By Real Simple
Updated February 04, 2009
Coral Von Zumwalt

For Katherine, owner of a holistic health-counseling service, nutritious dinners are a must. Which means that even though she and her husband eat after the kids are in bed (Oliver gets home at 8 p.m. or later), the two generations have a variation of the same meal. That can be a challenge, since Katherine’s children aren’t the most adventurous eaters. “Sometimes I have to put out a new food several times before they’ll try it,” Katherine concedes.

While she’s fixing dinner, at around 5 p.m., she puts out a plate of crudités (carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, and some nuts with a cup of ranch dressing) on the kitchen island for the kids. The children munch away while they do homework. When they’re finished, they pitch in―rolling out homemade pizza dough and decorating it with vegetables, then setting the table. At about 5:30, Katherine sits down with them as they eat dinner. “I use this time to discuss nutrition. I tell them how broccoli has a lot of iron in it and will make them strong and help them in sports,” she says.

Besides mealtime shifts, Katherine employs other strategies to make sure the dinner hour goes smoothly. She prepares meals that will last more than a day, like one of her family’s favorites, Crunchy Crunchy Pasta, which is pasta with cauliflower, white Cheddar or Swiss cheese, sesame seeds, whole-wheat bread crumbs, and Parmesan. On the weekends, she does a big shopping trip and prepares her signature staples, including pureed zucchini and butternut squash (which she adds to things like scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese) and a big pot of brown rice. In the freezer, she keeps cooked rice and quinoa, salmon, tuna, chicken, and shrimp, as well as frozen meals. Katherine also relies on a repertoire of about 10 basic entrées. For instance, she cooks salmon about once a week, usually marinated in soy sauce and olive oil. “Cooking healthy does not have to be time-consuming,” she insists. “I can throw together a meal in just 20 minutes.