fast dinners

Here’s a Quick Way to Eat a Healthy Dinner

What meal do you struggle with the most when it comes to eating healthy and losing weight?

For me it’s always been late afternoon/nighttime eating. I don’t know why. I do pretty well throughout the day. I eat a healthy breakfast, snack, lunch, and then 3 or 4pm rolls around and I want to munch on candy at work. Then after dinner I get the munchies and want dessert. It’s easy to get sucked into a routine of nighttime eating if I’m not careful. Checkout some of my old posts about snacking:

Smart Snacking Tips

Nighttime Eater

Snacking is Not Bad

If you’re like me, the mindless munching and snacking is also your downfall when it comes to staying on track. So what do we do about it?

Have Healthy Options Available

It’s pretty simple: if you don’t have junk food in your house, you probably won’t eat it. If it takes too much effort to go to the store to buy some junk food, I just don’t want to bother. So it goes to reason that if you have healthy foods in your house, that’s what you will eat. Make it easy for yourself!

Frozen salmon and shrimp – we buy them at Costco and freeze them. It takes 20 minutes to defrost them and it’s usually our go-to fast dinner.

Frozen chicken – also bought at Costco. We fluctuate between chicken thighs and boneless, skinless breasts. Michael is pretty good about taking proteins out of the freezer each week and they defrost in the fridge for a quick dinner.

Canned soups – soup and salad are my go-to meals when I’m home alone or just feeling lazy. I have cans and boxes of soup on hand always and it makes it an easy dinner for not a ton of calories. I like getting the boxes of soup from Trader Joe’s; they are healthy, delicious, low in calories and usually organic.

One thing I wish I could do is something I’ve been seeing on the internet lately. People are making crockpot meals, putting them in a ziplock with instructions listed on the bag, freezing them and when it’s time to cook it they defrost it and dump it in the crockpot. It sounds like such an easy, efficient thing to do to make sure I have healthy options available for QUICK meals. Some bloggers are even doing it for an entire month! The problem? We have a tiny freezer and no room to do that. Someday I will do it, though!

Take 1 Hour to Prep

I usually go grocery shopping on Sundays and I spend about 30-60 minutes after I unpack everything to prep. It’s so much easier to just get it out of the way and have everything READY for the week. I slice celery and carrots and put them in tupperware, I wash all the fruit and sometime make pre-packaged serving sizes of snacky things (Wheat Thins, dried fruit, nuts, etc).

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Make it an Easy Formula

Long ago, Michael and I seemed to naturally fall into a simple formula for dinner:

PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + SALAD

Now make your own formula. It doesn’t have to be exactly like what we do. Maybe it’s something like this:

PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + RICE/POTATOES
PROTEIN + VEGETABLE + FRUIT
PROTEIN + SALAD + CARB 

So what are some examples? It could really be an endless list. There are so many healthy options you can choose if you just put a little time in to meal planning. 

Grilled halibut with mango salsa, a green salad and a baked potato

Blackened chicken breast with quinoa and steamed carrots

A serving of spaghetti noodles with marinara, homemade turkey meatballs and a spinach salad

Whatever works for YOU. Maybe you hate rice, try couscous. Maybe you are vegetarian, try alternatives.

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The point is to figure out your formula and STICK TO IT. You can come up with a million variations and having something basic like this really does make it easy. It makes it easy to cook, it makes it easy to calculate calories, and it makes it easy to grocery shop if you’re buying pretty much the same things each week.

Recipes don’t have to be complicated. Dinners really CAN take less than 20 minutes to prepare. Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring–in fact, it makes it so much easier to go grocery shopping and stay within a budget when you have a plan.

What are your quick and healthy dinners?

Lemon and Garlic Scallops

We’ve had scallops in the freezer from Costco for awhile now. The reason why we haven’t cooked them is because neither Michael nor I know how to cook scallops. Which sucks, because I love scallops and order them in a restaurant whenever it’s an option.

I decided it was TIME. We just have to learn or fail. Either way, we’re never going to figure it out if we don’t at least try. That’s the funny thing about cooking: it can go horribly bad, but it takes practice to get better. Time to suck it up.

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I’m surprised that the calorie count is so high for a seafood. Especially considering bacon wasn’t involved in this recipe (darn it). Maybe it’s the butter that makes it high? Oh well. Scallops are awesome.

I steamed some broccoli and made salads while Michael cooked the scallops.

It was fast. I think maybe 3 minutes total for the scallops. He seared them seasoned with salt and pepper, then added the garlic and I squeezed the lemon over the skillet to add the lemon juice.

The scallops looked perfect! We dug in and they were absolutely delicious. They were prepared perfectly–not raw or overcooked (chewy). My fork cut through the scallops like it was soft butter.

The flavors of the garlic, lemon and butter was fantastic. The scallops themselves were mild in flavor. I am so excited that this recipe turned out so wonderfully! Scallops will become a regular in our dinner rotation.

The other bonus: scallops are super fast to cook. Dinner took probably 15 minutes from start to finish and the part that took the longest was mincing the garlic. 🙂

Definitely give this one a try!

QUESTION: Can you cook scallops? How do you prepare them?