My first real post on Celeste Cooks Healthy! Yay!
Today I am going to talk about my basic quick dinner plan. It's my "I need dinner 20 minutes ago and I am tempted to get take out or go out what can I do?" plan. It involves keeping some basic stuff stocked in my pantry and freezer and:
It is simple.
It is easy.
It is good.
It is healthy as you wanna make it!
Basic plan is- 1 lean protein, a veggie or two, a complex carb. I tend to have 1/4 meat/protein. 1/4 carb and 1/2 veggie.
I usually keep a box of individually wrapped tilapia fillets in the freezer that I can quick thaw with warm water. Chicken breast tenders are good too- they can often be cooked from frozen. Thin cut pork chop cutlets (lean cuts of course!), ground turkey, canned beans and canned tuna are also staples in my kitchen. I stock up on frozen veggies like they're going out of style, and I get fresh when I can although I've learned to only buy what I am going to use in the next day or two- too many times have I had veggies go bad before I can get to them. Canned tomatoes are fantastic to have on hand as well as being the only canned vegetables I will eat. And finaly the complex carbs- whole grain pasta, brown rice, potatoes, whole grain tortillas, and so on. Basically think as close to how it grew as possible- whole grain, unprocessed unbleached etc..
Some of my favorite in a pinch meals?
Take some tilapia fillets, sprinkle them with some lemon pepper seasoning, put em on a cookie sheet misted with cooking spray (and/or lined with foil) bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. While that's going on steam some veggies and make some brown rice (I admit I use uncle ben's ready rice- the brown rice is actually not bad!) and voila- a healthy dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. And good for you too! Try some lemon juice on the broccoli and rice instead of butter- tons of flavor for next to no extra calories.
Sautee some chicken breast tenders with some garlic, wrap up with some fat free or low fat cheese, spinach or baby greens, tomatoes and some low cal ranch in a whole wheat tortilla. Tastes fantastic and has plenty of protein and fiber to fill you up and keep you that way. Add whatever floats your taste bud's boats to this one as long as they aren't loaded with fat and calories. Sprouts, mushrooms, nuts or seeds, etc... This is also fantastic done greek style- feta cheese, vinegrette, slivered red onion, some chopped kalamata olives etc...
Baked potatoes with broccoli and turkey bacon, add some fat free or low fat cheese, sauteed onion (did you know you can sautee in broth? Just learned that one recently) fat free sour cream, salsa etc...
Turkey chili- make your favorite chili recipe with extra veggies and substitute ground turkey for the beef. (added benefit- studies show that spicy foods can help you to eat fewer calories)
And so on.
Find what works for your family and stock up on staples that will keep well. It's SO much better to eat at home than go out or get take out. Your wallet AND waistline will thank you!
Now, sometimes when I get home I just don't have the patience or time or energy to cook myself something. I work swing shift so I don't get home till after 10 pm most nights. On those nights I resort to *gasp!* frozen dinners!!! Now, hear me out, this makes sense I promise! Here's my reasoning-
1. Frozen dinners are portion controlled.
2. They are fast and easy.
3. They are cheaper than a take out meal and way less calories.
Of course you can't expect to do well on them all the time, and certainly DON'T go out and get the XXL hungry guy dinners either. This is a stop gap better than something else option. Look for meals that are less than 400 calories, relatively low in fat, have enough protein and fiber and have plenty of veggies. The best ones that I have found are Kashi. They taste good, have ingredient lists that read like recipes instead of lab experiments and are fairly well balanced nutritionally. I've been known to grab some Healthy Choice meals as well. The steamer bowl ones are good. Bear in mind that I only eat about 2 or 3 of these things in a week, and usually on days that I am working. They've gotta be better than chili cheese fries or pizza right?
So, what are some quick, easy, healthy emergency meals for you?