Ellen Burgan joins us from If It Brings You Joy where she shares her passion to practice, and teach, a healthful lifestyle.
How to Make Easy, Healthy Meals Fast
By Ellen Burgan
Although sometimes it’s fun to take your time cooking in the kitchen, we all have times that we want our healthy meals fast.
[ctt template=”8″ link=”cwaS7″ via=”yes” ]Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to minimize meal prep time yet still provide a healthy meal. Here’s my top tips.[/ctt]
Freezer Tips from Someone Who isn’t a Fan of Freezer Food
I’m not always a fan of freezing leftovers, but there are a few cooked foods that freeze well and are particularly convenient to have on-hand for busy days so you can get that healthy meal fast.
First, it really takes no longer to brown five pounds of hamburger as it does one pound.
Make at least a triple batch and freeze it in meal size portions. You’ll thank yourself the next time you make tacos, chili, or sloppy joes and have most of the work and mess already done.
Even better, while you’re making tacos, chili, or sloppy joes, make a triple or quadruple batch. Again, it takes no longer to cook than a single batch, and it’s just as good or better the second time around. Freeze the extra in your family’s meal size portions. I also freeze some in single size portions which are so nice to take to work for lunch. I grab a container out of the freezer on my way to work in the morning, and it’s thawed by lunch break. So easy and delicious.
Finally, one of my favorite freezer tips is both a timesaver and a money saver.
I often find that I don’t use a whole stalk of celery before it goes bad. If you don’t think you’ll use the whole stalk, chop the celery and place in a plastic freezer bag. The celery can then be used for casseroles, soups, etc. This same tip works for onions. There’s no need to cook them first, just chop and freeze. With a little bang on the counter, you can remove only the amount of frozen celery or onion that you need.
Be conscious of what you have in your freezer, and use it within a month or two.
Also, be sure to label your container. I always think I’ll remember what’s in a container, but a few weeks down the road I have mystery food in my freezer. I use masking tape for labeling.
Easy, Adaptable, Yet Healthy Go-To Healthy Meals Fast
- My favorite go-to recipe is what I call Fajitas, but there’s actually no recipe needed.
Fajitas are delicious, healthy, and most prep work can even be done ahead of time. You don’t need a recipe because the joy of fajitas is you can make them with whatever ingredients you like and have on-hand. Sauté any or all of the following ingredients:
- Green/red/yellow bell peppers
- Green onions
- Tomatoes (or keep them fresh and use as a topping)
- Any other veggie you might want to use up!
Place the cooked mixture on a soft flour or corn tortilla, roll and eat. Alternatively, I like to place it on a flat tortilla, add shredded cheese, top with another tortilla, and cook with a small amount of cooking oil. This option is a cross between fajitas and quesadillas. Top with salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, lettuce, and/or tomatoes.
- Bulk up an ordinary sandwich to create an ultimate sandwich.
Yes, sandwiches do qualify as a meal. By adding a few extra ingredients, a simple sandwich becomes more healthy, filling and tasty. Again, there’s no exact recipe, just use what you have and like.
For example, for BLTs, you, of course, start with bacon, lettuce, and tomato. No bacon? No problem. Substitute sliced turkey for the bacon. Leave it cold or pan fry it to heat it up and bring out the flavors. Be sure to go heavy with the tomato and lettuce for extra low-calorie nutrition.
My favorite additional ingredients for any sandwich are avocado, banana peppers, fresh spinach, and any color bell pepper. Try topping your sandwich with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. A pickle on the side always gives a good crunch.
For a low carb or gluten free option, eat your sandwich as a lettuce roll-up rather than using bread. If you serve it with bread or bun, heat it in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes for a nice hot sandwich.
One other alternative is to use whipped avocado instead of mayo. Egg salad sandwiches taste excellent when the mayo is substituted with whipped avocado. This is a super low-cost meal, and eggs are extremely healthy.
Finally, plan your meals out for a week. Planning saves time and money. Write your plans down so you can reuse them every few weeks. (No sense reinventing the wheel!)
I hope these ideas spark some creativity you can add to your meals.
I have to say that I am a big fan of avocado in place of mayo and also I love guacamole. Plus that recipe link was a shameless plug for Young Master Chef Ho’s guacamole.
Here are a few other options that come together quickly:
Broccoli Rabe with Hot Italian Sausage
Grilled Trout with Cilantro Mint Chutney
Plus, turning to the crock pot or Instant Pot is always helpful but now I would love to hear more from you.
What are your go-to meals when you want healthy food fast?
I will be linking this post up to the parties that are listed on my Party With Me page. If you are a blogger you should go link up too. If you are not then you still should go there are check out all of the greatness. Also, check out my Tip Tuesday Link Party that runs every Tuesday through Friday and We Are Pinnable. I am the guest host for July.
