Quick Tips: Making Fast, Healthy Meals

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Making healthy meals doesn't have to take a lot of time or require complicated recipes. There are many ways you can save time in the kitchen and still eat delicious, healthy food. It's just a matter of having the right foods on hand and learning how to take shortcuts in the kitchen.

  • Stock up on ingredients for quick meals.

    Keeping commonly used foods in your kitchen can help you pull together a quick meal in no time. Having frozen and canned foods and foods with a long shelf life is helpful for those nights when you haven't had time to go to the grocery store. Some basic ingredients to have are:

    • Frozen chicken breasts and fish fillets.
    • Frozen vegetables.
    • Frozen and canned fruits.
    • Vegetable or chicken broth.
    • Canned beans, such as pinto beans, white beans, and black beans.
    • Tomato sauce and pasta sauce.
    • Whole-grain pasta.
    • Brown rice.
    • Onions and garlic.
  • Let the store do the prep work.

    You can find many foods already cut, washed, and ready to eat, such as:

    • Packaged, ready-to-eat fresh vegetables. Examples include baby carrots, salad mixes, and chopped broccoli and cauliflower. These are great for making quick salads, soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.
    • Packaged, presliced fresh fruits. Examples include melon and pineapple. You can add these to a container of low-fat yogurt to make an easy fruit salad.
    • Precut, trimmed meat. Trimmed meat has less fat. And meat that has already been cut into strips or cubes cuts down on your preparation time.
    • Precooked chicken. Most grocery stores sell roast chicken in the deli section. You can chop or shred the cooked chicken and use it as a filling in burritos, soups, and casseroles.
  • Make "almost homemade" meals.

    Start with one or two prepared ingredients, and then add your own fresh ingredients. Here are some ideas:

    • Pizza. Use a premade pizza crust and a jar of pizza sauce. Add plenty of fresh vegetables and a sprinkle of low-fat mozzarella.
    • Vegetable soup. Combine canned chicken broth, a bag of frozen vegetables, and some uncooked rice or pasta.
    • Asian chicken salad. Combine grilled chicken breast slices with a bag of prewashed lettuce, canned mandarin orange slices, and slivered almonds. Add a store-bought ginger-soy vinaigrette.
    • Fish tacos. Use frozen fish fillets, such as cod, and bagged shredded cabbage. Place the cooked fish and the cabbage in corn tortillas. Top with salsa, lime juice, and low-fat sour cream.
    • Stir fry. Use precut vegetables, precut and trimmed meat, and canned pineapple chunks. Serve with steamed rice.


Current as of: September 20, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.