Eating nutritious and balanced meals doesn’t mean you have to slave for hours in the kitchen. With a little strategy and planning, you can be sure that you’re supporting all of your efforts in the gym. These quick, easy to prepare meals will have you feeling energized.
Take a look at the meal ideas listed below, make a grocery list and a plan. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start small. Focus on eating better breakfasts and snacks. Once you’ve got that down, start exploring with healthier dinner and lunch ideas.
Arnolds Sandwich Thin or Bagel Thin with 1 T. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, 1 T. jam, 12 oz. skim milk
349 cal, 51 carb, 10 fat, 22 protein
Thomas Bagel Thin, High Fiber English Muffin or Arnold’s Sandwich Thin with 1 piece 2% Kraft Cheese (try pepper jack, cheddar or Swiss), 2 oz. Canadian bacon or deli ham microwave for 45 seconds, add an apple-SUPERFAST!
296 calories, 42 carb, 8 fat, 20 protein
1 C. egg whites (abt 4 egg whites) microwave in 30 sec intervals (put this in a big mug sprayed w/cooking spray) add Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Link and a piece of Kraft 2% cheese and put it on a toasted Thomas Multi-grain English muffin with 1/3 daily fiber.
285 cal, 28 carb, 6 fat, 33 protein (See frozen version below, great for when you need something on the go!)
Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage, Egg White, and Cheese Muffin
260 cal, 28 carb, 8 fat, 18 protein
(Not ideal, because it’s pre-packaged. Improve the stats by adding a cup of berries and/or cup of skim milk
1 C. plain non-fat Greek yogurt with 1 packet of truvia and dash of cinnamon, ½ C. banana (or use berries for more fiber and less calories), ¼ C. Kashi Go Lean, 100 cal pack of almonds and/or walnuts. This is a perfect meal or snack to leave you feeling FULL!
378 cal, 47 carb, 10 fat, 25 protein
Green Monster Smoothie
2 C. baby spinach
½ small ripe frozen banana
1T. natural peanut butter
½ C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Silk or Almond Breeze)
1 C. Non-fat Plain Greek Yogurt
1 packet of stevia, truvia or 1 t. agave nectar (agave not included in calorie count)
Calories: 282; Carb: 29g; Fat: 10g; Protein: 26g
Blend in a blender until smooth. Be brave! The green can be a little intimidating, but you can’t taste the spinach. Mom’s: give your kids a blind taste test and see what they think. You could add the whole banana instead of half then add about 50 calories; 15g. of carbs and 1g. protein.
Options: Make it a “Purple Monster Smoothie”. Instead of banana and peanut butter, try a cup of FROZEN raspberries or blackberries for a filling breakfast or snack! (This changes the nutrition stats, it lowers the sugars/carbs and increases the fiber.) You can also sub out the Greek Yogurt for Whey Protein Powder.
Do you LOVE good old fashioned cold cereal? Try this trick from Hungry-Girl.com:
Add a Cup of Arrowhead Puffed Rice Cereal (50 calories-Hy-Vee Health Market under $3) with 1 C. unsweetened Silk Almond milk 35 calories and it tastes way better than soy milk! (This equals 85 calories and adds bulk to cold cereal, then you can add a little of the sweeter stuff. Remember to add 3-4 egg whites to get your protein in as well.)
Nutrition information is from www.myfitnesspal.com
QUICK LUNCH IDEAS
“Ultimate time saver”….All it takes is a little planning ahead and buying a little extra of whatever lean meat you’re making for dinner.…
Make lunches for the next two days at dinner time while the kitchen is already messy. Plan most of your dinners to be LEAN PROTEIN + DOUBLE SERVING OF VEGETABLES + ONE STARCH. Plan ahead and prepare two extra servings of protein-think: lean ground turkey or beef, chicken breast, or fish. (You can season it differently for variety.)Then, when it’s time to clean up after dinner, throw together your lean meat PLUS:
Bed of Salad Greens. Flat Out Wrap, Whole Wheat Pita or Low Carb Tortilla
Top with 2% cheese slice, onion, cilantro, bell peppers, lettuce, Ken’s Steakhouse Light Honey Mustard Dressing or any low fat condiment. (If you’re making a salad, put the dressing on the side so your veggies don’t get soggy.)
Add baby carrots and a 100 calorie chocolate chip granola bar.
“Lean Deli Meat”
Look for lower sodium brands like Columbus (Trader Joe’s and Costco) or DiLusso’s Reduced Sodium Deli Meat. Add 2% Pepper jack or Swiss on a Thomas Bagel Thin (zap in the microwave for 30 seconds)-or layer the deli meat and cheese on a big piece of romaine for a lettuce wrap. Have this with a cup of chopped cucumbers dipped in Kraft Light Ranch or Light Italian dressing and a 100 calorie Light Yogurt like Weight Watcher’s cherry cheesecake or key lime pie flavor.
