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Clean Out the Fridge

Leftovers can be great even if you didn't plan ahead for them. I like to use up all the leftovers in the fridge -- veggies, meat, cheese, even fruit -- in a big salad, omelet, or pasta dish. You can buy wonderful dry sauce mixes (I love Knorr Swiss brands) and blend them with skim milk to make creamy, low-fat sauces to toss with pasta. Add a side salad from a bag of pre-washed greens, a whole-wheat roll from the freezer, and in 15 minutes, voila, a wonderful meal!

For those nights when you're short on creativity and/or supplies, it's great to have your favorite frozen entrees on hand. Check the nutrition facts panel to make sure you are buying meals that are nutritious (Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice are a couple of good choices).

To make sure they fit into your eating plan, look for meals that are roughly 300 calories (for a "light frozen dinner") or 400 calories (for a "regular frozen dinner"). Also, keep in mind that frozen dinners tend to be high in sodium.

What to Keep on Hand

Another key to quick, nutritious meals is to keep a variety of foods in your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Whether you're whipping up a pasta dish, salad, pizza, soup, sandwich, stew, or omelet, a well-stocked kitchen makes preparation fast and easy. In addition to lean meat, poultry, and fish, stock these tried-and-true ingredients:

Freezer

  • Whole-wheat rolls
  • Bags of frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Pre-cooked chicken strips
  • Pizza shells
  • Lean meats, poultry, and seafood
  • Frozen entrees

Pantry

  • Canned and dry beans, peas, and lentils
  • Whole-grain pasta, rice, and other grains
  • Pasta sauce, pesto
  • Cereal (it works as lunch or dinner in a pinch)
  • Dried and canned fruits
  • Canned vegetables
  • Nuts, seeds
  • Salad dressings, oils, vinegars, and mustards
  • Dry sauce mixes
  • Jarred peppers, olives
  • Croutons
  • Whole-grain bread and crackers
  • Canned fish in water

Refrigerator

  • Dairy foods -- yogurt; cheese; skim or low-fat milk
  • Eggs
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables
  • Pre-washed salads in bags
  • Light margarine
  • Pickles
  • 100% fruit juice

As you see, you don't need to spend lots of time or energy to whip up healthy meals for one or two. All you need is a plan -- and a well-stocked kitchen! Bon appetit.

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Food and recipe choices have a major impact on health and wellness. Knowing how to select healthy foods, read labels, stock your kitchen and prepare healthy recipes is a good start. We have all the information you need on special diets and healthy cooking, with tips and tricks to help you create delicious and nutritious meals.

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People who buy organic are seeking assurance that food production is gentle to the earth, and/or they're looking for safer, purer, more natural foods.

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Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Get all the information you need here.

Food Sources of Vitamins and Minerals

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, you're probably looking for the bottom line: how much do you need? Here's a chart to help you out.

Cooking Tips

After you clean out your kitchen, time to hit the grocery store and start cooking. Here are some tips for healthy recipes and healthy meals from start to finish.

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It is important to cook foods at a safe temperature to avoid food poisoning. The following picture shows you safe temperatures for a number of foods.

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Medically known as food-borne illness or food-borne disease, you probably know food poisoning as miserable -- whatever it's called.

Kitchen Germs

Quick tips to help keep bacteria and parasites out of your kitchen -- and your food.

Dining Out Dining Out Eating Out the Healthy Way

Resisting temptation at a restaurant can be tough, especially when you're taunted by seemingly unlimited choices -- like when they roll around the dessert cart.

Best and Worst Fast Food Breakfasts

While high-fat, high-calorie breakfasts abound at the nation's fast-food restaurants, most chains offer at least one or two healthier items -- if you must fill up at a drive-through.

Worst Restaurant Meals Slideshow

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has identified nine of the most fattening restaurant meals.

Recipes

Fear not, you can find nutritious recipes to suit your style. Check out our healthy recipes for all seasons, holidays, ethnicities, and health conditions.

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Looking for a healthy recipe? All of these healthy recipes are low in calories and can be incorporated into your diet plan.

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A perfect formula for fun-filled tailgate parties include coolers, barbecue grills, and lots of food.

Super-Fast and Easy Appetizer Recipes

In a rush? Whip up these simple appetizers in five minutes or less.

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Find ideas for healthy grilled dinners.

Easy Meals for One or Two

Skip the drive-through with these simple cooking tips.

Special Diets

Whether you're searching for meals you can prepare for a low sodium diet, looking for tips on cooking for vegetarians, or thinking of going gluten-free, you can still do it healthily.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Most doctors and nutritionists agree that a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be a boon to health.

Part-time Vegetarian

You won't miss the meat with these vegetarian recipes and meal ideas.

Mediterranean Diet

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Gluten-Free Diet Slideshow

A gluten-free diet is essential for most people with gluten allergies or celiac disease, a condition which causes intestinal damage when gluten is eaten.

Low Sodium Diet

Considering that salt is an ingredient in just about every type of processed food or restaurant meal, it's no wonder most Americans are getting double -- or triple -- the amount of sodium they need each day.

Raw Food Diet

Depending on the source, a raw food diet is either a path to perfect health or to serious undernourishment.

Detox Diets

Despite the popularity of detox diets, nutrition experts say they are not necessary nor are they scientifically proven to work.

Lactose Intolerance

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Food Resources

You may be cooking for just your family, but there’s a whole world of resources out there to help you get healthy food to the table.

Support Support Health & Cooking: Support

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Resources Resources Health & Cooking: Resources

Health and cooking resources.

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Healthy Recipe Finder