4 easy meals you can make in 30 minutes

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 22, 2017
When you're the caregiver for someone who has dementia, they rely on you for a lot of their needs.
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When you're a family caregiver, meal planning can be hectic.

From upkeep of the house, laundry, keeping track of doctor appointments and cooking meals, there's a lot of responsibility that rests on your shoulders. As such, you may not always have enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things you want, or need to.

Nutrition is a crucial element of your loved one's health, however. You need to make sure they're eating enough and getting nutritional meals. But this doesn't have to be a time-consuming task. Try one of these 30-minute meals to save time:

1. Honey-Dijon Sheet Pan Chicken
Sheet-pan dinners are always an efficient choice. It only takes a couple of minutes to prep all the ingredients for your dish, put them together on one tray and then pop it in the oven. You then have 20 to 30 minutes to take care of anything else you need to do around the house, or just sit down and enjoy a well-deserved break. 

This particular recipe from Buzzfeed includes lean chicken and some hearty root vegetables for a balanced meal that will be good for the whole family:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 medium red bliss potatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary, thyme or sage, divided
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425F. 

Pat your chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Lay the potatoes and carrots on your sheet pan. Add half the olive oil, half the herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss together.

In a large bowl, combine remaining oil with honey and Dijon. Add the rest of the herbs and some salt and pepper. 

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel again to remove any residual moisture. Add them to the bowl and toss in the dressing until coated.

Place the chicken on the sheet pan, spreading the potatoes and carrots out around it.

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken, until it's no longer pink in the middle or the internal temperature reads 165F on a meat thermometer. 

Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve. 

Roasted chicken is a healthy protein to prepare for dinner.Roasted chicken is a healthy protein to prepare for dinner.

2. Pecan Crusted Pork Chops With Honey Balsamic Veggies
Did we mention how convenient sheet-pan dinners are? This recipe comes from Simply Sissom, and uses heart-healthy pecans to coat these delicious pork chops. Vitamin-rich carrots, Brussels sprouts and yellow potatoes help make this a well-rounded, healthful meal. 

The original recipe takes closer to 45 minutes than 30, so you may want to prepare your marinade ahead of time or get a ready-use sauce to shave several minutes off your preparation!

Ingredients:

  • 4 center-cut pork chops
  • 8 oz baby potatoes, chopped
  • 8 oz Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. 

To make the marinade, combine balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup Dijon, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl, or shake up in a tightly sealed mason jar.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the eggs with the remaining Dijon.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix chopped pecans with paprika, salt and pepper.

Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss pork chops in the eggs until they're coated on all sides. Transfer to the pecan bowl and liberally coat. 

Lay the vegetables onto a sheet pan and coat with your marinade. Push veggies to either side of the pan to make room for the pork chops in the middle.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of your pork chops until they are no longer pink in the middle or reach an internal temperature of 160F on a meat thermometer. 

Let rest for 5 minutes and then serve.

3. Lemon-Lime Salmon with Veggie Saute
Salmon is a great protein to use in your dishes. Oily fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain health. The brightly-colored veggies and sweet zing of the citrus in this recipe from Taste of Home make this a great weeknight meal for the summer. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 4-oz salmon filets
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 10-oz package of frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, halved 
  • 2 cups cut asparagus
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. 

Place salmon in a baking dish. Add lemon juice, lime juice, seafood seasoning and salt.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until filets easily flake with a fork.

While the salmon cooks, heat a large skillet to medium. Add olive oil.

Saute peppers and onions for 3 minutes. 

Add corn, mushrooms and asparagus. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tarragon.

Plate salmon and veggies and then serve.

Prepare heart-healthy salmon for your loved one. Prepare heart-healthy salmon for your loved one.

4. Penne with Butternut Squash
This hearty recipe from the Food Network is chock-full of nutrients and flavor. It takes only 15 minutes of work to prepare and is table-ready in half an hour! Crushed red pepper adds an extra kick, but be sure to season the pasta to yours and your loved one's tastes.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz whole wheat or multigrain penne
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups diced, peeled butternut squash
  • 12 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, or half red onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, or 3 tsp dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.

Add penne and cook until al dente, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Reserve one cup of pasta water, then drain.

While pasta boils, heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add half of the olive oil.

Add squash, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, or until squash is tender and golden-brown. Transfer to plate and set aside.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Saute mushroom with salt and pepper for about 5 minutes or until lightly brown.

Stir in garlic, shallots or onions and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2 minutes or until the shallots or onions are soft. 

Add penne, squash and 1/2 cup pasta water to the skillet. Cook until thoroughly heated for about 2 minutes. 

Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Slowly add remaining pasta water until cheese is no longer thick and stringy. 

Add oregano, salt and pepper. Top with the remaining cheese and serve.