It's a weekday evening and I'm standing in my kitchen. Our dogs Princess and Buddie are chasing each other around the island, my daughter Emily is looking for a notebook she needs for her homework, and her sister Samantha is finishing violin practice -- with gusto. Everyone, including my husband Rick, is starving, the clock is ticking, and I am just about to see if I can find something deep in the bottom of the freezer to shove in the microwave, or failing that, to pick up the phone for takeout, when I stop myself. I'm the Sneaky Chef for crying out loud! I've written five books on how to feed families healthfully and deliciously. I dream in menu plans, can recite nutritious shopping lists by heart, and have a pantry that's stocked with good-for-you choices. But what I don't have is time. So, I slow down -- deep breath -- and remind myself: I don't need lots of time. Quick meals kids will gobble up are at our fingertips.
The problem with a lot of convenience foods is that convenience compromises nutrition. If you're in a hurry and not paying close attention, the processed foods you're likely to buy will be loaded with excess calories, sodium, fat, and sugar. Often what's fast is unhealthy and unsatisfying. In the end, the time you save just won't be worth it. That's why I've made it my mission to make recipes that are speedy -- for the benefit of my family and any other parent who feels the mealtime frazzle like I do.
So don't throw in the kitchen towel yet. The answer to your time-crunch is an extension of my tried-and-true philosophy: put extra healthy ingredients into the packaged and prepared foods your kids already love. They'll eat it, and you'll be the only one who knows that they're getting a boost of crucial vitamins, minerals, fiber, omega-3s and more.
Here are 10 superfast, supercharged Speedy Sneaky Chef recipes that you can cook in under 2-minutes flat (of course, I've designed the prep time to be minimal as well):
Adapted from "The Speedy Sneaky Chef: Quick, Healthy Fixes for Your Favorite Packaged Foods" by Missy Chase Lapine. Published by Running Press.