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Make-ahead ingredients for fabulous meals in a flash

By Lisa Crockett

A big part of eating healthy is thinking ahead. A long day combined with a fridge full of ingredients that need to be prepped and cooked, generally ends with a visit from the pizza delivery driver. Stock your fridge with good-for-you meal options (like the roasted sweet potatoes on previous page). Believe it or not, eating well is faster, easier and even cheaper than takeout. Here are some goodies to stash in your fridge or make in advance for nutritious, satisfying eats at all times of the night and day:

Egg “muffins”: grease a 12-cup muffin tin, then fill each muffin cup with a tablespoon of chopped veggies, a tablespoon of cooked sausage or bacon, and a tablespoon of shredded cheese. Scramble a dozen eggs, then divide the eggs evenly among the cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Allow egg muffins to cool slightly, remove from the muffin tin, then place in a plastic container. Muffins will keep several days and can be eaten cold or warmed slightly in the microwave.

Masterful muesli: mix a cup of rolled oats with chopped nuts and dried fruit (amounts are based on the ratio of oats to fruit and nuts you desire). Stir the mixture with enough yogurt (any flavor) to coat the oat mixture and then store in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with cinnamon.

True grit: take a cue from diners in the south, and make grits overnight. Combine a cup of grits in a four-quart slow cooker (or put a smaller baking dish into a six-quart slow cooker) combined with five cups of water and a quarter cup of butter. Cook on low for six to eight hours, then top with cheese, jam, fruit, bacon, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Lunch and Dinner:
Zippy zoodles: stock the freezer with pre-made, frozen veggie “noodles” made from carrots or zucchini (Trader Joe’s makes a tasty variety.) Brown an onion, then brown a pound of ground beef and add a jar or can of your favorite marinara sauce (Trader Joe’s has a nice choice here, too.) Store the meat sauce in the fridge for up to a week. When it’s time to eat, give the zoodles a quick zap in the microwave and top with the sauce.

Think outside the bun: load up on romaine leaves and bell peppers. For a low-carb wrap, layer lunch meat and condiments in the romaine leaves. A turkey burger on a red bell pepper (seeded and cut in half to make a “bun”) makes for a crunchy, savory treat.

Stir things up: in a Mason jar, combine ½ cup soy sauce, ½ cup chicken broth, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Stow the sauce in the fridge (it will last for a couple of weeks) and use it to dress stir-fried protein and veggies.

Hit the trail: combine your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal for a satisfying snack mix.

Cut it out: take a few hours on Saturday to chop veggies and fruit, and then divide it into snack-sized containers for easy snacks on the go.

Don’t be a jerk: chop beef jerky (use a brand low in sugar) and toss with whole-grain pretzel sticks. Serve with string cheese on the side for a quick meal replacement.



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