You know the drill. You get home from work after a long day, hungry and tired, only to look in the fridge and discover there’s nothing in there to make an easy (not to mention nutritious) dinner. Before you know it, you’ve ordered some mediocre takeout that isn’t doing your wallet or healthy eating plan any favours. Avoid this all-too-common situation by keeping your fridge stocked with these three strategic ingredients at all times. You’ll find that suddenly you have plenty of options for not just one, but many, weeknight meals.
Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Having a container of protein-packed nonfat Greek yogurt in the fridge opens up a whole world of meal-time opportunities when you’re running low on groceries.
- Use plain nonfat Greek yogurt for breakfast bowls, smoothies and parfaits by adding fresh, frozen or dried fruit and a small handful of oats, granola, nuts, and seeds (with an optional drizzle of honey or maple syrup as a sweetener).
- Add a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt to chili, hearty stews, tacos and curries to temper spicy flavours and provide extra creaminess.
- Blend Greek yogurt into creamy vegetable and bean soups for added richness without using heavy cream.
- Substitute nonfat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream in stroganoffs and other creamy pasta dishes, just make sure to add the yogurt once you’ve taken the sauce off the stove as high heat can cause the yogurt to separate.
A carton of eggs in the fridge means you’re just a few minutes away from a satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eggs are an incredibly versatile ingredient to have on hand and are a perfectly filling combination of protein and healthy fats. Besides the many ways eggs can be prepared on their own (poached, scrambled, crispy fried, hard-boiled or baked) a few simple additions can turn ordinary eggs into a delicious meal any time of the day.
- Make a green omelette by adding plenty of fresh herbs (parsley, chives, thyme, basil, and dill) and/or lightly steamed or sautéed greens (fresh or frozen spinach, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe or beet greens). Before adding the cooked greens, make sure they have been drained in a colander or using paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Have leftover roasted or stir-fried veggies? Warm them up in a skillet and top with crispy fried egg, a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and your favourite hot sauce or salsa.
- Make an easy frittata for the whole family by whisking together 6-10 eggs, stirring in crumbled feta, fresh goat cheese or another grated firm cheese. Add crumbled leftover turkey sausage or bacon, leftover cooked veggies, sliced tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, pesto or any other easily sourced ingredients you may have lying around the fridge or pantry. Pour into a glass baking dish or cast-iron skillet and bake at 350F until set (15-25 minutes depending on the size of the frittata).
A jar of salsa is so much more than a dip for tortilla chips. It can be used as a base for many simple yet substantial dishes that can be made quickly and easily on busy weeknights when the fridge looks bare.
- Make a cheater Tex-Mex version of “Eggs in Purgatory” using jarred salsa. Pour the salsa into a skillet, making small indentations for poaching the eggs. Crack the eggs into the holes and poach the eggs until set (if you have a lidded skillet this will speed up the process). Top with nonfat plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, and diced avocado (optional) and a light dusting of chili powder or smoked paprika. Serve alone or with crusty bread for dipping in the yolks.
- Combine a jar of salsa with your favourite cooked grain (white or brown rice, quinoa and bulgur all work well), a can of beans or refried beans, frozen veggies and top with grated cheese. Bake in a 350F for 25 minutes, run the casserole quickly under the broiler to brown the cheese before serving.
- Make your own baked potato bar at home by topping baked potatoes or yams with salsa and any other ingredients you can find in your fridge, freezer or pantry. Get creative with unexpected toppings such as canned tuna, leftover shredded turkey or chicken breast, cottage cheese, frozen or leftover veggies and scrambled or hard-boiled eggs.