as it can mean they reject the whole meal!



Fried rice. It’s a concoction of leftovers from the fridge, boiled rice and a dash of soy!



Scrambled eggs with tomato,  mushroom,  rice, parsley and spanish onion.



Penne pasta with sauteed onion, mushroom and a dollop of sour cream.



You can’t go past spaghetti bolognese – always make a big batch and have some on hand in the freezer!



The fastest & healthiest standby meal for our family is definitely burritos.

We pack them with lettuce, capsicum, tomato, cheese, avocado & don’t forget the fresh salsa!

My 6 year old requests them at least once a week. We all love them.



Whenever I make spag bol I do extra and freeze it. That way when i’m feeling frantic and unorganised, I can just pull it out of the freezer for a quick nutritious meal.



lasagna recipe dinner ladies
I aim to keep a healthy lasagna in the freezer… but the problem with that is they take 45 minutes to heat up!

 The fastest healthy option we do as a family is my sweetcorn and zucchini fritters, there is always a batch in the freezer enough for our little family of three to all enjoy.

My 18 month year old loves them which is great!   And there is always lettuce in our back veggie garden and we always have other salad items in the fridge.



The fastest, healthy standby meal we would have (and between soccer training, netball training, music lessons, teen’s work drop offs and two full time working parents – there are MANY! ) most often is toasted cheese sandwiches. Or standby of spag bol of course. Or toasted cheese and bolognese sandwiches. Yum, want some now.



Tuna mornay. Boil up some veg (usually pumpkin, zucchini, carrot and broccoli) in stock with rice. Drain and mix with canned tuna when cooked. Meanwhile make a basic cheese sauce from butter, flour, milk and cheese and mix in. Serve with breadcrumbs on top and put under the grill to crisp up if you can be bothered. Done in about 15 minutes. Best thing is that there’s usually some to freeze for later!



Steamed fish with homemade coleslaw – it’s fresh and easy to make



With a child who wont eat bolognese, I’m really in the hot seat!

But chorizo, red caps, spinach and cheese in an omelette goes down a treat!



Easy quick stirfry dish: one a serving of whole wheat pasta (or whole wheat couscous if I have less time, or rice if I have more time – love the rice cooker!) serve the below veggies (the pasta/couscous/rice is cooking while I prep the rest of the meal.)

I add what ever veggies I have in my fridge (this is a versatile dish – I always have carrots on hand, but also use broccoli, mushrooms, capsicum, snow peas, etc) into a stirfry pan just enough to heat them up and voila – done!

Heat up a tiny bit of oil, with garlic and ginger and cook the veggies with a healthy pour of soya sauce or teriyaki sauce (whatever Asian sauce is open at the moment).  For protein I add in firm tofu or prawns and often top with cashews or sesame seeds.



Stirfry vegetables with strips of beef or salmon and flavoured with shao hsing cooking wine. That’s the very important secret ingredient, even flavors up slightly sad vegetables. Also mirin and soy sauce



Dinner for desperate 600


Thanks so much for all these ideas….

My freezer is empty and I must make up a few batches of spag bol and macaroni cheese… and I must learn to cook friend rice and stirfry superfast.

Thanks for the inspiration, friends.

Please do leave your own top tips for fast healthy family meals in the comments. So many readers will thank you for it!

Happy cooking!

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  1. says: budget jan

    Hi Seana (I’m saying it properly now), Is there a mother/family cook out there who is not attracted to a line up of easy to cook meals? I think not. This list reminded me about Tuna Mornay – how could I forget, And I’ve never thought of salmon strips in a stir fry – I’m going to give that a try. I make a lasagne occasionally and freeze it in individual portions. They come in very handy I must say. Sometimes we use them for lunch with a salad and with a glass of wine they become a suitable meal when a girlfriend pops over too. 🙂 I understand how you feel about your Mum it would be sooo difficult when Mum lives in another country. I feel guilty when I leaving mine, who lives in the same town, to travel. She is 90 now and getting frail. But you have the plan to visit next year which is something you and she can look forward too. How lovely to have an influx of new followers 🙂

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