Food & Recipes

Quick Meals Made Better

by Rosemary Black

Quick Meals Made Better

Feel a twinge of guilt when you prepare dinner out of a can or in the microwave? Here’s how to make them healthier

Feel a twinge of guilt when you prepare dinner out of a can or in the microwave? Rest assured, you’re not nutritionally ripping off your kids by serving “instant” meals every now and then. Three moms told us their family’s favorite quickies, and we asked registered dietitian Kathleen Zelman, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, how to make them better:


“My six-year-old goes crazy for frozen pizza  — if Will had his way, we’d have it for every meal!”

-Lynn Weinig, Pleasantville, NY

The good news: Cheese has calcium; tomato sauce has vitamin A and lycopene.

To make it better: Go for plain or veggie toppings. Serve with a crunchy green salad.

Best bets: Tombstone Light Veggie Pizza, Healthy Choice Vegetable French Bread Pizza


“My two kids, Emily, three, and Eric, four, can’t get enough mac and cheese, so it’s become an easy standby.”

-Leighann Krenz, Akron, OH

The good news: It has protein and up to 20 percent of a day’s worth of calcium.

To make it better: To lower fat, prepare with skim milk and skip the butter. Serve with carrot sticks to boost beta-carotene and a whole-wheat roll for more fiber.

Best bets: Kraft Deluxe 2% Milk Macaroni and Cheese, Annie’s Whole Wheat Shells & Cheddar


“Sabrina, 2, loves canned ravioli and pasta, but I’m wondering how I can give them more nutritional ‘oomph.'”

-Jennifer Katz, Weston, FL

The good news: They’re low in fat and many are fortified with such nutrients as thiamine, riboflavin, and folic acid.

To make them better:  Mix in frozen or chopped-up cooked veggies and serve with a glass of skim milk to add calcium.

Best bets: Chef Boyardee 99% Fat Free Cheese Ravioli, Spaghetti-Os Plus Calcium