yellow bell pepper beside red cherry tomato near green ceramic bowl

A Quick, Easy, and Healthy Daily Food Plan

Preparing healthy food quickly can be a challenge. There’s no getting around it: it takes longer to put together a nutritious meal at home than it does to go through the local drive-thru! A major stumbling block in trying to maintain healthy eating habits is the amount of time it can take to prepare your own food.

Over the years I have developed a way of eating that really works. I love to nourish my body with healthy and satisfying foods, made with lots of fresh produce, whole grains, protein, and good fats. Having said that, I also don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen every day!

What if I told you that there is a way to prepare healthy food quickly at home, without resorting to the drive-thru? Keep reading to find out what my secret is.

Eating well doesn’t have to be time-consuming

clear glass with red sand grainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After years of experimenting with different ways of food preparation, I have my own tried-and-true strategy down to a science! I am a pro at throwing together a meal quickly and efficiently, without ever sacrificing taste or variety. 

I would like to share my basic go-to breakfast, lunch, and dinner with you. I hope that it will inspire you to try making more of your own meals at home. It’s a general framework that can be scaled up or down to satisfy your own needs and preferences. Sticking to the basic meal blueprint allows for quick, easy, and healthy meal preparation. 

1. Breakfast

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Oatmeal

Start with a bowl of cooked oatmeal, and add to it whatever your heart desires! Below is a list of mix-ins and toppings that I love; feel free to try some of these, and have fun coming up with your own favorite combinations!

Mix-ins:

  • Yogurt, milk, or cottage cheese
  • Nut or seed butter (unsweetened)
  • Spices (cinnamon, turmeric, Chinese 5-spice, or cardamom)
  • Raisins, or any other kind of dried fruit
  • “Superfood” supplements– greens powders (such as moringa, kale, matcha green tea), maca, cocoa powder, nutritional yeast; red powders (such as beet or pomegranate)

Toppings:

  • Nuts or seeds
  • Granola
  • Coconut chips (unsweetened)
  • Chocolate chips (dark chocolate)
  • Cacao nibs (unsweetened)

2. Lunch

The “one-bowl meal”

This has proven to be the easiest and quickest way of putting together a lunch. The beauty of the 1-bowl meal is that while being a great meal to enjoy at home, it is also super easy to put into a container to take on the go. Great for work, school, or outings!

At the beginning of the week, I cook some whole grains in my rice cooker and make enough to last the entire week. After it’s done cooking, I allow it to completely cool down, then place it into a large container. It keeps well in the refrigerator for about 5 days. This makes it easy to use as a base for different combinations of whole grains, vegetables, protein, and sauce and/or seasoning. 

I sometimes use a whole grain pasta as my base, instead of a cooked grain, but this does involve the extra step of cooking the pasta. I have found cooking pasta ahead of time and keeping it in the refrigerator doesn’t really work well. The taste and texture just aren’t very good if it isn’t cooked fresh. But if you have a few extra minutes to boil some water, pasta also makes a tasty and nutritious base for your bowl.

Base:

  • whole grain (such as brown rice, white rice, quinoa, millet, or buckwheat)
  • or
  • whole grain pasta (made from any of the above grains), freshly cooked

Vegetables:

I like to use a combination of several different steamed fresh veggies. You could use frozen if you prefer, and can also stir-fry instead of steaming.

  • Zucchini or yellow squash
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts
  • Bell pepper (red, yellow, or green)
  • Green beans
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peas
  • Radishes
  • Carrots

Protein:

Choose one, or a combination of several.

  • Cooked beans (I usually use canned for convenience, but you can pre-cook ahead of time). Examples: pinto, black, red or white kidney, navy, fava, black-eyed peas, lima, garbanzo
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Organic meat or fish (cooked or canned). Examples: beef, chicken, fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • Organic eggs (fried, scrambled, boiled, poached)

Sauce:

The choices are endless, and using different sauces can really add lots of variety to your daily lunches. Try those listed below, or use your imagination to come up with new ideas!

  • Marinara
  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Harissa
  • Hummus
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tabasco
  • Artichoke bruschetta

Toppings/mix-ins:

Try a few of these to add some extra flavor and texture.

  •  Nuts or seeds
  • Sliced green onions
  • Nutritional yeast flakes
  • Parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Avocado
  • Fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, chives, parsley, or cilantro)

Seasonings:

Add a nice finishing touch to your bowl.

  • Salt (flaked or course ground specialty salts, such as Himalayan pink, Celtic grey, or smoked salt)
  • Dried herbs and spices (single or blends)
  • Chili flakes/powder


3. Dinner

Salad

I love a big salad for dinner. It’s quick and easy to put together and fits right in with your healthy eating goals. Not only that, it’s gorgeous to look at with all of those colorful vegetables!

Start out with a large bowl of your base of greens and veggies. Add your preferred protein, dressing, and any additions you want. Choose a healthy carb to have on the side, and dinner’s ready.

Base:

  •  A large bowl of organic greens (baby kale, arugula, spring mix, romaine; any of these, or a combination)
  • Steamed vegetables (select from lunch list examples, and/or any others you prefer)

Dressing:

Any salad dressing you prefer can be used, but be sure to check nutrition labels. Many bottled salad dressings contain a lot of sugar! Olive oil is better than canola or sunflower oil.

I usually make my own simple dressing. Just mix some sesame tahini and either lemon juice or vinegar together, until it’s the consistency you like. It’s easy to make, healthy, and tastes great!

Protein:

Whatever kind you like (see lunch suggestions for ideas)

Additions:

  • Sauerkraut or kim chee
  • Kale chips
  • Avocado
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Pickles (sliced or chopped)

On the side:

I like to have some type of carbohydrate to go with my big salad. These are all healthy choices!

  • Whole-grain toast (spread with either organic butter, or a nut/seed butter)
  • Whole grain pasta, with sauce (see lunch examples)
  • A baked potato or sweet potato

In conclusion

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

So there you have it! This is the basic meal framework that I use on a daily basis. It keeps my life simple, while still allowing me to maintain my healthy eating standards. I have eaten this way for literally years and years, and I honestly never tire of it! I have found that by mixing and matching ingredients, I am able to come up with endless variations of tastes and textures. Every meal is different and satisfying.

I hope you will try out some of my ideas to make eating healthy less time-consuming. After trying some of these suggestions, use your imagination to come up with your own delicious, healthy, and fast meals! 

Please feel free to add your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below. I’d love to hear how you used my guide to come up with your own favorite combinations! ?

Assorted Colorful Vegetables Arranged on Round Stainless Steel Plate

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