Meals in a Minivan: Fast Healthy Meals for Busy Families

Today families are busy with hockey practice, dance lessons, gymnastics, swim teams and soccer clubs and, while I personally think it is a good thing to keep kids busy, I see the healthy family weeknight dinner sliding by the wayside. There is a booming market for prepared meals, packaged snacks and line-ups at the drive thru’s, proof that in our haste to feed a family, convenience sometimes wins over nutrition.

I have 3 active daughters and a couple nights a week I am on the road from school pick up at 3:30 until well after 8pm. The older they get, the longer some of their classes go – 2 hours of dance or 3 hours of gymnastics for one of the kids is common.

Not wanting to send them to their activities on an empty stomach, I began getting more creative with my after school snacks on the road. Knowing crackers and cheese wasn’t a nutritious enough dinner to keep them going for a 3 hour stretch, it wasn’t long before Meals In A Minivan was born.

As long as I planned a bit ahead, had freezer or microwave ready meals and had a 10 minute window at home, I could show up after school or between activities with a hot and nutritious meal they could eat on the road.

More than just a granola bar and cut up fruit, Meals In A Minivan provide the kids with protein, fibre, calcium, grains and the vitamins they need to support their growing bodies and the energy they need for their activities after school. By giving them mini-meals instead of huge snacks, they avoid sugary carbs, packaged foods and it helps prevent any dips in energy all evening, right up to the last pick up of the night.

These healthy and quick mini-meals work when served in a minivan or even at home when time for dinner is scarce and you need to get everyone fed and out the door fast.

Meal_in_minivan_shrimp1-impGarlic Shrimp, Noodles & Green Beans

Cook whole wheat Egg Noodles
Toss green beans in with noodles for last 2 mins to cook
Pan fry small shrimp with butter and garlic
Drain water from noodles and beans
Mix with shrimp and top with parmesan cheese.


Tuna Melt
 & Carrots

Start with whole grain bun
Top with tuna mixed with avocado or mayonnaise
Add grated cheddar and broil until edges brown
Boil or steam some cut carrots


Chicken Panini with Sweet Potato Fries  

Using whole grain bread, cheddar cheese and nitrate free chicken slices, assemble a sandwich
Place in Panini Press until cheese is melted
Cook sweet potato fries as directed or make your own
Add a few apple slices and a side of ketchup.


Meal_in_minivan_chilibun1-impChilli on a Bun, Cucumber, Apple slices
 and Peas

Leftover chilli or stew is great in a whole grain mini bun
Add a slice of cheddar, apple and cucumber slices
And a side of cooked peas



Meal_in_minivan_pizza1-impChicken Pizza, Raw Veggies and Hummus

Use a tortilla or pita for base, add sauce, cubes of cooked chicken and grated mozzarella cheese.
Cook in 400 degree oven until cheese meted.
Add raw vegetables sliced for dipping
Use a small dish or silicon muffin cup to hold hummus for dip



Whole Wheat Macaroni & Cheese With 

Meal_in_minivan_macaroni1-impPrepare this homemade Mac n Cheese sauce on a weekend and store in the freezer for quick weekday meals.

Defrost and heat Cheese sauce
Cook whole wheat noodles
Add broccoli to boiling water for last 2 mins
Drain noodles and serve broccoli mixed with cheese sauce or separate.


Meal_in_minivan_eggs1-impMini Cauliflower Quiche, Whole Wheat Bun & Almonds

Beat 5 eggs, add in chopped cauliflower or broccoli
Add 1 cup of cottage cheese
Add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pour into lined (I use silicon cups) muffin tins
Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-20 mins until cooked.
Can be prepared on weekend, frozen and re heated during the week.


Enjoy. Do you have any other fast meals we can add that are healthy and ready in a hurry when the kids have activities after school?