(Family Features) - With after school activities, late workdays and long commutes or carpools, many families struggle to find time to sit down together to eat dinner. When they do, the meal may consist of prepackaged or fast food options, which can increase food costs and skimp on good nutrition.
What's a busy parent to do? While a home cooked weeknight meal may sound labor-intensive, it can really payoff economically, nutritionally and environmentally - all in the form of leftovers.
Child nutrition expert and mother Jodie Shield, RD, understands the challenges families face in trying to balance full calendars and tight checkbooks while serving nutritious and delicious meals. "Busy moms don't always have time to plan ahead and make two meals each day," said Shield. "Transforming last night's dinner into tomorrow's brown bag lunch, for my kids or myself, can save time and maximize budgets without cutting corners on nutrition."
Shield's tips - which incorporate plenty of nutritious vegetables - will help parents prepare family meals that stretch from dinner to lunch:
Presto, chango! Transform last night's meatloaf into tasty tacos - crumble ground beef or turkey and sauté with taco seasoning. Enjoy wrapped in a soft whole-wheat tortilla or layered over shredded lettuce as a salad; add diced tomato and onions, low-fat cheese and a drizzle of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Light Dressing.
Kids like 'em hot! Reheat leftover vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, sweet potato or snap beans) in the oven at 400° F for about 10 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then serve warm with ranch dressing to dip.
Get egg-cited for dinner! Serve your family a backward breakfast for dinner. Use leftover veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and new potatoes, and whip up a southwestern omelet, frittata or quiche.
For more great recipes, creative nutrition tips and fun activities, visit LoveYourVeggies.com.