Effective meal-planning must encompass the nights when things blow up and 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 have a meal back-up plan.
Below is a list of some of my favorite 15-minute meal ingredients. I’ve separated them into Proteins, Starches and Vegetables. A healthy meal can combine all these into a well-portioned “balanced plate”: ¼ protein, ¼ starch and ½ vegetables.
Quick Proteins (1/4 of plate):
Leftovers or Rotisserie Chicken, Precooked Chicken Sausage (Adele’s or Trader Joes), Precooked Turkey Kielbasa, Canned & Rinsed LS Beans, Eggs, Tofu, Frozen Edamame, Precooked Veggie or Salmon Patties, Canned Tuna or Salmon, Frozen Turkey Meatballs
Quick Starches (1/4 of plate):
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
Quick Vegetables (1/2 of plate):
Frozen: Broccoli, Asparagus, Pepper Strips, Brussel Sprouts, Frozen Specialty Blends with or without Sauce (Trader Joes has a lot of interesting blends), Bag of Broccoli Slaw (Add raisins/craisins, sunflower seeds and poppy seed dressing), Bag of prewashed & 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 Adell’s chicken sausage, a box of couscous and a new frozen vegetable blend. These ingredients will keep for weeks/months – and you’ll always have a quick meal on hand – and avoid the pitfalls of dining out.