I really love cooking. I like making dinner to be somewhat of a process. I appreciate it and appreciate the food more when I put effort into it. I can totes see why Julia Child blew up in her day. I love nothing more than cooking while a loved one sits in my kitchen and chats with me while I cook. Or even helps me cook. I especially love to make myself a nice dinner after a particularly hard training day. Grilled salmon with brown rice risotto, or red thai beef curry. Lately though, I am working late a lot that means getting some food down and moving on. I like to meal prep for occasions just like this. Perfect tupperware full of an exact measurement of rice, grilled steak and broccoli. I can buy in bulk and save money that way.
And then sometimes life happens. I’m out of town for the weekend and get back too late to meal prep, or just don’t feel like it, or for some other reason it just doesn’t happen.
If you can run by the store and buy three things, you can be set: green beans (buy the prewashed and cut ones) or broccoli, marble potatoes and chicken. I like to throw the chicken on the grill while the veggies cook. However, you can also put EVERYTHING in a pyrex pan, toss it with olive oil, salt & pepper, and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes. An hour may seem like a long time for it to cook, but it requires virtually no babysitting, and its filling and delicious. If you can just get it in the oven, you can change your clothes, read the mail, walk the dog – boom. Before you know it, you are laying down an impressive meal.
Another great go to is breakfast for dinner of any kind. Eggs cook fast and I just popped them in some tortillas with spinach – good to go. If you have cheese & sausage (I get chicken with as low of sodium as they have), all the better.
Oatmeal is a great one in my opinion. While I usually like to keep bulk of my carbs around breakfast, since I work out in the morning, sometimes a hearty bowl of oatmeal is just exactly what you need so you can crank out a couple more hours of work. I will add in half a serving of protein power and some nut butter for health fats and satiety.
Some things that I keep in pantry for an occasion when the grocery store is OUT OF THE QUESTION (due to time delays or my terrible attitude):
Olive oil – good for tossing veggies with and letting them roast up
A jar of minced garlic – I HATE mincing anything. You can find these in the produce section usually near the fresh garlic. I add it to veggies that I am roasting, canned marinara sauce for pasta, meat. There are few savory meals that garlic doesn’t improve.
Instant rice – would a nutritionist tell you that brown rice rinsed and slow cooked be better? Yes. Does instant rice do the job when you don’t even have an instant to be eating? Heck yes. Minute rice makes these perfect little cups of brown rice that take 60 seconds to heat up, so those are nice too.
Tuna – a great protein source that doesn’t really spoil. I always have a couple cans on hand. I will mix it with laughing cow cheese wedges and eat it on crackers, mix it in with the rice, or sometimes even pasta noodles. My mom used to put tuna in my (by “my” I mean hers that I would eat because children take everything from you) mac n cheese as a kid and it was SO GOOD!
Frozen veggie steamers in the fridge – they have ones that are just 2 servings, and I will eat both servings with some tuna and rice for a 30 second meal.
Beans – another good protein source that doesn’t go bad.
Pasta and a can of marinara sauce – bam.
Chicken meatballs in the freezer – add to the above mentioned pasta and sauce and you are a hero.
If all of these things are out of the question, sometimes takeout is the best you can do. I like Chipotle for that reason. They post their nutrition info, its a good balance of all the macronutrients, and it tastes good. Is the sodium content through the f**king roof? Yes. But you can’t win them all. I’m training for a marathon, I think my sodium count can take a hit now and then. Another great option is Whole Foods, which I lovingly refer to as Whole Paycheck. I love their hot bar or sushi. Or burrito bowls or sandwiches. I love everything there. Except mustard. That’s terrible.
I hope that helps all you busy people eat healthy and not be a hangry jerk to your family!!