Do you find yourself eating the same old meals over and over because you can't figure out what else to make - quickly? Or ordering takeout more often that you (or your wallet) would like? Shopping for the right foods can get you out of this rut. Check out this list of pantry staples, then try the 13 quick meal ideas that follow. The most you'll have to do is boil water!
Smart Shopping List
* Whole-grain breads and whole-wheat pita; whole grains (including whole-wheat couscous), whole-wheat tortillas; prepared pizza crust (e.g., Boboli)
* Canned beans and chickpeas
* Canned tomatoes; jarred tomato sauce
* Vegetables (fresh, canned, jarred): red and green lettuce, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, watercress, red onion, garlic, shredded coleslaw mix, jarred beets, roasted red peppers, pickled jalapenos and canned water chestnuts
* Fruit (fresh or frozen/canned in its own juice), including lemons and limes
* Pre-cooked chicken, turkey breast, roast beef and pork tenderloin
* Canned salmon and tuna
* Reduced-fat or fat-free cheese, including Parmesan, Swiss and blue cheese, and fat-free sour cream
* Dried fruit
* Nuts, including almonds and walnuts
* Fresh herbs, including cilantro
* Dried herbs/spices: oregano, thyme, curry, chili powder, cumin
* Fat-free mayonnaise
* Mango chutney
* Prepared salsa
* Gourmet mustard
* Barbecue sauce
* Hoisin sauce
* Tahini (sesame-seed paste)
* Light coconut milk
* Baked corn chips (e.g., Baked Tostitos).
13 Quick Dishes
Now that you have your pantry stocked, here are just a few of the delicious dishes you can toss together - no recipe required!
Chicken Salad: Combine pre-cooked chicken breast, diced roasted red peppers, fat-free mayonnaise and gourmet mustard; spoon mixture into whole-wheat pita.
Hummus: Puree together chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice; serve with baked corn chips or whole-wheat pita wedges.
Tomato Pie: Top prepared pizza crust with garden-style pasta sauce, reduced-fat Parmesan cheese and oregano.
Royal Rueben: Make coleslaw (combine shredded cabbage/carrot mix and fat-free mayo); place slaw on whole-grain bread; top with lean roast beef and reduced-fat Swiss cheese.
Spicy Salmon: Combine canned salmon, diced pickled jalapeños, gourmet mustard and fat-free mayo.
Asian Chicken: Coat cubed, pre-cooked chicken breast with hoisin sauce; toss with water chestnuts and chopped celery.
Chicken Fajitas: Top whole-wheat tortillas with slices of pre-cooked chicken breast, green bell peppers and red onion; serve with fat-free sour cream and salsa.
Moroccan Couscous: Add boiling water to whole-wheat couscous; let stand 5 minutes. Add chopped mixed dried fruit, ground cumin and sliced almonds.
Turkey Wrap: Spread gourmet mustard on a whole-wheat tortilla; top with smoked turkey breast, reduced-fat cheese, shredded lettuce and sliced tomato; roll up.
Mexican Beans: Combine three-bean varieties (black, white, pink), canned tomatoes, diced yellow bell pepper, chopped fresh cilantro and chili powder.
Chicken-Chutney Sandwich: Spread chutney on whole-grain bread; top with slices of pre-cooked chicken breast and red lettuce.
Thai Fruit: Combine fresh and/or canned fruit (such as pineapple, mango, melon, grapes, papaya), sliced almonds and light coconut milk.
Barbecued Pulled Pork: Combine shredded, cooked pork and barbecue sauce; serve on whole-grain bread.