The reason we reach for convenience foods is because they’re, well, convenient. And they’re especially appealing during the back-to-school frenzy. But taking 20 minutes to do these three things at the beginning of the week (then storing them in the fridge until used) will set you up so that a fresh, healthy meal is the fastest choice of all.
- Cut the kernels off a half-dozen corn cobs. Husk and silk the corn, then snap the cob in half. Place the flat part down on a large cutting board and slice the kernels off in vertical strips (watch a Kitchen Tips video here). What to do with them: Oh, the possibilities! Christopher’s signature dish this summer was a simple saute of fresh corn kernels that become silky and sweet when cooked with onion and diced zucchini (got any of those on-hand these days? Har har). Try the Nourish Network version in this Sauteed Succotash. Pop raw kernels into South of the Border Steak Salad with Grilled Pepper and Corn Salsa and Corn and Quinoa Pasta Salad. Or heat them up in Spicy Corn Chowder with Sauteed Shrimp, Grilled Fish in Parchment with Cherry Tomatoes and Corn or Creamy Corn Polenta.
- Cook up a batch of whole grains. There’s a whole world to explore when it comes to whole grains, but it helps to have some pre-cooked and on-hand in the fridge. Some, like quinoa and bulgur, cook up super-quick. Others, like wheat berries and farro, take a bit longer. What to do with them: Scoop a cup of almost any whole grain into a green salad to make it a main meal. Bulgur makes a great binder too, as in our Zucchini Fritters and Spiced Lamb and Bulgur Sliders in Lettuce “Buns.” Or skip straight to dessert with your leftover bulgur in these Plum Parfaits with Bulgur and Vanilla Yogurt. A few scoops of wheat berries from the fridge will get you Wheat Berry Salad with Middle Eastern Spices and Grilled Tomatoes and Eggplant, and our Curry Quinoa Cakes are always a hit–in fact, try subbing the peas with corn (you’ve got some in the fridge, right?) this time of year.
- Dice an onion. Once you learn how to dice an onion (see a Kitchen Tips video here), it doesn’t take but a few seconds. Dicing one or two ahead of time to keep on hand in the fridge makes things even easier … and might just tip the scales when it’s “should I cook or call for takeout?” What to do with it: If you’re in a time-crunch, just crank up the heat under a large saute pan, drizzle in some oil and start sauteing. Then gather inspiration as you go. Have carrots and lentils on hand, for instance? Fabulous, then these All-Purpose French Lentils are all but done. If you want to keep it cool, toss your onions in a salad or dip, or a dish that acts like both … like our Guatemalan Avocado Salad with Arugula and Chile-Lime Dressing.
A little do-ahead goes a long way in helping you eat healthier throughout the week.