10 healthy foods you can prepare in advance to make 5 minute meals

Somehow over the last few years my taste for food has drastically changed. I don't know how it happened, but it seemed to be a slow progression. Maybe my tastebuds matured for healthier foods? I don't know. :)

Ten years ago I used to eat mostly pasta {lots of pasta!}, Lean Cuisines, tons of bread and prepackaged snack foods, and I never ate veggies unless they were from a can. And no joke, eating a salad for dinner was actually felt like some kind of cruel punishment {I almost can't believe it now!}. It wasn't until seven years ago after working for a real restaurant that I learned more about cooking and started to fall in love with good food. I started to love real vegetables!!

Then, after doing the Original Food Diet in 2012, I'd say my love for real food grew even stronger. I branched out into all kinds of squashes, mushrooms, grains, and even tofu. And it was fun. :)

And at the very end of 2012, sometime around the week after I found I out I was pregnant with #5, my appetite changed and all I could stand was bread and processed carbs {mainly in the form of Cool Ranch Doritos}. I usually don't get too sick when I'm pregnant, mostly just nauseous, but for that pregnancy, my even my beloved salad {favorite food ever} went out the door. I didn't even want to smell a vegetable. :) My appetite gradually got better, but I couldn't eat anything like I usually did.

Thankfully, few weeks after the baby was born my regular {weird} appetite started to return {hallelujah}, and since I've been nursing, I've been trying to eat a very balanced diet with more indulgences than I would usually enjoy so that I can keep my calories higher. :) 

With my hands full these days, I have to figure out ways to make foods in big enough quantities to last at least a meal or two. :) I like lunch to be easy and fast! :) But still be good food too, you know? Most of the time I eat what I feel like I need- usually a protein and a veggie or a carb. Also, If I'm eating real food, I try not to limit my quantity of food like I would with a processed portion.
Here are ten of my favorite foods I can prepare in advance for easy, healthy lunches that work for me in this season:

1. Rice.
I love short grain brown rice, and basmati made in our rice cooker. We buy both in bulk at Sam's Club and Costco. ;) Rice goes with or in nearly everything, so I don't season it until I use it. :) Salsa is a favorite rice topper at our house. If you are only eating real foods, I think you can eat 1 cup a day and be satisfied.

2. Quinoa.
I cook this in my rice maker now, and it's so easy to make several cups and store it in the fridge. I usually add garlic salt to taste. It's also a good source of protein. I like the red version! I get a big scoop out for lunch with a veggie or a protein to go with it and I'm good. :)

3. Sweet potatoes.
I much prefer baked to microwaved when it comes to potatoes. I stick several pierced ones in the oven at 400 degrees, all wrapped in foil individually and cooked until tender {about 45 min- 1 hour} and they are amazing to eat throughout the week. They need nothing added to be fantastic. :)

4. Tuna.
I love tuna because it's full of protein, and is still so light! I like a little seasoning on plain tuna like lemon pepper or something like citrus grill seasoning. :) Just open a can when you need it for an easy portion.

5. Ground turkey.
I mentioned before I make several pounds of this at one time and use it through the week. I like to freeze the smaller portions the first day I make it so that it tastes fresh and we can add it into whatever we like. I really like the 93/7 ratio for turkey.

6. Avocado.
God's natural butter. I never thought I would love avocado, but I do. Seasoning is good, but not required. I love mixing it in plain with my grains for a filling, amazing meal. I usually buy 5 a week, and my husband and I eat them like they're dessert. :) If you keep them in the fridge, hard green ones will last all week.

7. Chicken breast.
I love precooking my chicken for meals {tutorial here}, but when I was pregnant I couldn't handle the smell or taste of reheated chicken, so I bought the store version of precooked grilled chicken breast strips. I'm finally back for it now, but I still keep the store version on hand for whenever I need it. I'm all for whatever works for you when it comes to staying on course with healthier foods! :)

8. E. Texas Caviar.
It's been a while since I made this, but it's one of my favorites to keep on hand. The main problem with it is that it never lasts long enough. ;)

9. Beans
I'd say beans are the dietary staple at our house. We don't use lots of meat {we do like sandwich meat and the ones above!}, but beans are always a easy option. Soak them in a crockpot the night before, then rinse and turn them on with lots of water in the morning and they'll taste great by dinner!! I have tried lots of seasonings but I think just plenty of salt is the best.

We also keep a few 7 lb. cans of Bush's pinto beans on hand for fast food if we're in a pinch. I can't tell you how many times those big cans saved us from eating out. :) Even though they're way more expensive canned, $3.50 for lunch is so much better than $23.50 for lunch. :) A single can of black beans makes a great meal alone, too. Like the chicken, do what works for you! Canned is okay sometimes! :)

10. Salad.
Oh, sweet salad. I love it. I usually eat cabbage mix because it's so filling and $1 lb. and it is so good. I was so thankful when I could eat acidic dressings again. I usually eat Olive Garden dressing from Sam's Club, or raspberry vinaigrette with no corn syrup on it. :) Salad is always super easy to make in a hurry, and you can prepare a big batch of it every couple of days to make it even easier.

