Healthy Meals in 4 Steps
Quick Mix and Match Method for Healthy Weeknight Meals
When time is tight, the last thing you want to worry about is, “what’s for dinner?” Use this quick 4-step method to help you pull together something healthy using ingredients you have on hand.
Check out this video from a webinar we hosted to help busy people like you get a quick and healthy meal on the table.
The first thing you’re going to do is pick your process, then pack it with plants, power it up with protein and perk it up with flavor.
STEP 1: Pick Your Process/Method
You can think about this on your way home from work, when you’re stuck in the car waiting to pick up kids or on Sunday night when you plan out your meals for the week.
Our favorite methods have a short amount of hands-on time, use minimal equipment and are easy to clean up (the last thing you want to do after a long day is to wash a lot of dishes, pots, and pans). Here’s a few to choose from:
Sheet Pan Meals (put all your ingredients on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven)
Using the Grill or Grill Pan on the stove
We’re always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen!! We often prep ingredients or batch cook a few items ahead of time to use in more than one meal.
Step 2: Pack it with plants
Once you’ve figured out the process, you can think about the ingredients and start by focusing on which plant foods you’ll use (you can learn all about why HERE). This could be focusing on veggies, or whole grains or beans and lentils. When you focus on the plant foods first, you’ll make sure you won’t forget them or make them an oversight.
Here’s a few ideas of what to keep on hand:
Fridge: broccoli, bell peppers, eggplant, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, green beans, lettuce/greens, pre-cut veggies
Freezer: frozen spinach, mixed veggie blends, peas
Pantry: whole grains, beans, onions, potatoes, squash
Counter: tomatoes, avocados, lemons/limes
Step 3: Power with Protein
Making sure there is protein in your meal will also help you feel full and satisfied. Here are a few ideas (and if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can definitely get your protein needs met with a little planning):
Plant-based (1st Choice for Protein):
Choose whole food forms first, like beans, lentils, whole grains, soy, tofu, seitan, tempeh.
If you’re getting the “fake meats,” read the labels and choose items with more whole foods and less processing and preservatives.
In general, choose items with lower amounts of saturated fats like:
fish and seafood (best choice)
smaller lean cuts of meat
Step 4: Perk it with Flavor (the fun stuff!)
You don’t have to make everything from scratch. We often turn to the pantry and fridge for flavor boosters. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Herbs/Spices: Italian blend, thyme, oregano, basil, turmeric, chili powder
Sauces: pesto, curry simmer sauce, teriyaki
Condiments: bbq sauce, different types of mustard, salsa, hot sauce