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Healthy Eating: Fast Easy Meals and Menus


Healthy eating at home is a great way to stay fit and keep excess fat and sugar out of your diet. Use these time saving tips for your fast easy meals.

If your idea of a home-cooked meal is the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's, you're not alone! Research shows that:

  • Only 52 percent of us use our stoves on a daily basis, compared to nearly 70 percent in 1985.
  • People who do cook are more likely to opt for fast easy meals like a frozen dinner (sales of those have increased by 22 percent since 1996) or a one-pot dish than bother making an entire home-cooked meal.
  • Americans currently eat 54 billion meals on the go a year--that's nearly twice as many as in 1955, when the restaurant-industry share of the food dollar was 25 percent, compared to today's 46 percent.

But beyond the extra cash, there's a price to pay for all those meals on the go. Restaurant and commercially prepared food is often loaded with saturated fat, excess salt, sugar and MSG. And serving sizes are so truck-stop-huge you wind up eating for two. Become a restaurant regular and by next summer you could be ordering a supersize -- bikini!

If you want to eat healthy and lose weight, healthy cooking by preparing your own lowfat, low-cal fare at home makes the most sense. To minimize your time in the kitchen and supermarket, try delicious recipes and fast easy meals that revolve around three convenience-food categories found in your local grocery:

  1. fresh and fresh-prepackaged foods
  2. frozen foods and entrees
  3. canned and dry, quick-cook packaged foods

Keep reading for specific healthy cooking and healthy eating tips that will provide with you fast easy meals that taste great and treat your waistline well!

[header = Healthy eating: enjoy delicious 10 minute meals from fresh and frozen foods.]

10 Minute Meals (Max!) from Fresh and Frozen Foods

Healthy eating can be accomplished with delicious 10 minute meals cooked at home, a healthy alternative to restaurant meals on the go.

Who needs an oven? Nearly every supermarket in the United States offers aisles and aisles of fresh and fresh-prepackaged produce. Pair these items with ready-to-eat goods like tofu, yogurt, hummus and cooked meats, and you've got good healthy eating with little or no cooking time. For flourish in a flash, drop by the salad bar or deli and pick up some tasty, low-fat add-ons.

Here are three delicious recipes for fast easy meals created from fresh and fresh-prepackaged foods.

Quick 'n' Easy Chicken Wraps

Middle Eastern-Style Spinach Salad

Presto Pesto Pasta

10 Minute Meals (Max!) from Frozen Foods

If you want to create really fast easy meals at home, use frozen foods to tempt your family into healthy eating – without much effort from you.

Just as healthy as fresh produce, frozen fruits and veggies are always clean and ready to use, making food prep a snap for those 10 minute meals. They're a perfect way to add flavor, texture and nutrients to smoothies (use frozen fruits without added sugar). Here are two quick and easy healthy cooking recipes you can make in 5-7 minutes using frozen foods.

Asian Quickie Stir-Fry Dinner

Cherry-Vanilla Breakfast Smoothie

Our Favorite Healthy Cooking Frozen Entrees

Want to reduce restaurant meals on the go by adding frozen entrees to your 10 minute meals itinerary? Here are five that pack in nutrition and taste without excess fat.

  1. Lean Cuisine Cheese & Spinach Manicotti (Hearty Portions Meal): 350 calories, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat,50 g carbs, 19 g protein, 6 g fiber.
  2. Healthy Choice Grilled Turkey Breast: 260 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 33 g carbs, 21 g protein, 5 g fiber.
  3. Weight Watchers Smart Ones Swedish Meatballs: 280 calories, 7 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 34 g carbs, 19 g protein, 3 g fiber.
  4. Healthy Choice Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Bowl: 260 calories, 5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbs, 21 g protein, 5 g fiber.
  5. Lean Cuisine Chicken Parmesan: 300 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 41 g carbs, 21 g protein, 5 g fiber.

Keep reading for info on how to turn frozen entrees into complete fast easy meals!

[header = 10 minute meals: convenient shopping lists for three tasty fast easy meals.]

Turn frozen entrees into nutritious and delicious fast easy meals.

Use these shopping lists to turn frozen entrees into completely yummy meals.

10 Minute Meals # 1: Amy's Organic Vegetable Lasagna Frozen Dinner

Fresh/fresh-prepackaged aisle

- 1 head baby Romaine leaves (or chopped Romaine leaves)

- 1 pint strawberries

Salad bar/deli

- 1 broiled skinless chicken breast half

- 1 small whole-wheat roll

Canned goods/quick-cook dry-packaged aisle

- 16-ounce bottle fat-free Caesar dressing

- 1-pound box powdered sugar

10 Minute Meals # 2: Boston Market's Turkey Breast Medallions With Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fresh/fresh-prepackaged aisle

- 10-ounce bag broccoli florets

- 1 bunch fresh parsley, basil or cilantro

Frozen foods aisle

- 1 pint vanilla lowfat frozen yogurt

Canned goods/quick-cook dry-packaged aisle

- 8-ounce can sliced pineapple

- 8-ounce bottle ReaLemon (if you haven't purchased already)

10 Minute Meals # 3: Uncle Ben's Pasta Bowl Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo

Fresh/fresh-prepackaged aisle

- 1 tomato

- 1 small bunch red grapes

- 1 banana

- 1 Granny Smith apple

Canned goods/quick-cook dry-packaged aisle

- 1 whole-wheat roll

- 8.5-ounce bottle balsamic vinegar

- 8.5-ounce bottle extra-virgin olive oil (if you haven't purchased already)

Read on for info about turning canned, dry and packaged foods into healthy cooking and healthy eating opportunities!

[header = Fast easy meals: add canned and dry foods to your healthy cooking strategies.]

10 Minute Meals (Max!) from Canned & Dry/Packaged Foods

When cooking meals on the go, canned foods add ease and versatility to your healthy cooking repertoire.

Got a can opener? You have practically everything you need to create fast and healthy fare! Contrary to popular belief, canned vegetables easily can be as nutritious as (if not more than) their fresh counterparts. Plus canned foods are processed immediately after harvest, so very few nutrients are lost. On the other hand, fresh produce that sits on the supermarket shelves for a while can lose a significant amount of nutrients.

If you're watching your sodium intake, rinse all canned products (beans, vegetables) before using -- you can easily wash away excess salt for healthy eating. Even better, start with reduced-sodium canned foods.

Add this strategy to your healthy cooking mix: use dry, packaged goods, exotic spices and flavored oils to create healthy, fast easy meals.

Dry, packaged goods like prepackaged grains, pastas, breads and pitas make meal preparation quick and easy, while exotic spices and flavored oils turn ordinary dishes into tasty ethnic cuisine.

While many canned and dry, packaged goods are healthy eating in themselves, you can also use them to add flavor, nutrients and texture to everything from omelets and sandwiches to soups and stews. Here are two hearty, filling and low-fat 10 minute meals, from can to plate.

Super Speedy Pasta and Bean Soup

Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Parfait


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