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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.

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