The phrase “fast food” seldom evokes healthy images – in fact, the term often makes us think of the unhealthy nature of the food rather than the speed at which it’s served! For food that’s both fast and healthy, you don’t need to turn to your local restaurant chain. You can make food fast without the unhealthy connotations of “fast food”! Here are some tips and recipes.
1. Keep frozen foods like chicken breasts and fish (tilapia, salmon, etc.) on hand.
2. When you buy ground meat, form it into individual patties and freeze.
3. Double up on recipes that can be frozen, such as casseroles, macaroni and cheese, soups, and rice.
4. If you make your own chicken stock, freeze it in pint jars. For quick thawing, place in a pot of very warm water with a lid on it for about 10 minutes. This will at least thaw it enough to remove it from the jar and into the recipe.
5. Divide food into portions before freezing – cut large pieces of fish or meat into single or family-sized portions and wrap individually.
6. Frozen vegetables and fruits are said to have more nutrients than canned. Since fresh produce does not always factor into a homemade fast food menu, keep frozen veggies and fruits on hand. (You can also freeze your own.)
7. Fruits like apples and oranges and vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and celery make good “keepers” to have on hand.
8. Canned is okay sometimes and doesn’t have to be unhealthy – keep healthy non-perishables on hand, such as albacore tuna, fruit canned in its own juice, and low-sodium canned vegetables and beans.
9. Whole grain, store-bought pizza crust is handy to have in your pantry or freezer, or you can make your own pizza dough, form it into balls, and freeze until needed. You can also pre-bake pizza crusts and freeze them – complete with toppings – for an even faster pizza meal. Halved bagels and English muffins make good individual pizza crusts.
1. Baked Tilapia
This can be out of the freezer and onto plates in half an hour or even less.
* Frozen tilapia fillets (1 per family member)
* Lemon juice (count on half a lemon per fillet)
* Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 425. Place frozen fillets in a shallow baking dish; pour lemon juice over fish. Sprinkle top and bottom of fillets with salt. Sprinkle tops with paprika; dot with butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
2. Fast Burgers
Remember those patties you froze earlier? Break them out for this recipe! (You can also make veggie burger patties ahead and freeze those, too.) Make sure you use lean ground beef or ground turkey.
Ingredients (for 1 – multiply as needed per person):
* 1 patty
* 1 whole wheat hamburger bun (you can keep these frozen and on hand, too)
* 1 slice cheddar cheese
* 3 slices dill pickle
* Ketchup and mustard to taste
* “Fixings” on hand, such as lettuce, tomato, and/or onion
In a little olive or safflower oil, fry the patties until done. While they are frying, the bun can be thawing on each plate. Place patties on the buns and top with cheese; assemble the fixings as desired.
Variation: use frozen chicken breast halves instead of patties and melt Monterey Jack cheese on top; briefly sauté onions in a skillet before topping.