So it seems like the general consensus in the comments section of yesterday’s post was to keep the grocery store/menu planning posts going. Glad to know you all enjoy the ideas and planning tips because I really like writing them, too! Bargain shopping and menu planning are two things I have a knack for, so I’m happy to share I just wanted to make sure you all didn’t feel like it was overkill.
And honestly, it helps me stay on point and put a little more thought into planning than I would otherwise so its win-win! The only problem will be that starting in April/May when farmer’s markets open, I’m going to start to do a lot of my produce shopping there so I won’t be doing all my shopping on the weekends, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Quick Meal Ideas
This week I’ve had an especially busy week, but have still managed to prepare all my meals at home! Monday night I was at work late, so didn’t get home until 7:30, and last night and tonight I have Weight Watchers meetings, so won’t get home until 8:30/9. I much prefer getting home at 5:30/6 and having the night free to putz around the kitchen and relax, but I don’t always get that luxury.
Weeks like this make cooking at home a real challenge, but with a little planning and enough ingredients on hand for a quick meal, its quite doable. I make sure to always have enough staples on hand with a long enough shelf life that I can make a balanced meal just by digging through my pantry, freezer, and into the depths of the fridge. Sometimes this is planned like when I know I have something going on and will get home late, but sometimes things come up and I walk in the door later than planned and hungry!
Some things you can always find in my kitchen for quick meals:
- Canned Tuna (in water)
- Canned Beans (Chickpeas, kidney beans, pintos)
- Cheese (Shredded, goat, sliced, babybels)
- Soba Noodles
- Corn Tortillas
- Frozen Veggies
- Sweet Potatoes
- Greek Yogurt
- English Muffins/Bread of Choice
Having a few quick to throw together, but still healthy meal ideas can be a life saver in a lot of situations. Or, if you just don’t love to be in the kitchen but still want to cook for yourself, all of these ideas are on the table in less than 15 minutes, some a lot less.
- Linguini with Clam Sauce – Cook 1 serving of linguini or spaghetti (preferably whole wheat). While that is cooking, add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 clove crushed garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and some fresh parsley if you have it on hand. Next add in a whole can of clams with their juice, and let simmer until the pasta is done. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the white clam sauce, and toss to combine. Garnish with fresh parmesan. (8 pts+)
- Tempeh Tacos – Grate a block of tempeh on a cheese grater, and combine with a sautéed onion and a packet of taco seasoning (I love Trader Joe’s brand!). Let cook for about 10 minutes and serve over a salad or with tortillas and all the fixings. (11 pts+ for entire filling recipe)
- Buffalo Tofu – This one does need a little planning because you want to press the tofu ahead of time. I have a TofuXpress (which I hiiiiiiiighly recommend if you eat tofu) so I just placed the tofu in there in the morning, and then when I got home I was eating within 10 minutes. If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap the block in paper towels and place on a plate with another heavy plate or pan on top. Once the tofu is pressed, heat a pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Cut tofu into desired size and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently until it’s browned on all sides. Place the cooked tofu in a tupperware container and add in a generous amount of Frank’s Red Hot, cover the container and shake. Top with crumbled blue cheese and serve with celery and/or over a salad. (1/4 block of regular organic firm tofu with 1 oz. crumbled blue cheese = 6 pts+)
- Microwaved Sweet Potato with Black Beans – Wash and poke holes with a fork into a sweet potato, cover with a wet paper towel and microwave on high 6-8 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, open a can of black beans (or chickpeas, kidney beans, refried beans, baked beans, etc), rinse them, and add 1/2 a cup to the potato once it’s done. Top with salsa, goat cheese, greek yogurt, or any combination of toppings. Serve with a salad or steamed veggies (from the freezer!). (6 pts+ for a large sweet potato with 1/2 cup beans plus pts+ in toppings)
- Egg scramble – Eggs are great any time of day. Beat 1 egg with 2-3 egg whites and set aside. Take frozen veggies and heat through in a pan with nonstick spray. Once veggies are defrosted, pour in egg mixture and cook until eggs set. Add in fresh herbs, crumble goat cheese or feta on top, or serve with salsa. Toast on the side, and you have a rounded meal. (7 pts+ for 1 egg, 3 egg whites, veggies, 1 oz soft goat cheese, 1 slice ezekial toast)
- Tuna Pasta Salad – This one is great made ahead of time (and also what I had for dinner last night!). Cook 1 serving of whole wheat pasta and rinse with cool water. Mix it with a drained can of tuna, light mayo or greek yogurt, and chopped celery, carrots, and/or onions. (9 pts+ for 1 serving pasta, 1 can water packed tuna, 1 tbsp light mayo, celery and red onion)
- Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce – Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are DELICIOUS, plus ook in just 6-8 minutes. While the sobas are cooking, defrost asian veggie mix in the microwave. While the veggies and noodles are cooking, make my peanut sauce and toss everything together. The peanut sauce and noodles pack enough protein to make this a complete meal. (7 pts+)
- Black Bean Quesadillas – Heat a pan with nonstick spray and add in a corn tortilla, flipping so both sides are heated. Add in 1 serving of shredded cheese, 1/4 cup of black beans, 1/4 cup of frozen corn, and 2 scallions, chopped, and cover with other tortilla. Flip once tortilla begins to brown and continue to cook until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy. Serve with salsa, greek yogurt (extra protein!) and a salad for an extra veggie kick. (7 pts+ if served with 1/3 cup greek yogurt)
- Spiced Lentil Mushroom Tacos – If you use canned lentils like I did for this recipe, it will take 10 minutes from start to finish. You basically cook mushroom, onion, and garlic, then add in the lentils with taco seasoning and cook until the flavors combine. It’s almost scary how meat like this taco filling is! (8 pts+ for entire filling recipe)
- Mexican Mashed Beans – Take 1/2 cup of pinto beans and combine with 1/4 cup of salsa and 1 tsp of cumin. Mash and place on a toasted english muffin. Top with 1 serving of cheddar or mexican cheese and microwave or broil for 5 minutes until cheese is melted/crispy. (7 pts+ with english muffin, 1/2 cup beans, and RF cheese)
- Eggy Pasta – One of my favorites. Cook a serving of pasta, and while that is going heat oil and garlic in a pan with any herbs you’d like. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan with the oil and garlic, and crack an egg directly into the pasta. Stir quickly to cook the egg through and it will coat the pasta with an almost alfredo-esque sauce. (9 pts+ with 2 oz pasta, 1 tsp oil, 1 egg, and 1 tbsp Parmesan)
Hopefully that gives you a few quick ideas that are a little outside the box!
What is your go-to meal to make when you’re running low on time?