Meal Prep Time Savers

Busy schedules, low energy levels, and not knowing what to do for dinner all lead to ordering off the takeout menu or eating less than healthy options during the workweek. Check out the tips below to help make healthy cooking a breeze.

Prep Work Shortcuts:

  • Buy precut, prepackaged veggies or buy the toppings from the grocery salad bar and throw into stir fries, omelets, quesadillas,  or use for kabobs
  • Use frozen veggies – try them roasted or sautéed straight from the freeze or steam them according to package directions
  • Use beans or tofu as a no-cook protein source for your meal
  • Buy pre-portioned chicken breasts, pre-formed ground beef or turkey patties, precooked shrimp, etc. to cut down your meat prep

Embrace Kitchen Tools and Gadgets:

  • Use your Crockpot to do the cooking while you’re at work:
    • Cook chicken or turkey breasts and shred them to add to salads, quesadillas, pizzas, burritos and wraps, or sandwiches and burgers
    • Cook ground beef, chicken, or turkey to use in tacos, sloppy Joes, burritos bowls, or add to lasagna
  • Use a food processor or mandolin to chop and slice your veggies, herbs, and fruits in no time
  • Use tools such as cherry pitters, apple slicers, egg slicers (also great for mushrooms), garlic presses, and other time savers to cut down on tedious chopping and dicing

Use convenience foods when you can:

  • Buy a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking your own to add to your favorite recipe.  Just be sure to remove the skin
  • Layer frozen raviolis (with spinach!) with pasta sauce, lean ground beef or turkey, and low fat mozzarella to make a super quick lasagna
  • Buy precooked whole wheat pizza crust to make homemade pizzas
  • Use frozen, microwavable rice as a side or to add to casseroles, stir fries, burritos, or soups Try these combinations to get your creative juices flowing!
  • Add shredded chicken and black beans to rice and prepared salsa for a Southwestern quick meal (omit chicken for a vegetarian meal).  Bump up the fiber with frozen corn and bell peppers!
  • Toss precooked shrimp with lime juice, cilantro, and prepared mango salsa.  Wrap in a whole wheat tortilla and top with pre-sliced red cabbage for easy shrimp tacos.
  • Cook ground turkey meatballs in your Crockpot and serve on a whole wheat roll with chopped spinach, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and Greek yogurt for a Mediterranean take on a meatball sub.
Meghan Rath

Meghan Rath

M.S., CSCS, HFS is a HealthEase Fitness Manager with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from West Chester University. She is also ACSM and NSCA certified.

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Get creative with pumpkin consumption

My favorite part of the fall season? It’s making pumpkin a big part of my diet. Pumpkins are low in calories and loaded with nutrients like Vitamins A, B6, C and E as well as potassium and folate. This delicious fruit (pumpkin is not a vegetable!) is primarily thought of as a favorite pie ingredient and aspiring Jack ‘o Lantern. But it can be incorporated into your meals without adding sugar, as is the case in many pumpkin recipes. Here are a few health-conscious suggestions you can try:

 

Pumpkin-Inspired Meal Ideas:

    • Add canned pumpkin into a pot of hot oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon.
    • Add canned pumpkin into your pancake mix.
    • Make a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie in a blender using:
      • ½ cup pumpkin puree
      • ½ banana
      • 6 oz.  nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
      • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
      • ½ Tbsp. honey
      • 1 cup crushed ice
    • Make Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese:
      • Box of whole wheat penne pasta
      • 2 tsp. olive oil
      • 1 medium onion, chopped
      • 3 cups spinach
      • 1 can of pumpkin puree
      • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
      • ½ cup water
      • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
        • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
        • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to directions on package minus 2 minutes, and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water when done.
        • Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet. Sauté onions and spinach until softened.
        • Stir in canned pumpkin and ricotta cheese. Empty drained pasta plus 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water into skillet and mix well.
        • Spoon pasta into 11 x 7 baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Amanda Jackson

Amanda Jackson

Amanda has been with HealthEase since January of 2012. She is the Assistant Manager at the De Lage Landen Fitness Center in southeast Pennsylvania. Her favorite part of the job is motivating people to reach their health & fitness goals. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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