I’ve worked a long day, I walk in the door at 6 pm, and I have 3 sets of eyes looking at me, expectantly. I know the approaching question, “What’s for dinner?” Funny, I’ve been asking myself that same question!
Ten years ago, I would have picked up the phone and called in an order of something (anything!) for my family. Today, I do things differently. I know the tricks to putting together a healthy, fast, meal. It does take some planning and that was always the hard part for me. While I was good about planning my workouts, food was another story. But now I’ve learned the secrets to making dinners, fast.
I cook once, but eat twice, or more!
If I’m going to get my kitchen dirty, it better be worth it. That’s why I never cook one meal at a time. When I prep and cook meals I try to get at least two if not three meals out of it.
Dinner is three components: complex carbs, protein and veggies. Listed below, are the foods I always have in my refrigerator and pantry; with these foods in your pantry, you can make my 3 favorite go-to meals in 20 minutes or less!
Brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta and farro.
*Tip: I cook up at least 3-4 cups of brown rice at a time and store in my refrigerator for use during the week.
Bag of spinach or romaine lettuce.
Chopped veggies: usually broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower
*Tip: I wash and chop all of my veggies and store in glass containers. They should stay fresh for at least 5 days.
Rotisserie Chicken (usually Costco), black beans or bag of frozen shrimp (Shrimp will defrost fast)
My 3 go-to meals:
Ten Minute Tabouli
Easy Open Face Tacos
Stir-Fry in a Flash
Deborah’s Ten minute Tabouli (gluten free)
• 1 cup of cooked (and cooled) brown rice
• 1 cup minced fresh parsley
• 1/3 cup minced fresh mint
• ¾ cup of chopped green onions (I chop the white and part of the green)
• 2 cups of chopped cherry tomatoes (or regular tomatoes)
• 2 cups of cucumbers, seeded and diced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
• 1 teaspoons of sea salt
In a large mixing bowl, add your brown rice and all the chopped herbs and veggies. Combine the oil, lemon juice, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to brown rice/veggie mixture and mix well. You can certainly add more lemon juice or additional veggies.
Chill. Serve and enjoy.
*This salad can be made very quickly. The secret? I make a big container of brown rice and store it in my refrigerator. This makes for easy cooking for the rest of the week.
Bonus: This is even better the next day! Add it to a green salad to boost the fiber and nutritional content. Or add some diced rotisserie chicken for a perfect one dish meal.
Easy Open Face Tacos
• 1 cup of chopped rotisserie chicken
• 1 can of refried beans
• 1 can of black beans, rinsed to remove excess sodium
• ½ container of salsa
• Beef broth
• 1 lime
• Green salad
• Cheese, grated
• Baked Chips (Pop Chips: cheese or salt and pepper flavor work well here)
Add the can of refried beans and the strained black beans into a medium size sauce pan. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add one cup of beef broth and ½ small container of salsa and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add the juice of one lime to the mixture. Get a plate and cover it with baked chips. Put the taco mixture onto the chips, add some chopped chicken and then add green salad, salsa, and grated cheese.
Leftover Meal Options:
1. Breakfast/lunch burrito can be made with the leftover taco mixture and scrambled eggs placed in a warm tortilla.
2. Turn into a taco salad at work the next day. Bring the salad and chips separately, put together with the leftover taco meat/beans. Add salsa as your dressing and some sliced avocado. This is an excellent high protein and high energy afternoon meal.
Stir-Fry in a Flash!
Well, maybe not a flash, but you can make this in about 20 minutes if you chop up the veggies in advance.
I actually prep this meal on Sunday afternoon. I buy all my veggies for the week, clean and then chop them up for the next few days of recipes. After chopping, I put them in glass Snapware or Pyrex containers (available at Costco and most large stores). I marinate the chicken in soy sauce and ginger before I leave for work. Then when I get home it is perfectly seasoned and ready to cook. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken, or frozen shrimp or make this a vegetarian dish by using cubed tofu.
• Marinated chicken, cubed (1 inch), 1 large breast (or cubed tofu)
• 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cups of chopped veggies (I use what I have on hand, usually red bell pepper, cabbage, carrots and broccoli)
• 2 tsp. of chopped ginger
• ¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
• ¼ (or a bit more) of low sodium chicken broth
• 2 tsp. of corn starch
In a hot skillet or wok, heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and onions to your pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the veggies that will take the longest to cook (broccoli, carrots and cabbage) cook for 1 minute then add in the faster cooking veggies (bell pepper or bean sprouts). Add soy sauce, stirring constantly. Mix the corn starch with the chicken broth (make sure the broth is cold, or if using water, make sure it’s cold) add the corn starch mixture to wok, stir for about 1 minute. Serve over brown rice, serves 4.