Quick Tips For Healthy Meals

With limited time available in the evening, it can be easy to assume that the best at-home dinner options are prepackaged meals. But many of these quick meals are simply premixed versions of meals that are healthier when you put them together yourself.

You can find healthy recipes in cookbooks or on other websites, but you don’t always need recipes to make quick meals. Fast, healthy eating is often a simple matter of mixing and matching a handful of staple ingredients that work well together and provide a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins.

In that spirit, below are a few quick tips for healthy meals. Using only the following staples and ingredients, you can make enough easy meals to have a different fifteen-minute dinner each night for at least five days.

Staples:

  • Angel hair pasta (whole wheat pasta is healthier than white)
  • Canned white or kidney beans
  • Minute rice (brown is healthier than white)
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Pasta sauce, tomato
  • Soy sauce (low-sodium).

Fresh Ingredients:

  • Bread (again, choose whole wheat over white)
  • Cheese (opt for a minimally-processed or low-fat cheese)
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fresh spinach
  • Ground turkey
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes.

Day one:

Heat your skillet and add a trickle of olive oil. Cut the chicken into pieces and toss it into the skillet, stirring until lightly brown. Stir the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes into the chicken and serve over pasta.

Day two:

Chop an onion and stir it into the lightly oiled skillet. Add the ground turkey meat, stir until brown, add tomato sauce, beans and shredded spinach and serve with bread.

Day three:

Prepare minute rice. Heat the skillet and add oil and chopped onions. Stir in the prepared rice. Push the rice to the side and crack an egg on the floor of the skillet. Scramble it lightly, then mix the egg and rice together. Add peas. Season lightly with soy sauce.

Day four:

Add butter oil and chopped onions to a hot skillet. Pour in lightly beaten eggs. Add spinach, peas and chopped tomatoes. Flip the whole thing over once and add some cheese. Serve with whole wheat bread, spinach salad and soy sauce.

Day five:

What’s left in your pantry? First, do an inventory. Next, select a grain base, consider the proteins and vegetables available and then find a way to pair them with the base. This pairing principle is as simple and healthy as it has been for generations, but these days–when everyone seems to be short on time–the following considerations may be helpful:

  • Keeping your pans on the top of the range and out of the oven can shorten preparation times. Aside from meat, most foods don’t need to be heated very long or to very high temperatures. And remember, meat browns faster in a pan when it’s cut into small pieces.
  • A small amount of olive oil can make Oil and butter blend seemingly incompatible foods deliciously. Experiment with themit, but since they’re it’s high in fat, use both sparingly.
  • The selective addition of cheese or sauce can change the entire tone of any meal.
  • Vegetables maintain most of their nutritional value when minimally cooked, making them simple, healthy and quick. Lightly cooked or raw vegetables are easiest to add to your menu in the spring and summer when vegetables are seasonal.

The more you mix things together, the further your ingredients will stretch. By being creative with additions and proportions, you can generate a wide variety of quick meals using a very simple set of fresh ingredients.

Resources

Bittman, M. (2007). The minimalist–summer express–101 simple meals ready in ten minutes or less. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/dining/18mini.html?ref=mark_bittman

RealSimple.com. (2010). Dinner in fifteen minutes flat. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/dinner-15-minutes-selections/index.html