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5 Easy (but healthy!) family meal ideas

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Eat well right now

On busy nights when dinnertime comes faster than ideas, there's nothing better than a quick, easy and healthy meal to feed the masses before they start rioting. These five meals are perfect for those times.

Family meal night

1Go fish.

Even if you think you're not a fish fan, give it another try. Fish is a healthy, quick-to-prepare food that doesn't require a lot of work to make it taste great.

"Make sure it's fresh. They even have great frozen fish selections these days where freshly caught fish are immediately frozen and packaged," says Jared Meacham, a fitness lifestyle coach who blogs at JaredMeacham.com. Also, seasoning matters. "Some fish need almost no seasoning, while others taste amazing with it. Try garlic pepper, lemon pepper, fresh lemon or lime juice, or just some sea salt and pepper. By properly seasoning it, you can make fish taste amazing," says Meacham.

2Revamp leftovers.

People who say they hate leftovers are missing out. When treated properly, they can be transformed from last night's side dish into tonight's culinary delight.

"Create a whole new meal by adding last night's vegetables (raw or cooked) along with pesto, olives and sun-dried tomatoes to a vibrant pasta salad or delicious lasagna. Leftover lean proteins pair well with fresh cooked pasta. Add some lemon zest, low-fat ricotta cheese, roasted tomatoes and basil to top. Delish," says Candice Kumai, author of The Pretty Delicious Cookbook and ambassador for the National Pasta Association's Pasta Fits campaign.

3Turkey meatballs with roasted good stuff

You can buy turkey meatballs premade and ready to go, making them an easy and economical healthy food for a fast dinner. "[Try] turkey meatballs cooked in marinara sauce and baked French fries. I use both russet and sweet potatoes, served with oven-roasted (super-sweet) veggies," says Erin Macdonald, R.D., nutritionist, mom of four and cofounder of urockgirl.com.

Looking for a quick and waist-friendly vegetarian pasta dish? Try Healthy & Easy Pasta Primavera >>

4Make your own taco salads.

You've probably heard that taco salads aren't the healthiest, and that's true -- especially if you serve yours in a big, fried shell. Make a healthier version by nixing the shell and offering a selection of toppings including taco meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, avocados, olives and more. Focusing heavily on the fresh veggies will round out the less healthy parts.

Try serving it with homemade Mexican salsa >>

5Go stir-fry crazy.

Stir-fry is a great dinner whenever you are short on time. Make up a batch of brown rice (look for frozen brown rice that can be heated up in just minutes). While the rice is cooking, quickly stir-fry leftover veggies, frozen veggies or whatever you have fresh in a little cooking oil spray. Add garlic, ginger and soy sauce for flavor, then serve over the rice. Toss in any cooked chicken or steak you might have, too.

For something a little different, try Tuna Stir-Fry Over Rice Noodles >>

More tips for healthy meals

Healthy meal planning on a budget
5 Simple, healthy food swaps
Healthy eating habits for busy families

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