Alliance for Potato Research & Education
August 26, 2015 by Holley Grainger, MS, RD

Dinnertime Dilemmas, Solved!

Now that school is back in full swing, it’s time for families to do their homework by getting ahead in the kitchen and planning nutritious meals that everyone will enjoy eating. Being prepared by planning meals, making lists, keeping healthy groceries in the house, prepping ingredients in advance, and choosing foods the family loves are my top strategies to help busy families tackle dinnertime dilemmas. These five tried-and-true tips and five 30-minutes-or-less meals from are sure to make the grade week after week. 

  1. Serve Foods the Family Loves: It’s important to remember that healthy meals aren’t nutritious unless they are consumed. Vegetables in particular can be a challenge at family meals, which is why I love potatoes as a pantry staple. Potatoes in all forms are a “win-win” for children and parents, delivering great taste and nutrition at home and at school. A new study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences suggests that schools may be able to reduce plate waste and save foodservice dollars by optimizing entrée and vegetable pairings. In fact, the study found that four out of five of the food pairings with the lowest overall plate waste involved potatoes! So why not take that newfound knowledge and apply it to your kitchen at home? Whether you make potatoes the base of your entrée or let them star as a side dish, they’re a kid-friendly, affordable, and nutritious way to help your family eat their veggies and get more of the potassium and fiber they need every day.
  2. Plan Your Meals: Whether you plan all three meals a day for the next week, focus only on dinners, or focus on meals for only one or two days at a time, making a meal strategy and sticking to it will help relieve extra pressure and stress each night when 6 pm rolls around and the family is scavenging for food.
  3. Make a Grocery List: Once you have a general idea of what you want to cook that week, make your grocery list. Often the meal planning and grocery list can be done simultaneously to plan around what’s on sale. A list will also keep you on target in the store to help save time and money and minimize waste.
  4. Keep a Well-Stocked Fridge and Freezer: On those nights that plans change, you will need a quick and portable meal. Whether you make double batches of recipes when you have time or rely on staples like frozen vegetables or oven-baked fries to round out a meal, having some dinnertime favorites in the freezer will help ease the pressure in the evening.
  5. Prep Ingredients Ahead: Choose one day (maybe when you get home from the grocery store) to wash, chop, freeze, bake, boil, etc. If you’re prepping ingredients for dinner one night and know you may want them for a snack or lunch later that week, double chop and store the extras. When your ingredients are already prepped, it makes mealtime that much easier. 

Make sure to add these five nutrient-rich potato recipes into your back-to-school dinnertime menu rotation. Each recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish and uses very few ingredients. 

  • Potato Pizza: Combine two family favorites—potatoes and pizza—into one homemade dinner the entire family can agree on. 
  • Potato and Chorizo Dobladas: Four ingredients never tasted so good! Whether you use leftover mashed potatoes or make your own just for this recipe, you can’t beat the ease of combining them with chorizo in a tortilla and then pan frying for a satisfying, family-favorite dinner. 
  • Rainbow Potato Pancakes: Kids will “flip” for these flavorful pancakes named for their colorful ingredients. They won’t even notice they’re getting one full cup of vegetables in each serving! 
  • Southwest Potatoes and Chicken: There are no excuses when it comes to this recipe! The entire dish is prepared in the microwave. Better yet, it uses only five ingredients. 
  • Potato Crusted Salmon with Cucumber-Feta Sauce: Use either frozen or fresh hash brown potatoes as a crispy salmon topper in this Mediterranean favorite.