Why not look in your pantry, root through your freezer and search the refrigerator to come up with some short-cut meals? People ask me if I cook and I say yes, but I also do a lot of meal assembly when time is tight. Here are some meals in minutes that will please the family and the cook.
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Fit to Eat columns
• Chris Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., is a member of the nutrition faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University
• Brown, black and red burritos. Use a bag of ready rice (brown rice is best) and cook in microwave according to package directions. Pour the rice in a bowl and mix in a can of drained black beans and some jarred salsa to taste. Wrap in tortillas or stuff in pita bread and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Serve with a side of baked tortilla chips and salsa.
• Chicken soup meal. Take a couple of cans of chicken soup (or any broth-based soup) and add a can of mixed, drained vegetables and a can of drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with whole-grain bread.
• Pasta in a hurry. Cook any type of pasta in your pantry according to package directions (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc.). Heat olive oil in frying pan and toss in bite-size pieces of vegetables (broccoli, bell peppers, onions, carrots, etc.). Serve over pasta with drizzle of olive oil. Serve with side salad and bread sticks.
• Tuna toast. Drain a can or two of tuna and add finely chopped celery, onions, olives and raisins and mix with reduced-fat mayonnaise. Spread over thick slices of whole-wheat bread or any bread in your freezer. Place under broiler to heat through. Serve with baby carrots and apple wedges.
• Tortellini soup. Cook a package of refrigerated or dried tortellini (any kind will do). Drain. Mix one can of chicken broth with one can diced tomatoes. Add chopped garlic and dried basil. Mix in tortellini. Serve with green salad or steamed vegetables.
• Chicken nuggets. Using boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thaw in microwave if frozen), slice into strips. Dredge in an egg white (give the yolk to your dog) and dredge in panko (bread crumbs). Bake on cookie sheet (covered in foil for easy clean up); add slices of potato drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of dried rosemary on the same baking sheet and cook until the chicken and potatoes are done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with cooked frozen or canned green vegetable.
TOP 10 PANTRY ITEMS FOR SHORT-CUT MEALS
• Cans of beans (keep a variety on hand: black, kidney, garbanzo, cannellini and pinto)
• Bags of ready rice (brown is preferred)
• High-protein whole-grain pastas
• Cans of broth-based soup
• Olive oil
• Couscous, bulgur or millet
• Light chunk tuna canned in water
• Low-fat microwave popcorn
TOP 10 FREEZER ITEMS FOR SHORT-CUT MEALS
• Whole-grain breads
• Chicken breast or chicken thighs
• Whole-wheat tortillas
• Vegetables (buy bags of veggies for easy storage)
• Turkey or black bean burgers
• Frozen fruit (for out-of-season use)
• Whole-wheat pitas
• Whole-grain waffles
• Ground turkey breast
• Frozen boneless fish fillets