Time is a precious resource these days and it can be tempting to save time by skimping on meals. Resist the temptation to skimp on ingredients that add nutrition and flavor (like veggies, fruits, and protein-rich foods) and instead try our super efficient ways to make meals more nutritious…without taking up a lot of time.
Not only do spices allow you to add major flavor to a meal with relatively little effort, but they’re also packed with antioxidants. Using spices also reduces the amount of salt you need to use, since you’re adding flavor via spices and won’t need to depend on saltiness as much.
Our go-to spices are typically cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and ginger (Here’s a chicken skillet recipe that uses this spice combo). It’s also fun to experiment, or you can pick up a salt-free spice blend from the store and use that!
Use shredded veggies.
While the thought of adding big chunks of veggies to a meal might seem a little daunting, shredded veggies slip into meals effortlessly. Plus, you don’t need to cook them! Add shredded carrot to a tuna, egg, or chicken salad, or stir it into guacamole. Pack shredded beets into a sandwich. Sprinkle shredded broccoli onto a pizza before baking.
You can add shredded veggies to almost any meal. Designating a prep day where you break out a food processor or mandoline to do the shredding for you can be a great option for having shredded veggies at the ready. You can also buy pre-shredded carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli slaw to save even more time during especially busy weeks / weekends.
Deliver crunch with nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds are loaded with an wide assortment of nutrients, from vitamin E and omega 3 fats to selenium and iron. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over a greed salad, add sesame seeds to a veggie slaw, make a walnut crust for salmon (like these Crunchy Walnut-Crusted Salmon Fillets), or use ground almonds to bread chicken tenders. Nuts and seeds add texture, flavor, and nutrition to meals.
Protein is typically the first thing to go when you’re rushing to put together a fast meal, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Hard boil a few eggs on the weekend to grab for fast protein that you can use to top avocado toast or turn into a sandwich. Keep pre-cooked pieces of chicken in the freezer to microwave when you need them in a hurry. Keep canned beans on hand to rinse and toss into a salad or soup. Keep cans or packets of Solid White Albacore Tuna in your pantry to add in salads, sandwiches or even pasta. Find out which types of canned tuna works best with what recipes with this crash course to albacore tuna and chunk tuna.
Experiment with sweet + savory combos.
Adding chopped up fresh or dried fruit to savory dishes not only adds a new dimension of flavor, it also adds vitamins, minerals, and fiber. We love tossing berries into a salad with balsamic dressing, adding dried apricots to a curry dish, stirring dried cranberries into rice or quinoa, or making a fresh fruit salsa for fish, chicken, or tofu using jalapeno and peaches. We love this creative Cherry Caprese Pasta Salad dish from dietitian Kara Golis RD that uses summer cherries in a surprisingly delicious way.