Checking In: How was grocery shopping?
Last week, I gave you lots of tips & tricks for buying the best food. If you missed it, take a look to get some great ideas. Now that you have it, let’s see what you can do with it!
Quick & Easy Meals
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time every day (or even most days!) to make a full meal from scratch. My secret to success? Planning out my week in advance so I know what and when I’m cooking. I figure out which nights I can easily cook dinner, and which nights are going to be really packed. Then I commit to preparing food ahead of time for the really busy days, so it’s easy for us to eat a healthy meal. The bonus to thinking ahead: I usually have yummy food for lunches too.
Planning to Prepare
Taking a little time to plan out your week’s food preparation makes everything easier and faster. The goal is to schedule what nights you will cook dinner and what days you can make batches of food to be used on other days. Here’s the game plan:
- Review your calendar and see what days you have a few hours available.
- Schedule your grocery shopping and cooking times in these slots. Use a pen, not a pencil!
- Pick out some quick recipes that you can make on busy weeknights and some easy recipes that you can make ahead on the weekends for the coming week. Good recipes to make ahead include food that freezes well such as soups, stews, marinated meat, tomato sauce, lasagna and the like. In addition to the recipes below, check out cookbooks like Cook Once, Eat for a Week.
- Write out a detailed grocery list and stick to it. Bonus tip: organize your list based on the layout of your favorite store and you’ll save even more time.
Let’s start with the days you have time to prepare your make-ahead meals. Taking a couple of hours to prepare ahead is like washing up as you go: that small investment in time pays off in a big, time-saving way. Strive to create 2 or 3 main dishes that you can supplement with easy sides. This is also a good time to do any prep you can for your quick weeknight meals.
On your busy days, plan to make easy dinners that come together quickly. Rely on recipes you’re comfortable with, and consider paying for convenience to make the meals even faster.
Recipes To Get You Started
These are part of my “go-to” arsenal of recipes. They’re all quick, easy, nutritious and delicious.
[download the printable pdf]
For a quick weeknight supper, try this salmon. While it’s cooking, sauté some spinach and microwave brown rice that you’ve prepared ahead of time.
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 wild salmon fillets, 4 ounces each once skin is removed
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 450º. Mix marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (glass or Pyrex). Add salmon, turn to coat and marinate for 10 minutes. Place salmon on large cookie sheet. Brush salmon with any remaining marinade.
Roast salmon until cooked through, about 5 – 8 minutes depending upon thickness of the fillets. Sprinkle salmon with toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4.
Makes a lot!
I like to make a couple of trays of roasted vegetables each week. They’re an easy way to up your vegetable intake, and you can use them in many ways: in salads, in a wrap, as a side dish, added to soups and so on.
Choose any of your favorite vegetables, such as:
olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400°.
Line cookie sheets with tin foil. If you’re roasting softer vegetables such as zucchini and harder vegetables such as parsnips, plan to have one tray for the soft and one for the hard to make it easier to manage cooking times.
Cut vegetables into 1/2” chunks. Scatter onto cookie sheets. Spray vegetables with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon dried thyme per cooking sheet.
Roast the vegetables until tender and browned, about 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Soft vegetables will cook quicker and can be removed before harder vegetables.
Best Ever Chili
I didn’t name this, one of my clients did! The recipe is adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites, previously noted as one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. It’s so quick and easy to make, you can make a double-batch to enjoy some that night and freeze the rest.
Feel free to add grilled chicken, cooked ground beef or turkey.
2 cups chopped onion (frozen works fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup prepared Mexican salsa (purchase from produce section)
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce container diced tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
¼ chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a soup pot, then cook the onions about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the cumin and coriander and stir for one minute.
Stir in the salsa and peppers, lower the heat and cook, partially covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the black beans and tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then stir in cilantro. Serves 4 – 6.
Gingered Carrot & Edamame Soup
Serves 4 – 6
This is the easiest soup in the world to make. As a trained chef, I’m almost embarrassed to show you this for fear of being laughed out of the culinary world. It’s really delicious, really healthy and pretty much involves just dumping ingredients in a pot and heating.
2 cups frozen chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 – 3 tablespoons grated ginger (find jars in produce section)
2 bags baby carrots
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1 10-ounce bag frozen edamame
Combine first five ingredients (onion through chicken stock) in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until carrots are very soft.
Using a hand-held stick blender or a regular blender, carefully puree soup until smooth. Return soup to pot, add edamame and simmer soup until edamame is tender, about 10 minutes.
Safe Food Storage
The Weeks Ahead
Two Reasons to Celebrate: National Grilling Month and National Blueberry Month
Antioxidants: Why we need them and how to eat them