Flavored refried beans like Hy-Vee brands low fat green chili flavor, on corn tortilla with 2% shredded cheese, onion and cilantro (zap in microwave 30 sec. when ready to eat), 2 T. plain nonfat Greek Yogurt mixed w/2 T. salsa for dipping, and side salad with light ranch dressing
“Meal on the Fly”
This may not sound like a meal, but it has enough calories to keep you feeling full and it’s perfect when your starved for time: I always keep 4oz. of low fat cottage cheese in small containers, add a Chobani or AE Greek Yogurt and 100 calorie pack of cinnamon roast or cocoa roast almonds and you’ve got a balanced meal. About 360 calories
“Flavored Tuna Pack”
Try the Star-Kist Flavored Tuna Packs even if you THINK you don’t like tuna. They’re delicious! Add them to a wrap or a salad brought from home or to a salad from the cafeteria. Add a cup of your favorite berries. I love bringing a cup of berries and having them with a 100 calorie yogurt. YUM!
QUICK DINNER IDEAS
“Grilled Cheese and Soup”~inspired by www.hungry-girl.com
Broth based reduced sodium soup (150 calories or less) PLUS:
Grilled Cheese made with 2% Kraft Cheese Single + Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese (try a flavored one!) made on 45 calorie bread with a thin layer of Brummel and Brown. Spray your skillet with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Add a salad from a bag with Panera Asian Sesame Dressing.
Take boneless skinless chicken breast straight from the freezer and place in the crock pot. Cover with water and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove from crock pot and shred with two forks. Now that you’re protein is cooked, let the fun begin! Ideas:
- Make Chicken Pizza- Build a pizza using a thin pre-made pizza crust, high fiber English muffins, 80 calorie sandwich buns or Brownberry Italian Seasoned Pita Thins (Costco, Dahl’s and Hy-Vee). Add pizza sauce (or spaghetti sauce), Hormel Turkey Pepperoni, chopped bell peppers, mushrooms, 2% cheese and onions. Bake at 350 for about 7-10 minutes.
- Make Quesadillas-Season chicken with garlic powder, sea salt and pepper then layer it between two 50 calorie low carb tortillas like La Tortilla Factory Brand, add 2% cheese and toast in a skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Serve with salsa and veggie sticks.
- Make Salad-Season chicken to your liking and make a big salad. Make your side a bowl of blueberries topped with half a carton Weight Watcher’s Lemon Cream Pie Low Calorie Yogurt.
- Make Enchilada Pie-Season the chicken with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper (Or simply use low sodium taco seasoning if you prefer). In an 8 inch baking pan, place a small amount of enchilada sauce, then a small corn tortilla-use a knife to spread the tortilla with a tablespoon of seasoned refried beans-then add about a half a cup of seasoned chicken and sprinkle lightly with 2% cheese and chopped onion. Continue the layers until you reach the top of the pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cut yourself a slice and serve with Light Sour Cream and a side salad with Kraft Light Ranch Dressing.
- Make Chicken Nachos using Tostitos Baked Scoops (or toss chopped up corn tortillas sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkled with sea salt into a 400 degree oven for 3-6 minutes), add seasoned, low fat refried beans, onions, tomatoes and a sprinkle of 2% shredded cheese. Microwave for 10-15 seconds and serve with salsa and light sour cream.
“Eggs for Dinner”
Take whatever veggies you have in the fridge, chop them up and let them cook in a skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray for about 3 minutes; add egg whites and Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage links. Top with a sprinkle of 2% shredded cheese and serve with a Bagel Thin.
Take lean protein (think boneless skinless turkey or chicken breast, mahi mahi, tilapia, or shrimp) and marinate in Light Italian Dressing. Always grill extra meat for tomorrow’s lunch! Make a veggie pack with asparagus, cabbage, green beans or your favorite combination of veggies drizzled with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper. Grilled pineapple or grilled pears drizzled with nonfat light yogurt makes an awesome dessert with this.
Ever have a night where your dinner is running so late that you’d almost rather just go to bed? Your muscles need to be fed, don’t skip dinner! Try this recipe from www.hungry-girl.com:
½ to ¾ C. low fat cottage cheese + dash of vanilla extract + dash of cinnamon + truvia packet + 5-6 crushed walnuts + diced apple (if you have an orange or orange zest handy, add some orange zest to brighten the flavor. It’s delicious!)
Remember, nutrition is 80% of the battle when it comes to weight control. More importantly, when you eat nutritious meals and snacks and keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, your less likely to run into mood swings and energy dips. Be purposeful and take ownership of what you’re eating and you will reap the rewards!