Q: Are there any secrets for making quick, “clean” meals at home so I’m not tempted to go to a drive-through and pick up unhealthy fast food?
—Maryanne C., Tampa, Fla.
Absolutely. With a little planning and preparation, it’s possible to bring healthy meals together in under 10 minutes. You have to start by selecting smart products at the natural foods store and setting aside slightly more time one day a week to prepare some meat, such as broiling burgers, meat kabobs, or lamb chops or steaks, which can be easily reheated at another meal.
For variety in your choices of protein, it’s a good idea to have frozen shrimp in your freezer, along with eggs and packaged or canned tuna in your refrigerator. I also recommend buying an organic rotisserie chicken once a week. You can eat a thigh and/or drumstick hot when you bring the chicken home from the store, then refrigerate it and cut the meat up a day or two later to use in salads, stir fries, and soups.
In your refrigerator, be sure to have salad greens and/or spinach and other vegetables that you like in a handy, easy-to-use form. For making quick, low-fuss meals, you’ll also need a wok or large frying pan, a broiling pan, pans or containers for reheating, and a pan with a removable steamer basket.
Once you have these basics, there are countless ways to quickly and creatively combine meat and vegetables. The following are 12 fast-food lunch or dinner meal ideas to get you started. A few of them include mentions of tasty products that offer time-saving luxury.
1. Organic Rotisserie Chicken Thigh and/or Drumstick and Steamed Broccoli with Butter
Steam broccoli spears for about 10 minutes, top with butter, and serve with just-bought chicken.
2. Easy Veggie Fried Rice
Use Cece’s Veggie Co. Organic Veggie Medley of riced cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, and green onion to help you make this dish with sesame oil, gluten-free soy sauce, eggs, and cooked protein, such as chicken, tofu, or shrimp. (See recipe, right.) Cece’s offers organic riced, spiraled, noodled, and z-cut griller vegetables, which makes vegetables fun and ultra-easy to use for quick meal preparation.
Make it! Try our Easy Veggie Fried Rice recipe.
3. Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Combine an undrained can of Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna with coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, chickpeas, chopped red bell pepper, chopped pitted Kalamata olives, chopped red onion, shredded carrots, basil or oregano, and capers. Mix in a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and serve.
4. Fried Organic Ham and Eggs on Roasted Asparagus Spears with Fruit
Depending on the thickness of the asparagus, roasting the spears may take longer than 10 minutes. Toward the last 5 minutes or so of roasting, fry the eggs and ham to desired doneness. Serve with a bowl of berries.
5. Grass-Fed Hamburger with No-Fuss Coleslaw
Reheat a burger you made ahead of time on the stove or in the microwave. While the burger is heating, put organic coleslaw mix in a bowl and toss with Primal Kitchen Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing.
6. Sautéed Steak, Mushrooms, Garlic, and Spinach
In a wok or large frying pan, cook sliced mushrooms in olive oil, butter, or coconut oil. When the mushrooms are close to being done, stir in precooked steak pieces and minced garlic, then mix in spinach until it wilts. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Organic Soup made with Bone Broth
Bonafide Provisions offers six types of organic soup made with nutritious, protein-packed bone broth: Broccoli Cheddar, Creamy Mushroom, Chicken Vegetable, Butternut Squash, Roasted Tomato-Basil, and French Onion. Remember to thaw the frozen soup container in the refrigerator a day or two before you want to serve it, then just heat it up on the stove. If you want something light, enjoy this soup on its own. For a heartier meal, serve soup as a side dish with a burger or egg dish, or beef up the soup with cut-up pieces of leftover meat and cooked veggies.
8. Lamb with Buttered Green Beans
Boil fresh green bean pieces about 5–6 minutes until done, or cook frozen green beans according to directions. Drain water, then add butter and salt. While the green beans are cooking, reheat cut-up pieces of cooked lamb burger or broiled lamb chop meat in a small amount of chicken broth and olive oil in a pan on the stove. Combine the lamb, broth, and green beans, and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.
9. Turkey Cheeseburger with Celery Sticks and Apple Slices with Almond Butter
Reheat a precooked turkey burger with cheese. Cut the celery into sticks and the apple into slices, and serve with unsweetened almond butter.
10. Spinach & Cheese Scrambled Eggs with Grain-Free English Muffin
Sauté spinach with salt, pepper, and onion powder until wilted and tender, about 5–7 minutes. Add eggs with a little cream or coconut milk if desired, scramble, then top with organic cheese of your choice (e.g., grated or shredded cheddar, Colby, pepper Jack, provolone, or mozzarella) and mix. Serve with toasted, buttered Mikey’s Grain-Free English Muffin.
11. Garlic Shrimp Alfredo with Zucchini Noodles
Here’s another idea from Cece’s Veggie Co.: Cook shrimp in a large skillet over medium-high heat about 2–3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. Sauté zucchini noodles until al dente, 2–4 minutes. Add half a jar of Primal Kitchen No-Dairy Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce, mix in the cooked shrimp, and top with chopped Italian parsley.
12. Quick Asian Chicken Salad
Combine romaine lettuce, shredded cabbage coleslaw mix or shredded carrots, sesame seeds or roasted cashews, Primal Kitchen Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing or Bragg’s Ginger & Sesame Dressing, and chopped meat either from a rotisserie chicken or from True Story Organic Thick Cut Oven Roasted Chicken Breast. The latter, a handy organic meat product that you can find in the deli section of many natural food stores, has no nitrates, nitrites, artificial preservatives, carrageenan, antibiotics, gluten, or MSG—just five clean ingredients.