Eating healthy meals to stay lean year round doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. I try to keep it as simple as possible, but yet delicious and nutritious. While everyone has their personal tastes and likes or dislikes, there are some basics everyone can follow to create these low-cost meals. Once you found yours, you will never turn away.
1. Simple Whole Ingredients
First, let’s keep it simple. That means, I don’t need a complex recipe I need to study and follow. Just give me the ingredients, put it in a pan, cook it and eat it. Yes, that’s the simplicity I like. You usually can exactly identify what is on my plate. I keep it to 3-4 key ingredients in it’s whole form, e.g. Fish, Broccoli and Potato. I avoid processed food, that means I skip the aisles with packaged food. That makes it easy to track and estimate nutrients and calories. The more things you mix together, the more complex it is in the end to understand how much you actually ate, hence I try to keep my food separated.
2. Ratio 1:1:2 for All Meals
Next thing to keep in mind is the ratio of ingredients, Again, let’s keep it simple: 1 quarter Carbs, 1 quarter Protein source, half of the plate is reserved for greens and non-starchy veggies. You can see why it is so important to keep the ingredients simple as mentioned in step 1, so that it is easy to keep the ratios right.
Set yourself up for success and have your basic ingredients ALWAYS in the house. This way there is no excuse that I have no time or I’m not in the mood to run to the grocery store. This may be difficult with fresh veggies, but I simply keep my freezer, fridge and pantry stacked by buying in bulk whenever possible. Here are the basic I always keep on hand:
In the Freezer:
- Frozen Veggies like Broccoli, Corn, Cauliflower, Peas, Cut Beans, Stir-fry mix (plain-no sauce/ spices added)
- Frozen Starchy Veggies: Diced hash brown Potatoes or Hash Browns shredded potatoes (plain-no oil or spices added),
- Frozen Meat: Chicken Breast, Chicken Legs, Beef
- Frozen Seafood: Flounder, Tilapia, Cod, Catfish, Shrimp
In the Fridge:
- Greek Yoghurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Almond Milk
- Grated dried Parmesan Cheese
- Honey Mustard
- Hot sauce (Tabasco)
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- Corn Tortillas
- Diced Jalapenos
In the Pantry:
- Spray Oil (Canola Oil and Olive Oil)
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Sesame Oil
- Spices (Paprika, Garlic, Salt, Cumin, Curry, Cinnamon, Brown Sugar)
- Corn or Rice Cakes
- Self-made Granola
- Canned diced tomatoes with chilies
- Potatoes (I find potatoes most fulfilling with the least calories compared to rice, quinoa or noodles)
- Tomato sauce
- Pumpkin seeds
4. Skip the Sauce
In general, I try to avoid any ready out of the bottle sauces because they have too many additives and sugar and often are high in calories. Sticking to juicy simple ingredients is usually all it takes to have a delicious moist meal. Tomato sauce is my only exception and can be used as the base for many dishes.
With these tips in mind, here is an inspiration of my favorite meals. Yours may look slightly different based on your taste, but you will get the point. Pair these meals with healthy habits and you will see the results in no time.
Simple, Healthy Meals Inspiration
Tilapia or Shrimps , Broccoli in Parmesan, Hash Brown Shredded Potatoes
Crystal clear example of simple ingredients, fixed ratios. This is my go-to meal whenever I have nothing fresh in the house because all ingredients come from the freezer.
Fresh Steelhead Trout/ Salmon with Zucchini Noodles, potatoes
The zucchini noodles are very easy to prepare yourself with a cheap vegetable slicer. There is really no need to buy these expensive prepacked veggie noodles.
Chicken Leg, Vegetables, Potato
The chicken legs are quickly cooked in a deep pan with a closed lid. On the side, frozen veggies and potatoes.
Chicken Breast, Southwest Salad with Corn
Chicken Breast. The Salad is simply made out of spring mix salad/ iceberg lettuce/ romaine hearts, corn (frozen), tomatoes, dices jalapenos, cucumbers and spiced with garlic, honey mustard, Balsamic vinegar, Olive oil (Spray).
Eggplant Burger with Baked Russet Potatoes (Weekend-treat)
This may take a little longer because it takes a little to bake the potatoes (around 30min) on a sheet prepared with oil spray. The eggplant is cut in thin long slices and also baked in the oven. The eggplant is used as substitute for the burger buns which you will not miss at all.
Perfect for a Friday/ Weekend night. Shrimps with corn tortilla chips and tomato/cilantro mix.