3 Kitchen Staples: 9 Healthy Meals
Batch cooking and meal prep are great ways to save time and money. Ever find yourself picking up dinner on your way home because nothing is thawed or ready to go? Me too. Wouldn’t it be great to come home from work and have dinner 75% ready? Choose one day each week to dedicate to meal prep – peel, dice, grill, bake, cool and portion your way to stress free meals. Benefits of planning and prepping ahead can include: cost effectiveness, portion control, time savings and healthier choices.
I love to meal prep for many reasons but have found it allows me to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family. Chicken, brown rice and vegetables are staples in my kitchen. Get creative with spices, seasonings and marinades to change up the flavor. Try these 3 simple steps to get your meal prep started!
Step 1: Gather your ingredients.
• Chicken – boneless, skinless breasts
• Brown rice – any variety
• Vegetables to roast – potatoes, peppers, onions, green beans, squash etc.
Step 2: Batch cook.
• Chicken: Place 4-8 chicken breasts in a slow cooker with a drizzle of canola oil, salt and pepper. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
• Brown rice: Cook according to package directions.
• Roasted vegetables: Dice vegetables and drizzle with canola oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 -25 minutes, stir half-way through.
Step 3: Make your meals.
• Chicken soup: Add 2 cups of shredded chicken to your favorite vegetable soup.
• Omelet: Stir ½ cup chicken, broccoli and cheese into 2 scrambled eggs.
• Tacos: Reheat shredded chicken on the stove with taco seasoning. Freeze extras to enjoy at a later time.
Staple: Brown rice
• Burrito bowl: Start with ½ cup rice. Add black beans, roasted corn, lettuce, cheese and avocado for a veggie bowl. Increase protein with lean ground beef, chicken, or tofu. Top with Lime juice or salsa.
• Breakfast porridge: Add ½ cup of milk, 1 Tbsp. blueberries and dash of cinnamon to ½ cup of cooked rice. Combine on the stove over low heat for 5 minutes, until rice is warm.
• Quick family dinner: Pair ½ cup rice with a protein, like salmon or pork, add a veggie and dinner is ready.
Staple: Roasted vegetables
• Breakfast hash: Top veggies with two eggs and ¼ avocado.
• Veggie bowl: Add ½ cup of black beans or chickpeas, top with salsa or hummus.
• Think-free meal: Serve veggies with your shredded chicken and a lemon wedge.
These are meals enjoyed by my family on a weekly basis. Try to take a few hours during the week to prepare food in advance. This will keep you on the path of healthy eating, while saving time and money. Discover your own kitchen staples and start prepping!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.