Fast-Cooking Tip No. 6: Whip Up a Stove-Top Meal
Even on a hot evening, some of us are willing to spend five minutes over the stove if it means a freshly made meal. Armed with a nonstick frying pan, you can quickly whip up:
- Grilled sandwiches (you could also use a panini press)
- Fried rice (if the rice is already cooked)
- BLT sandwich (while the turkey bacon is cooking, toast the bread and slice the tomato)
- Fajitas take 5 minutes to make if you buy your meat already cut into small pieces and use bottled fajita sauce.
- Sloppy Joes
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 7: Make a Microwave Meals in Minutes
Three of my favorite microwave meals:
- Make mealtime nachos by layering multigrain tortilla chips, canned vegetarian refried beans or black beans, shredded reduced-fat cheese, chopped green onions and tomatoes, and grilled or roasted chicken breast (if desired) on a microwave-safe plate and cooking on HIGH for a minute or two.
- Make a burrito to order by filling a whole-grain flour tortilla with your fillings of choice, wrapping up into a burrito shape, and microwaving for a minute or two.
- A baked potato bar is easy to assemble. Pierce each potato a couple of times with a fork and microwave on HIGH until cooked throughout. Meanwhile, get your toppings ready (shredded reduced-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream, chopped chives or green onions, and/or turkey bacon bits.) Your favorite canned chili makes a good topping, too; just nuke it in a microwave-safe bowl.
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 8: Use Low-Fuss Veggies and Beans
These veggies are easy to use in recipes because they require minimal preparation:
- Bags of baby carrots
- Asparagus spears (just trim off the ends and they're ready to cook whole)
- Bags of washed spinach leaves
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes (just pierce each a couple of times and microwave)
- Cherry and grape tomatoes
- Canned tomatoes (for some recipes, you'll want the ones with seasonings added)
- Canned beans (just rinse them and add to recipes)
- Bags of precut broccoli and cauliflower florets
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 9: Serve a Low-Fuss Fruit Salad
With the following fruits, whipping up a side serving of fruit or a fruit salad is as easy as rinsing and tossing:
- Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
- Grapes (red and green)
- Apple slices in bags
- Bananas (just pull away part of the peel and then cut into slices in the peel).
- Canned pineapple chunks (in juice)
- Strawberries are easy to serve as a garnish. Just rinse, and serve them with their leafy tops.
Fast-Cooking Tip No. 10: Use Bottled Sauces, Dressings, and Marinades
These are some of the most convenient products available:
- Bottled light salad dressing (for green salads and pasta salads, or use as a marinade)
- Bottled marinara and pizza sauce
- Bottled salsa, taco sauce, salsa verde, and enchilada sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Fajita sauce
- Asian cooking and dipping sauces (hoisin, sweet and sour sauce, and more)
- Pesto sauce
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.