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Healthy Cooking Made Easy

A woman chopping vegetables in her kitchen.

Meal Plan with Ease (and Minimal Grocery Runs!)

The best thing to come out of more time at home? All those healthy homemade meals you're going to make! If you thought the only perk of being an instant homebody is catching up on every show on Netflix, hear me out here. Feeding yourself and your family a home cooked meal every night might seem really overwhelming, on top of everything else that is on your plate. Not to mention strategic grocery shopping to limit trips to the store. We are here to challenge you to find a new way to eat, with three hacks to make your kitchen and shopping life simpler.

Prioritize Your Produce

Plan ahead. Think about what fruits and veggies you have, and how long they will last. Eat things with a shorter shelf life first, and find ways to preserve those things in danger of not lasting. Buy the biggest container of fresh spinach you can find, and freeze half of it to put in smoothies when your fresh supply runs low. The same goes for berries and bananas. Buying frozen vegetables is also a great idea, save those for when the fresh ones run out. Move your apples, oranges, and avocados to the fridge once they are ripe-- that can extend their shelf life by weeks.

Eat What You Have

Instead of dreaming up a meal that requires a trip to the store, see what is hiding in your pantry, freezer, and fridge, and plan dinner around that. Recipes are not laws-- they can-- and should-- be adapted to what you have available. Channel your inner Julia Child! Get creative, and you just might discover your new favorite dish.

One Ingredient, Five Ways

Here's our favorite hack: make one versatile staple at the beginning of the week, and serve it all week long, a different way each time. Case in point: chicken.

Buy and cook a whole chicken (or two, depending on how many mouths you have to feed). It will seriously be the gift that keeps giving. Here's your dinner plan for the week:

Sunday: Roast chicken, sweet potatoes, and vegetables

Monday: Chicken Quinoa Soup

Tuesday: Barbecue Chicken on Salad Greens

Wednesday: Chicken Salad

Thursday: Buffalo chicken flatbread on cauliflower crust

Friday: Leftovers/Clean out the Fridge day

See what we did there? Every day you're building on what you already have, minimizing the prep work and maximizing the precious time you do have.

To start, on Sunday, roast the chicken. Use any recipe you want!

After Sunday dinner, shred all the extra chicken, and that's your protein for every single meal. If you're feeling ambitious, make a stock from the bones. If not, don't sweat it! You can use a pre-made broth or stock.

For Monday, sauté some veggies (garlic, carrots, onion, celery, whatever you have) in a big pot, add a half cup quinoa, chicken stock, a cup or two of chicken, salt, and pepper, and you are making soup. If quinoa isn't your thing, swap in barley, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or even beans.

On Tuesday, toss a handful of that chicken in barbecue sauce, and serve it over salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, whatever salad toppings you like.

Wednesday, make chicken salad- but make it healthy! Swap out some of that mayo for nonfat yogurt, add in celery, grapes, apples, chives, dried cranberries, whatever your taste buds desire. You could serve this on wheat toast.

Thursday, it's time for a flatbread pizza! (Did I mention this one is my favorite?) Mix a handful of chicken with 2 tablespoons of light cream cheese and hot sauce-- you be the judge on how much you need. Spread it on a frozen cauliflower pizza crust and add just a pinch of cheddar cheese. I like to add a little arugula when it comes out of the oven.

By Friday, you're bound to have some leftovers accumulating, so clean out the fridge.

Congratulations! You just made it through the work week. If chicken isn't your thing, choose a different staple. If you're a vegetarian, black beans can be equally as versatile- think black bean soup, black bean burgers, veggie burritos, you get the idea.

So who's with me? Home cooking can be for everyone, even the overworked.

Love what we're cooking? Here's your grocery list.

  • 1 or 2 whole chickens (when in doubt, make two! Hello, leftovers!)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • Vegetables for roasting
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 celery
  • 1 garlic bulb (minced is fine)
  • Salad greens (arugula, or other)
  • Grapes and/or apples (for chicken salad
  • Tomato and cucumber (optional, for salad)
  • 32 oz chicken stock (optional)
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Light mayo
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Quinoa (or brown rice, barley, or whole wheat pasta)
  • Wheat bread
  • Cauliflower pizza crust
  • Low-fat cream cheese
  • Shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper