Eating healthy on a tight schedule and budget can be difficult, but gets so much easier with practice. Allowing myself to cheap out on the bulk of my ingredients and prep time, and supplement them with fresh produce and some special add-ons have transformed my life. Instead of stressing over time and the pressure to make a delicious meal for my family, I cheat and it works! No one will be the wiser and will love these quick meals.

Easy Vegetable Omelets

Frozen bags of mixed vegetables are a staple in my home. Carrots, broccoli and snow peas make excellent easy stir fry toppings and bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms make excellent omelet or quiche ingredients. Simple warm olive oil in a pan on medium heat, add your bag of vegetables, place lid on top and stir occasionally to begin. Add brown rice or eggs and seasoning to taste. Simplifying your meals by removing prep time and the amount of pots and pans needed is key. This meal minimizes cleaning and chopping vegetables and only uses 1 or 2 pans. Your meal should be on the breakfast table in 30.

Healthy Choice Chipotle At Home

Healthy Choice Steamers makes a delicious burrito bowl you can top with your favorite fresh “Chipotle” ingredients. This meal can be really fast, satisfying and cheap. All you need to purchase is the frozen meals (1-2 per 2 person meal), soft shell tortillas, a chopped head of lettuce, shredded cheese, an avocado for guacamole, and cooked ground turkey or beef if meat is desired.

Muffins with Real Fruit

Muffin mixes are inexpensive and make great grab-and-go breakfasts or midday snacks, so I make a muffin pan full about once per week. Blueberry, mixed berry and banana nut muffins are popular varieties. Some corresponding fresh fruit mashed and some applesauce to add moisture makes these muffins taste like they are from scratch. Dusting the tops with sugar post-oven, or adding nuts or flax seed atop pre-oven makes these even more special.

Salad Transformed

Salad kits are between 3.00 and 5.00 and have the basic ingredients for a simple salad. You can choose to deviate from a boring Caesar side salad and shoot for a show-stopping salad that constitutes a whole meal by choosing to make it into a garden salad, Greek salad or taco salad. A garden salad can be dressed with fresh cherry tomatoes, fancy sliced cucumber, red onion and black olives. Greek salads are made up of the later, only with Kalamata olives and feta crumbled cheese. Taco salads very, but mainly consist of cubed tomato and avocado, taco seasoned ground turkey or beef, and tortilla chip strips for crunch. Corn, beans, and cheese are other great additions. Transform the Caesar salad dressing you have in your kit by adding equal part salsa and chopped cilantro. This meal will not disappoint.

Chili and Cornbread

Chili and cornbread can be made almost entirely from unrefrigerated items. I usually wing my chili since I’ve made it successfully so many times, but if you need an exact recipe there are many online to choose from. Otherwise, acquire 3 cans of beans of different varieties (black, pinto, kidney, cannellini, etc), one can of corn, 1-2 small cans of chiles or jalapenos if spice is desired, diced tomato, and tomato soup. Always rinse your beans in a colander with water before adding them to your chili because this has been known to reduce the gas induced by beans, the magical fruit. Add these ingredients to a large pot you have a lid for, along with a whole chopped onion and a chili seasoning packet from the grocery store. Your chili is likely chunky right now, but you can add water to your preference if you like because you added a can of tomato soup that’s meant to be diluted. Bring this mixture just a low boil with the lid on and then turn it down to medium while you cook the rest of the meal. Clean and hide the evidence (cans) in the recycling bins before someone follows their nose to the kitchen. With a Jiffy cornbread box, you can make an amazing and moist cornbread. I prefer to make them in muffin pans. Prepare the mix as directed on the box except add an entire can of cream-style corn and chopped jalapeno if spice is desired. When all is complete, offer your guests cheese and sour cream for chili topping and cold milk to cut the spice.

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