Janice Stanger, PhD

Janice Stanger, PhD

Posted November 7, 2010

Published in Food

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Not-Recipes for Not-Meals

Read More: convenience, cooking, recipes, whole foods

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vegetables assorted_opt.jpgCooking from scratch with fresh ingredients is the gold standard for healthy plant-based eating. Tips to make cooking more enjoyable simplify this process. But some nights even the most undemanding recipes are out-of-reach. You are running late at work and get home tired and distracted. Traffic was a hassle. Maybe you have less than an hour to make dinner, eat, clean up, and run out for another commitment. Even on weekends, you can be squeezed for time as you bounce from one commitment to the next.

Don't despair. Even in these stressful situations, you can have healthy, satisfying food. You do not need to settle for a fast food chain, take-out with uncertain ingredients, or running on empty.

The secret is to jazz up grocery store convenience items with your own fresh add-ins. You don't need a recipe. Once you get the knack of doing this, you'll never lack for ideas.

The trick is to select the healthiest convenience items when you shop and always keep a few in your house. Here are some ideas.

• Soup in a box. Many brands offer soup bases you can pour from a box, using just the quantities you want.
• Canned soup and chili
• Jarred or canned tomato-based pasta sauce
• Frozen ravioli, gnocchi, or entrees
• Veggie burgers and dogs
• Cold or hot cereal

Okay, you are probably wondering, how can this possibly be healthy? Everyone knows prepared foods are almost always too salty, may contain added oils, and possibly other preservatives as well. Keep two things in mind. One is that some prepared foods are healthier than

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