If you’re short on time when it comes to prepping meals and snacks, you’re not alone. Research from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the average American spends about 37 minutes per day on food preparation and clean up. Divide that between each eating occasion and one thing’s certain: food prep in today’s world has to be fast, no-nonsense, healthful and delicious.
By pre-planning and centering meals and snacks around convenient produce picks, you can whip up balanced combinations to keep you nourished throughout the day. Get started now with these quick-fix meal and snack inspirations.
Start Your Day
Canned Pumpkin – If you traditionally only use this ingredient for pumpkin pie, it’s time to think beyond the holidays! Make scrumptious pumpkin pancakes by whisking together 1 cup complete pancake mix, ¾ cup milk and 1/3 cup pumpkin puree. Add a dash of pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract for extra flavor boost.
Frozen Berries – Don’t be intimidated to make from-scratch smoothies because this breakfast-on-the-go is easier to whip up than you might think. Measure 1½ cups of your favorite frozen berry combinations and place them in plastic storage bags in the freezer. When you’re ready to prepare your smoothie, place one bag of pre-measured berries in a blender with ½ pack soft tofu, 1 1/3 cups 100% orange juice and 2/3 cup milk. Sweeten with a touch of agave or honey and blend to serve for two.
Fuel Your Adventures
Dried Fruit – Trail mix is the ultimate DIY snack and combining favorite ingredients is an easy way to ensure each family member loves their unique blends. Simply combine dried fruits, whole grains and nuts or seeds with a bit of chocolate, if desired. If mixing up a big batch, portion into individual containers so they’re ready to go when you are. Experiment with options like raisins, walnuts, dried banana chips and corn square cereal or dried mango, flaked coconut, toasted oat cereal, white chocolate chips and peanuts for sure-to-please combinations.
Color Your Plate
Spiralized Vegetables – Whether you’re in the mood for butternut squash, beets, zucchini or sweet potato, you will find them in hassle-free spiralized form in your Produce Department. Sauté zucchini noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan, then pair with shrimp or seared scallops. Or, sauté sweet potato noodles then simmer with enchilada sauce, canned corn and black beans with a topping of shredded cheese for another fast prep meal idea.
Bagged Lettuce Mixes – This one might be pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how many satisfying meal combinations can begin with bagged lettuce mixes. Instead of traditional pesto, pulse pre-washed arugula in place of basil for a twist on pasta night. Grilling up steaks? Serve it sliced over a bed of spinach with crumbled Bleu cheese and your favorite vinaigrette.