New recipes may not be happening much in my kitchen with a new baby, but I am still always brainstorming new meals, especially ones that are easy to put together. Taking advantage of store bought items can help with the time, ease, and flavor, whether you have a new baby at home or are tired from a long workday. For me, this means actually getting lunch together and eaten with a clingy baby strapped to my body. It also means few ingredients to buy when making meals while on vacation or travelling. And it also makes meals customizable to multiple picky palates. So don’t think meal planning and prep has to be all from scratch! Semi-homemade can be just as healthy and nutritious.
Here are a few of my go-to semi-homemade meals for those busy nights.
Avocado Kale Salad
Take a bag of sweet kale chopped salad mix (the one with shredded Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, and pepitas) and toss the salad dressing. Add in some extra fresh chopped kale or spinach for bulk. Slice a small avocado and add to greens along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a shake of salt and pepper. Massage kale with hands to rub the avocado in and soften leaves. Leave some avocado chunks for texture in the salad. Add a cup of chickpeas or tofu for protein, and any random produce you want to use up from the fridge (celery, apples, green onions, or broccoli all work great). Divide into two portions and serve.
Veggie Stir Fry
Grab a bag of raw or frozen stir fry veggies. Toss in skillet over high heat until heated through and slightly browned. Add in a protein of choice plus a cup of your favorite stir fry sauce (or make your own with equal parts soy sauce, hoisen sauce, and water plus a drizzle of lime juice, agave nectar, and sriracha for kick). Serve over rice (I usually keep frozen brown rice on hand for quick meal nights).
Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal
Did you know you can buy precooked, frozen, steel cut oats? No more standing over the stove stirring while they cook forever! I’ve seen flavored varieties but you can also get plain oats cooked with water. And when ready to eat, just thaw and heat up. Add a swirl of almond butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a handful of fresh blueberries, and you’ve got a filling and satisfying breakfast in a flash.
Pumped Up Pasta
Clean out the fridge by taking any random veggies you have, steam them, and puree them with a little water or vegetable stock in a blender or food processor. You can also puree some cooked white beans for a protein punch. Add to a jar of spaghetti sauce and heat together on the stove. Serve over your favorite pasta. Hidden veggies for picky eaters is a bonus! All the extra fiber and protein will give staying power and a homemade taste to the standard jarred sauce and spaghetti.
Happy Semi-Homemade Cooking!