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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWritten by Elaine Murphy, nutritionist and GreenLite Health Educator

In order to make assembly style meals work during the week, shopping and planning have to be a priority and done at least once a week, no exceptions. If your ingredients aren’t there nothing about mealtime will be quick and easy. Schedule your weekly shopping just like other appointments. 

Shortcuts to quick meals:
• For the quickest simple assembly style meals, purchase pre-cooked chicken tenders, strips and pre-cooked/prepared protein sources (check your Greenlite protein list). Most of them freeze well. A rotisserie chicken or a fresh turkey breast from the deli works too. Or you can pre-cook lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin on the weekends and freeze if needed. (Tofu and pre-cooked shrimp are also acceptable.)
• Frozen and/or pre-washed fresh veggies, chopped cabbage and salad green mixes are available everywhere to help you avoid washing and cutting if you don’t have the time.
• Learn to prepare double meals, especially on the weekends. Use as leftovers for lunch or dinner.

Meals in Minutes

“Salad” Meals

Ingredients: Greens and veggies of choice, low-fat, low-carb salad dressings like the “spray” versions that are available (lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, even salsa with vinegar work well too with tiny amounts of olive oil if desired) and your choice of lean protein like chicken/turkey breast, salmon, canned tuna/salmon/chicken, tofu, and beans (limit as permitted on your plan). “Tuna Creations” are great for lunches but watch carbs depending on the flavor you pick.

Try different versions:
Try a Spinach Salad with a small amount of almonds or walnuts. Top with protein and other veggies of choice (tomatoes, mushrooms, onion). The spinach can be wilted (microwave a few seconds) and the protein can be warmed during the cooler seasons. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil are a nice dressing for almost any salad. Try a Baby Gourmet Greens Salad. Top with protein/veggies of choice and onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and veggies; use your choice of allowed dressing ( also see handout of dressings); or pick a “spray” dressing of your choice. Try a cabbage salad, top with protein, veggies of choice (snow peas and water chestnuts are great with this). Add caraway, chopped onions, olive oil (one teaspoon) and vinegar and soy suace to taste. (Add Shirataki noodles and chopped almonds too if you like.) Try a Mexican salad, top with protein choice, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and Mexican herb blend (cumin, chili powder, red pepper) with salsa and vinegar as a dressing. Or try an Italian salad with protein choice with sun-dried tomatoes (1 tablespoon, drain oil) tomatoes, onion and Italian herbs spice blend; fresh or dried extra basil is great too if desired.

Easy Omelet Meals are Minute Meals! (If you buy egg beaters and pre-cut veggies)
Use egg whites only, (Egg Beaters are fine and even easier) or half egg whites and half the amount of yolks to cut calories, cholesterol and fat. Make an omelet like you would normally do but use Trader Joe’s olive oil cooking spray. Try going gourmet. Add veggies such as fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and fresh spinach; season with salt and pepper. To give this a special rich taste add in 1 teaspoon low-fat, non-fat cream cheese or Fage yogurt per serving. Check our recipe box for more enticing egg recipes.
You can add other chopped cooked veggies too like green beans, zucchini, and a dash of thyme, and red onion. (Fresh herbs are always a great addition to any dish, especially egg dishes).

Stir-fry Made Simple

  • Pre-cooked and/or frozen chicken strips, port tenderloin or shrimp
  • Frozen of pre-cut Asian veggies (no sauce)
  • A serving of “free” Shirataki noodles available at Safeway, Whole foods and Asian markets (see handout about these noodles for more information.)

Optional but nice:

  • Freshly grated ginger and roasted sesame seeds

Directions: Take out frozen chicken the night before preparing. Combine chicken and veggies and stir-fry with olive oil spray. Top with ginger and pinch of sesame seeds if desired.

Don’t forget the Rotisserie Chicken
Although this might have some fat, (just blot any excess oil off chicken before consuming.) This is probably the easiest dinner ever! Pick a chicken up for dinner, have it for dinner with some veggies or a nice salad and then use the leftovers in any of the ideas above.

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