Ideas to speed things up in the kitchen include:
- Main-dish soups make delicious meals and can serve up a variety of vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Soups can be made ahead and reheated quickly; they freeze well in batches or individual servings.
- Main-dish salads can be nutritious and light. Use any combination of vegetables, fruits, pasta, cheese, meat or nuts. Toss with your favorite dressing. For example, start with a bag of prepared lettuce; add apples, crumbled bleu cheese, cucumbers, walnuts, light raspberry vinaigrette dressing and a slice of whole-grain bread.
- Stir-fry endless options of vegetables and meats. Simply serve over rice or pasta for a complete meal.
- Take advantage of chicken for its versatility. Whether you're grilling, stewing or baking chicken, prepare extra and dice for chicken salads, chicken casseroles, etc. Use later in the week or freeze.
- Cook ground beef or turkey ahead of time. Cook it with basic seasonings, drain, rinse and freeze. After thawing, rinse off more fat with warm water. Add to many dishes, pasta sauce, casseroles, stews, etc.
- Marinate meat before freezing. Portion beef, chicken or pork in resealable bags. Add your favorite marinade, and refrigerate overnight before freezing. This will save time after thawing.
- Meal in a potato. Potatoes are the ultimate convenience food - and they're nutritious. Pierce with a fork before baking in the microwave. Top baked potatoes with chili, vegetables, cooked meats or low-fat dairy products. Top sweet potatoes with cinnamon and fruit.
- Brown rice is ready in an instant. This nutritious side dish cooks quickly and has a tasty nutty flavor.
- Pasta is full of possibilities. Choose from a variety of shapes and sizes. Top with quick herb, white or red sauce. Toss with grilled or stir-fried veggies. Use low-fat cheeses instead of meat.
Quick, light desserts
Desserts don't have to be baked concoctions. Here are other options: