Quick and Easy Minimal Cook Healthy Meal Ideas, Grocery List and Simple Recipes

Published:  11/13/2016

Healthy food ingredients to keep in the pantry for weeknight cooking

With some key healthy ingredients on hand, its easy to put together meals when you get home from work. These ideas are so easy, even a busy bachelor can do it! I created these meal ideas along with grocery lists and a few recipes for a male client who doesn't know how to cook and was very intimidated with the thought of putting together healthy meals. He loves it and not eating out every night or relying on frozen pizza is helping him reach his health goals.

Below are idea combinations, but feel free to mix and match. Scroll down and I give you a grocery list, a Trader Joe's Grocery list, a list of my favorite whole grain cereals, best-tasting low-cal salad dressing and a few simple recipes.

In addition here are some more ideas to help you make quick and healthy meals.

  • Bowls: grain, meat and veggies
  • Casseroles, these can be made ahead and leftovers reheated
  • Soups: these can be made ahead and leftovers reheated
  • Make ahead salads
  • Keep cooked protein on hand (Costco chicken, cut and frozen), cooked frozen shrimp, grill chicken to use later in the week
  • Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs + Veg; pancakes
  • Quesadillas: easy to have items on hand to make
  • Crockpot or instapot: you can even do freezer to crockpot meals. Do a google search.
  • Meal prep ahead: Spend a couple hours a couple times a week to prepare soups, salads, vegetables, casseroles, meat for later in the week.
  • Pantry staples list: having a list makes shopping easier.
  • Shopping lists: have master lists for frequently shopped stores
  • Shopping area in kitchen: have a designated area with pen, paper, coupons and store sale flyers
  • Favorite recipe cookbook: put all the healthy recipes you have tried and like in one notebook.
  • Section of easy peasy meals, no recipe ideas in you family favorite cookbook notebook
  • Create a file with"to try" recipes
  • Enlist help: kids can help! Here is a list of age appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen.  This will help you teach your kid how to cook by age.

Easy Meal Ideas

Grain Bowls: Here is my Ultimate Guide to Making Grain Bowls

Rotisserie Chicken + Salad or Cooked Vegetables (Broccoli, Greens, Asparagus, Zucchini) + Cooked Whole Grains

Chicken Caesar Salad + 2 Tbs reduced fat Caesar Dressing + 2 Tbs Parmesan

Canned Turkey Chili + Brown Rice + Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar + Reduced Fat Sour Cream

Chicken Saute + Trader Joe's Masala Sauce + Cooked Whole Grains

Tuscany Chicken - see recipe

Sandwich + Raw Vegetables + 2 Tbs Low-fat Ranch

Shrimp Sauté or Fish (Trader Joe's frozen) or Chicken + Cooked Vegetables (Broccoli, Greens, Asparagus, Zucchini) + Cooked Whole Grains

Salad greens + tomato + lean meat or fish or canned albacore tuna + 2 Tbs low-fat dressing + 2 Tbs pumpkin seeds

2 eggs + 1 egg white Scrambled Eggs + Mushrooms or other veggie + 2 Tbs reduced fat cheese + 1 slice Dave's Killer Bread + 1 tsp Brummel and Brown

Trader Joe's Quinoa Melange + Cooked Vegetables (Broccoli, Greens, Asparagus, Zucchini) or Salad

Trader Joe's Vegetable Lasagna + Salad OR Cooked Vegetables

Oatmeal + Skim Milk + 2 Tbs Walnuts + 1 cup Fruit

Scrambled Eggs or omelet, Dave's Toast, Fruit

Wrap with a spread of light cream cheese, leftover meat or lunchmeat and veggies

Red sauce and pasta and meat and steamed green beans

Cheese Quesadillas with Black beans and bell pepper, salsa and reduced fat sour cream

Chili with reduced fat cheese and salsa and reduced fat sour cream

Taco Bowls: Brown rice, black beans or chili, tomatoes, chopped spinach, cheese, sour cream, salsa

Oven baked salmon with roasted vegetables (butternut squash, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower)

Wrap using tortilla, light cream cheese, reduced fat may, mustard, pesto, sliced tomato, greens, leftover chicken, or natural lunchmeat

Sandwich with Dave's Bread, reduced fat mayo, lunch meat and veggies (spinach, tomatoes, olives, onion)

BBQ Chicken Breasts and roasted cauliflower

Baked Potato with Beans and Cheese + Salad OR Cooked Vegetable OR Fruit

Trader Joe's Masala Sauce + Trader Joe's Organic Firm Tofu + Black Beans served on brown rice

Trader Joe's Masala Sauce + Trader Joe's Organic Firm Tofu + Chopped Fresh Spinach served with steamed green beans

Cottage cheese stuffed baked potatoes. Scoop out the inside of a baked potato, and mix those tater guts with one cup of cottage cheese

Salads, See Salad Inspiration Ideas

Cold Cereal or Oatmeal, Milk and Frozen organic blueberries or cherries + flaxseed meal

Rotisserie chicken from the deli + Salad or Cooked Vegetables Or Fruit

Shrimp sautéed in olive oil and garlic + Roasted Veggies or Salad + Healthy Harvest Pasta or Brown Rice

Peanut Butter Sandwiches on Dave's Bread or Whole Wheat Tortilla + Skim Milk + Fruit

Also consider Trader Joe's grocery list items for meal ideas. (Frozen entrees, grains sides dishes and frozen meats)

Grocery List of Foods to Keep in Your Pantry

  • 2% Reduced Fat Cheddar Shredded
  • Any ingredients you need to make the salads below.
  • Black Beans
  • Bran Flakes, TOTAL, Frosted Mini-Wheats original Kellogg's, Kashi Autumn Wheat, Kashi GoLean Crisp! Multigrain Cluster Cereal, Kashi's Heart to Heart
  • Brown Rice
  • Brummel and Brown Spread for toast
  • Canned Albacore Tuna packed in water
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned Mushrooms
  • Canned TURKEY Chili, Fat-Free Chili with Beans, canned
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Cottage Cheese, 2%
  • Dave's Killer Bread 21
  • Deli Turkey or Chicken no preservatives, without nitrate or nitrite, also called natural. Boars Head a good brand.
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseed Meal
  • Frozen organic blueberries or cherries
  • Fruit (apple, berries, banana, orange)
  • Healthy Harvest Pasta
  • Nonfat or Skim Milk
  • Olive Oil, extra virgin
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Peanut Butter
  • Red Sauce
  • Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
  • Reduced fat mayo
  • Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Reduced Fat Sour Cream
  • Rotisserie Chicken from the deli
  • Salad Dressing, see list of choices
  • Salsa
  • Shrimp (fresh or bagged frozen)
  • Vegetables Broccoli, Cauliflower, Greens, Asparagus, Zucchini, Tomato, Onion, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Spinach, Salad Greens, Salad Toppings, Green Beans, Russet Potatoes, Bell Pepper, Butternut Squash
  • Walnuts, chopped
  • Whole Oats
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas, Mission, Burrito size
  • Also See Trader Joe's Grocery List

Trader Joe's List

  • Organic Extra Firm Tofu
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Masala Sauce
  • Vegetables (Precut butternut squash, spinach, precut cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, greens, Healthy 8 tub of chopped vegetables, avocadoes)
  • 10 minute farro or barley
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Deli turkey or chicken, no preservatives
  • Frozen fish

Roasted Broccoli    You can use this method for cauliflower, butternut squash, or carrots. Time to cook will be different.

  • 1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or sharp reduced fat Cheddar, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
Put broccoli on a foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the cheese and serve immediately.

Steamed Green Beans
Prepare 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of fresh green beans by snapping them or cutting them to approximately 1 inch in length and rinsing them.
Place 1 inch salted water in a large pot. Add green beans, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook until green beans are tender to the bite about 15-20 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your cooked green beans). Drain into a colander.

Baked Potato with Beans and Cheese
Wash and poke a couple holes in a baker (russet) potato. Microwave until soft. Cut in half and top with 3/4 cup canned, drained black beans or chili. Top with 3 Tbs 2% reduced fat sharp cheddar, put back in the microwave to heat the beans and melt the cheese. Top with salsa.

Tuscany Chicken
Brown 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes and 1 small chopped onion, in an oiled skillet over medium. 1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes. Cover and simmer 5-7 minutes. Serve over cooked whole grains.

Vegetable Omelet

  • 5 eggs, remove 3 yolks
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar
  • Sautéed veggies: Choose from a combination of cooked asparagus, cooked broccoli, cooked onions or red pepper fresh mushrooms, cooked tomatoes, spinach

In a bowl, separate the eggs discarding 3 of the yolks. Beat eggs, water, salt, and pepper until frothy.
In a small sauté pan, cook vegetables.
Wipe oil onto the bottom of a large nonstick skillet. Pour in eggs and cook covered, over medium heat, 6 to 7 minutes until bottom is lightly browned and top is set. Spoon hot sautéed veggies over half the omelet, and then gently slide it out of skillet onto platter, folding the half without filling over bottom half. Sprinkle top with cheese.

Black Bean Wrap
On 1 8-inch whole-wheat tortilla, mash ¼ cup drained and rinsed black beans with a fork. Sprinkle with a pinch of cumin, a pinch of paprika, and 1 tbsp. cheddar cheese. Roll up and microwave for 30 seconds. Serve with 2 tbsp. salsa.

Honey Soy Salmon
Preheat the broiler and combine ½ tbsp. honey with ½ tsp. soy sauce. Season 1 5-oz. salmon filet with salt and pepper and broil for five minutes. Drizzle with honey-soy sauce and broil an additional 2-5 minutes.

Salad Inspiration

Fall Salad
Chopped Pecans, Chopped Apple, Feta Cheese Crumbles, Pomegranate Seeds, on a bed of fresh greens served with a low-fat Vinaigrette Salad Dressing.

Barbecue Chicken Chopped Salad
Grilled Chicken Breast, Bbq Sauce, Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Black Beans, Cubed Jicama, Pumpkin Seeds Corn, Diced Tomatoes and Red Onion. Serve With Lowfat Or Reduced Fat Ranch Dressing or Cilantro Dressing.