42 thoughts on “How to Make Easy, Healthy Meals Fast”
The freezer is like a secret weapon for meal planning and prep. It lets you take care of all your cooking for 2 weeks in one afternoon if you want.
There’s another good trick with the celery too – If you use the whole top, you can place the bottom in water first then some soil, and basically replant it. You’ll get whole new celery stalks in a couple months (depending on your growing conditions)!
Fabulous reminder about that celery… I love that one.
Great tips over here 🙂
This is my first time on your site and I have gained such quick and healthy eating plans for me. Indeed we bloggers spent
hours in front of our computers and we need to stay fit and healthy. We need to keep focus on what we should eat and what not.
Freezing the food is better ideas, it can help to keep them hygienic and could taste delicious when cooked.
Thanks for the share.
Oh my goodness, we sure do. Having food easily accessible that is healthy and delicious is much help 🙂
That was the best choice right before cooking tonight. I was arriving from Donna’s amazing blog. you were one person peaked my interest. Freezing, yes most meats are good except my steak. I love it frozen until I cook it.
Now, I have a new and amazing unit to freeze. Yet, only one person here. No matter what I do with hamburger, it will start to get frost. That is the first sign too much air. I can’t get to it in one week. So, your tips are amazing and right. I take it that me only doing it for something I am going to desire to eat within one week. You made that point valid with writing on the freezer bags. It has saved me time in money and bathroom trips. LOL
Elise, you are a new connect with being a resourceful writer. I appreciate you as well.
I am so pleased that you got tips and reminders as to what will work for you.
I agree, the meals frozen in a single meal quantity are really convenient.
Love these tips. I feel like I’ve gotten lucky because for me cooking has always been extremely therapeutic. I have a busy schedule but as someone working full time and trying to build a business on the side that 30- an hour I’m making dinner is my break from work to just use my hands and create something for my body and soul.
I love how you describe that. It sounds wonderful.
Glad you enjoyed my tips. I hope to some day have your attitude about cooking!
These are some great ideas! I do a few already, but got some new tips as well. It’s funny you mention the celery, I actually have some growing in my garden just so I can grab only what I need at the time. I do have some frozen as well.
I love that you got new tips.
One can only ear so much celery! You’ll love the convenience of having it pre-chopped.
I need to start cooking more foods in bulk, and freezing them! I have the freezer space, but I often just forget about that simple trick. I usually just brown one pound of meat, but I think I am going to start to always double or triple recipes so that my freezer is packed with easy meals. I did meal prep for freezer meals one week, and it was amazing how much time it cut down in the kitchen! Now with a baby coming in a few weeks, I really need to get prepared!
Yes, that will help you tremendously. It will be one less thing to worry about and allow you to rest and recover at peace and with your new darling baby.
Oh yes, freezer meals will be great for after baby arrives. Congrats!
I loved every The tip to freeze unused onions!! What a fab idea because so much usually goes to waste!!
Thank you for your comments. You make wonderful points, most predominantly that the stress will come soon enough.
I would say that planning meals and sticking to them saves me so much time in the long run. 🙂 Great tips.
I am in complete agreement for myself.
Agreed. Planning makes the week go smoothly.
I could not agree more.
The freezer tips are great! There really are so many things you can store in the freezer, and I didn’t even realize it.
I am sometimes guilty of that too. It is always good to be reminded.
Glad you enjoyed the tips. The freezer is our friend!
Good tips, thanks you!
Thank you, Danielle! Happy cooking 🙂
The freezer was my best friends before and after my kids were born. I made up a bunch of soups, pasta dishes, cut up veggies and fruit to freeze. The possibilities with freezer food are endless and it makes healthy food prep so much easier. But always check on your food and write down dates.
Great tips. Thanks for offering them.
Really good point about dating freezer food, thank you!
I can’t believe I haven’t thought of batching hamburger meat and veggies. What a great idea!
Sometimes it is the most simple ideas that work the best.
It really is a huge time saver. One mess, but many meals. 🙂
This is a very interesting article. Thank you for sharing. I am an avocado lover, cant get enough. I will definitely try to plan my meal for the week. This is great advice.
It is wonderful that you have found it to be useful. Thank you.
Glad you enjoyed the article. Avocados – nutritious and delicious!
Thank you so great tips I like the idea of freezing the left over onions and celery for next time.
Hi Cheryl – my mother actually taught me that trick many years ago. It’s so nice to have everything chopped so I can just grab it out of the freezer. Huge time saver. Thanks for the comment!
These are great tips! I always make sure to keep healthy snacks on hand and NOT get junk at the store. That little practice alone really helps with my bad cravings and forces me to eat healthy 🙂
I am with you. Having my “emergency pack” on hand makes a huge difference.
Good tip about healthy snacks. If there’s no chips in the house, we can’t eat them! Thanks for sharing.