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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)
  • Quesadillas
  • Omelets
  • 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.


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