When shopping for quick and healthy grab and go items from your local grocery store, start by visualizing your plate: think about filling ¼ of it with lean protein, ½ with vegetables, and ¼ with either more vegetables or whole grains.
Explore your local supermarkets' prepared foods options online before you go. For example, a meal planner tool on Wegmans Food Markets website https://shop.wegmans.com/shop/categories/49 allows customers of this northeast/mid-Atlantic supermarket chain to plan ahead, showing different prepared meal combinations with cost, calories, and cups of vegetables.
Just about every grocery store including Whole Foods Markets, Walmart, Kroger, HEB, Safeway, etc. has a section devoted to pre-cooked/prepared grab-and-go options including chilled and deli foods, prepared salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, cut fruit, sushi, sides, pasta bowls, lunches, and heat-and-eat dinners to go. Think about buying a smaller portion size and adding a bag of mixed salad greens or chopped veggies and fruit.
Consider these healthy options: rotisserie chicken (skin removed) that can be added to salads or shredded for burritos and chicken salad; broth-based soups with lots of vegetables made from scratch; sushi, prepackaged salads with beans, chicken breast, eggs, veggies (watch the amount of dressing you use); hummus, veggie wraps.
*Avoid these: anything fried, pasta dishes especially mac and cheese, anything with a heavy sauce.
Quick and healthy 5-minute lunches:
1. Quinoa/Farro/Brown Rice plus Beans and Veggies: Buy a ready to eat shelf-stable quinoa/farro/brown rice meal found in the rice/dried grain aisle. Brands to look for: Cucina & Amore/Kitchen & Love or Earthly Grains. Pair with a Greek yogurt, pre-seasoned tofu or hard-boiled egg for added protein and add a bag of pre-washed veggies or a piece of fruit.
2. DIY Avocado Smoked Salmon Pita Pockets: Buy a pack of whole grain pita pockets, heat one in a microwave for 20-30 seconds, then add cold smoked salmon pieces and slices of avocado. Pair with pre-washed and chopped veggies like baby carrots or add a piece of fruit like an apple.
3. DIY Loaded Nut Butter Rice Cakes: Buy a bag of lightly salted rice cakes, a single serving packet of nut butter, a small banana, and a single serving cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg or pre-seasoned tofu. Spread the rice cake with the nut butter and top with banana slices and serve with the yogurt or protein of choice.
4. DIY Hummus Avocado Turkey Roll-Ups: Buy some nitrate free turkey meat, an avocado, a snack pack of hummus, and a package of sugar snap peas (or other veggie of choice). Lay 2 slices of turkey out flat, spread with the hummus, top with avocado slices, and roll up. Serve with the snap peas.
5. DIY Avocado Tuna Bowl: Buy a pouch of low sodium water packed tuna (or salmon), an avocado, a tomato, and pick up a packet of mustard from the deli. Add the mustard to the tuna and mix, slice the avocado in half and remove the seed and fill one half with the tuna. Top with tomato slices.
Quick and healthy 5-minute dinners:
1. Brown Rice & Quinoa with Protein of Choice and Steamed Vegetables: Buy a single serving microwaveable cup of brown rice & quinoa (e.g., Minute Rice brand), buy a bag of steam-in-the-bag fresh or frozen vegetables, and a fully cooked rotisserie chicken (remove the skin before eating)/pre-cooked piece of fish/ or pre-seasoned tofu pieces for a super quick and healthy nutritionally balanced meal.
2. Soup, Salad and Wrap: Buy a pre-made vegetable and/or bean soup, a bag of pre-washed salad, and a healthy wrap in the prepared foods section such as turkey meat, hummus, tofu, fish, or chicken.
3. Seafood Dinner: Go to the seafood counter and have them steam your shrimp or lobster right there. Or buy a piece of pre-seasoned fish or sushi and pick up a bag of steam-in-the-bag vegetables and pre-washed salad.