Effective meal planning must encompass the nights when you need to get dinner on the table for yourself and/or your family in 15 minutes or less. If we have the right ingredients on hand we can always answer the question “What’s for dinner tonight?”
Below is a list of some of my favorite quick proteins, starches and vegetables. A healthy meal can combine all these into a well-portioned “balanced plate”: ¼ protein, ¼ starch and ½ vegetables.
Leftovers or rotisserie chicken, precooked chicken sausage (Adele’s or Trader Joes), precooked turkey kielbasa, canned and rinsed LS beans, eggs, tofu, frozen edamame, precooked veggie or salmon patties, canned tuna or salmon, frozen turkey meatballs
Frozen microwaveable rice, microwaved sweet or russet potato, frozen peas or corn, roast a bag of pre-cut squash, sweet potato or fingerling potatoes, microwaved spaghetti squash, frozen grain blends, couscous (takes 5 minutes to cook), quinoa or white rice (15 minutes to cook), whole wheat pitas/tortillas/bread
Frozen: broccoli, asparagus, pepper strips, Brussels sprouts, frozen specialty blends with or without sauce (TJ’s has a lot of interesting blends), bag of broccoli slaw (add raisins/craisins, sunflower seeds and poppy seed dressing), bag of prewashed and cut veggies (green beans, mini zucchini, cucumbers, snap peas, baby carrots, mushrooms, specialty mixes), bagged fresh lettuce: romaine, spinach, mixed greens (add shredded bagged carrot, grape tomatoes, pre-sliced mushrooms)
Next time you meal plan buy the ingredients for a quick meal as a back-up. An example would be a flavored pre-cooked Adele’s chicken sausage, a box of couscous and a new frozen vegetable blend. These ingredients will keep for weeks/months. You’ll always have a quick meal on hand and will avoid the pitfalls of dining out.