Taco Salad
Grilled Chicken, Shrimp or Flank Steak, Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Sliced Black Olives, Black Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Chopped Fresh Cilantro, Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cubed Jicama, Corn, Pumpkin seeds, Diced Tomatoes and Red or Green Onion and Tortilla Chip Strips. Serve With Lowfat Or Reduced Fat Ranch Dressing mixed with some Chipotle in Adobe or Cilantro Dressing.

Shrimp, Berry and Goat Cheese Salad
Warm Sautéed Shrimp on a Mound Of Crisp Mixed Greens, Sliced Strawberries, Raspberries And Blueberry With A Crumble Of Goat Cheese.

Chicken Fajita Salad
Sautéed Chicken Breast, Sautéed Onions, Garlic And Red Pepper Strips Served Atop A Generous Mound Of Crisp Mixed Greens, Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar, Black Olives, Salsa, Reduced Fat Or Fat Free Sour Cream And Avocado Cubes.

Garden Salad
Crisp Mixed Greens (Your Choice Of Spinach, Romaine, Red Leaf) Carrots, Red Cabbage, Tomato, Cucumber And Thinly Sliced Red Onions. Add Cooked Shrimp, Chicken Or Salmon. Serve With A Reduced Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Caesar Salad
Fresh Crisp Chopped Romaine Lettuce Tossed With Reduced Fat Caesar Dressing And Shredded Parmesan Cheese. Top with Grilled Chicken, Shrimp Or Salmon.

Harvest Salad
Grilled Chicken Breast, Berries (Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry Or Strawberry), Low Fat Feta Crumbles, Toasted Chopped Walnuts Served Atop A Generous Mound Of Mixed Greens. Serve With A Reduced Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Or Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Cobb Salad
Crisp Mixed Greens, Small Cooked Shrimp Or Chopped Cooked Chicken, Chopped Hard Cooked Egg, Avocado, Tomatoes, Black Olive Slices And Chopped Red Onion, Chives Or Green Onion, A Smidge Of Crumbled Roquefort Or Blue Cheese With A Dijon Red Wine Vinaigrette.

Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges
Spinach, Sliced Mushrooms, Mandarin Oranges, Toasted slivered almond, red onion rings tossed with a sweet vinaigrette.

Here are my favorite bottle salad dressings.

  • Annie's Goddess Light
  • Bernstein's Cheese Fantastico
  • Bolthouse Farms Reduced fat Blue Cheese
  • Girard's Light Caesar
  • Girard's Light Champagne
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Light
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Light
  • Ken's Steakhouse Lite Raspberry
  • Lite Northern Italian w/ Basil & Romano
  • Newman's Own Lighten Up! Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Newman's Own Lighten Up! Lowfat Sesame Ginger
  • Oppa Caesar (refrigerated)
  • Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Cilantro Salad Dressing
  • Wishbone Just 2 Good! Ranch, French or Blue Cheese
  • Wishbone Raspberry Hazelnut Vinaigrette
  • Wishbone Red Wine
  • Wishbone Taste of Life Garden Italian or Honey; Catalina

Healthy Whole Grain Cereals

  • Nature's Path Optimum 1 cup has 190 calories, 10 whopping grams of fiber, half the sodium as Wheaties, 16 grams sugar, 200 mg sodium.
  • A kid friendly cereal is Barbara's Puffins which has flavors from cinnamon to peanut butter, and is rich in whole-grains and fiber, low in salt and added sugar and free of artificial flavor and color enhancers.
  • Uncle Sam has 237 calories, 11 grams of fiber, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar for a large 55 g serving.
  • Kashi's Heart to Heart in a ¾ cup has 110 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams sugar, and only 90 mg sodium.
  • Kashi GoLean Crisp! Multigrain Cluster Cereal
  • Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice is gluten free (for those who have celiac disease), 110 calories, half a gram of fat and 1 gram of sugar for a 30 gram serving.
  • Bob's Red Mill Meusli is gluten free (for those who have celiac disease), 110 calories, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a 29 gram serving.
  • Kashi Autumn Wheat has 180 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of sugar for 29 biscuits.
  • Kashi Simply Maize corn cereal contains 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar for ¾ cup.
  • Whole Grain TOTAL contains only 97 calories, 1g of fat and 5g of sugars per 30g serving.
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats original Kellogg's. A 30g serving of the original kind contains only 102 calories, less than 1g of fat, 3g of fiber, 6g of sugar, and 3mg of sodium.
  • Cheerios. A 30g serving of plain Cheerios contains 111 calories, 2g of fat, 4g of fiber, and 2g of sugar. The only snag is that they are slightly high in sodium with 213mg of sodium.
  • Post Grape-Nuts Flakes. A 30g serving of flakes has 106 calories, 1g of fat, 3g of fiber, 5g of sugar, and 140mg of sodium.
  • Kellogg's Complete Wheat Bran Flakes have 92 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar in a 29 gram serving.

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Maria Faires, RD

If you need an individualized plan contact me to work with me 1-on- 1. 

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