And those are my 10 favorites at the moment. I'm over the moon that I'm getting back to my old diet! And I'm so excited about summer coming- I'm thinking of all those fresh vegetables and I can't wait to enjoy them {unlike the preggo version of me last year!}.

What are your easy, go-to healthy foods?

What's a food you like to prepare in advance for a quick meal?


Adrienne Reina said...

Love this thanks for the ideas? My easy go to wIs for sure quinoa...love it oh and chia seed. Food I like to prepare before hand are smoothies. Thanks for sharing sis!! I love pushing my easy button on those meals.,lol

Blessings, adrienne

Mellissa Rose said...

Thank you for your guide (on the other blog thread) for cooking chicken. My husband eats chicken almost every day and we cook a LOT of chicken. I usually throw it in the oven at 335 and it takes way too long and is tough on the outside. I'm going to try 425 next time - thanks!

Little Man's Mom said...

do you have a recipe for the Texas caviar?

Renee said...

My go-to for lunch lately is chopped cabbage with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, almonds or peanuts with a homemade spicy peanut dressing. I love cabbage because it is cheap and last so much longer in the fridge than lettuce.

jeana said...

Great ideas! I love a roasted chicken cut up and added to rice bowls, salad, or my favorite, cut the chicken in bite size pieces ad some mayo, lime, sriracha, green onions, bell pepper, and cilantro. I put that on Ezekiel bread if I have it and top with avacado. So good!

Sophie from France said...

Thank you for all these ideas! Here, it's the same: rice, vegetables (in soups), red beans and salsa ... but lentils with coconut milk and curry or green lentils with soy sauce ... I must try the caviar texas!
I do not usually prepare much in advance, but you give me lots of ideas so I'll try (also kits for the bread!)
I do not have a crock pot, I wonder if it's worth it to buy one or not? Will you use it a lot and do it really makes life easier for you? I have a Thermomix, but I think it is too small for 8 if I want there to have leftovers ...

Sophie from France said...

Oh, another question for you! What is the slow cooker also rice cooker or not? I really hesitate to buy one (slow cooker) ...

Mandy said...

Oh I need to pull out my chia seeds!! :) thanks for the reminder! Do you freeze your smoothie ingredients?

Mandy said...

oh let me know how it goes!! I like mine what some people would consider undercooked- I think it's perfect for reheating when it's super juicy when you cut it. :)

Mandy said...

here it is: http://biblicalhomemaking.blogspot.com/2012/04/original-food-diet-week-2.html :D

Mandy said...

I'm with you on the cabbage!! It will be awesome to have nuts again some day too!! yum!

Mandy said...

oh wow!! that sounds awesome!! Is it spicy?

Mandy said...

I have your pizza on my list to try still!! Now that I can eat good food again I'm so ready!! :D I love the way your food sounds, Sophie! :) I definitely think a crockpot is a good buy- but get a big one with your crew! If you can find one used, even better so you can try it out before investing lots of money!

Mandy said...

it is different- here is a rice cooker: http://www.amazon.com/Aroma-ARC-150SB-Uncooked-Digital-Steamer/dp/B0055FSN0Y - it can cook other foods, but a slow cooker doesn't cook rice as well- it's mostly for other foods.

Anonymous said...

FYI, been doing a lot of research and watch out for the tofu and corn intake....full of GMO's! :)

Betsy said...

I need to start making quinoa more often. I love that stuff!

Liz said...

Don't like to eat brown rice, because it has a higher arsenic level than other rice...I think Basmati has one of the lowest, so that is what we use. Love to fry cabbage up with a little bacon grease. I make a salad with spinach, romaine, tomato, boiled egg, and a bit of cheese. And we bake chicken breasts...sometimes with dry taco seasoning rubbed in and salsa on top (adding a small dab of sour cream when serving). I don't prep ahead much, as I think veggies and fruit last longer if they aren't cut until ready to use them. We do prep some meat ahead of time.

Sophie from France said...

Ok, thank you!

Sophie from France said...

You tell me if you liked the pizza!
It could be a recipe exchange: a Texan meals against a French meal ... my kids will love it!
And I see used crockpot at 25/30 euros (34/40 $) but I don't know if it's a big one or not...I have to check.

Anonymous said...

Great nutrititional, cheap tips. Love it, thank you!
For anyone interested in non-GMO rice, jasmine is from Thailand grown the paddy way. Wal mart has 20# bags for about $17. Yes, it is more expensive than other rices, but compared to other foods, still a bargain. Perhaps it is even cheaper at Sams or Costco?

Marjolein said...

Have you heard from the book 'Trim Healthy Mama' ? Its really a book full of biblical wisdom for healthy food, loosing weight, hormones, bodycare etc. I know for sure you will love it!! Thank you for your 5 min. Breadrecipe your shared at another blogpost. We make this bread now everyday and we LOVE it!!

Anonymous said...

do you have a favorite salsa recipe you use?

Anonymous said...

I love the citrus grill seasonoing but have not been able to find if or along time. have you bought it recently and where?

Anonymous said...

Quinoa cooked in rice cooker!!! Thank you for the tip!!!!