Kate Neeley
contributing writer

Dinner. It’s an everyday thing. Something you look forward to and dread all in the same moment, right?

It’s gotta happen, and life in the evening is busier than ever for families. The occasional Little Caesars “Hot and Ready” pizza makes total sense sometimes, but cooking meals at home has incredible benefits as well. Health, connection, decreased risk for teens, more affordable … yada yada, you know what I’m talking about. Please don’t run away thinking this is another guilt trip!! You’ve got this! Although the Leave It to Beaver ideal of everyone around the table together is dreamy, it is probably not practical for a lot of families.

Can you still offer some really good things to your family by finding a way to incorporate cooking nutritious meals at home? I certainly think so. It’s not all or nothing. Just cook when you can and every little bit helps.

Even when you’re on-the-go and likely eating in shifts, there’s just something so grounding about the aroma of a homecooked meal in  your house. Find a way to make the food. Some can be left in a crockpot to simmer. Some you can prepare in the morning or afternoon before the carpool circus begins and then have plates ready to grab as they can.

How can you make it happen? As a certified nutrition coach and busy mom of three active kids, I often share tools and tips to help my nutrition clients. I’m happy to pass on some of them to you!

Here are some ideas that will help take the decision fatigue out of choosing what to make, and they’re all resources I trust for good nutrition as well:

EMEALS emeals.com

Choose “Quick and Healthy” plan. I love this subscription. It lines up meals for the week, you select which ones you want, then it connects with the Walmart Pickup App and loads your cart with all the ingredients for your meals. Review your cart in case you already have some ingredients.

CITRUS PEAR citruspear.com

These are freezer meals that you can go to a class to assemble and bring them home to freeze, or you can order them to be delivered. Primary prep for these meals is in the crockpot or instant pot, and they are all designed by registered dietitians. I have really liked almost every one of these meals that I’ve tried. Nutrition information is printed right in the front of the meal bag or available on the website.

HOME CHEF homechef.com

These meal kits cost a little more, but are extremely convenient. They deliver the box to your door with all the ingredients and recipe cards. You get the app, and then can select meal styles — carb-conscious and calorie-conscious meals are usually good — just check for protein content to make sure it’s going to give you at least 25-30 grams of protein in each serving (If you want to try it, I have a $35 off code katen64).

MACRO FRIENDLY FOOD macrofriendlyfood.com

I LOVE Elyse Ellis’s recipes. All of them are super good, and easy to track if you log macros because they’re all pre-logged in the MyFitnessPal app. She has dinner recipes, lunch, and snack ideas. I get a lot of ideas from her!

LILLIE EATS AND TELLS lillieeatsandtells.com

Lillie Eats and Tells uses so many bright colors and flavorful sauces! Lillie has a flare for fresh, clean, whole food. This girl is a genius and she also provides all the macro information for her recipes.

When in doubt and have no meal planned, you can follow this pattern for a balanced meal:

1. Pick your protein (chicken, fish, beef, etc)
2. Choose a carb (brown rice, potatoes, roll, etc)
3. Pick a fat for flavor (sauces, condiments, etc)
4. “Pad your plate” with tons of veggies and/or fruits


If you’re in the market for some 1:1 coaching, Kate is a NASM certified nutrition coach and offers programs to help people learn to use nutrition to meet their long-term fitness and body goals. Find her and lots of “snack of the day” ideas on Instagram @kate.neeley.coaching