Faster-Than-Takeout Dinners: Tips & Recipes (cont.)
It takes most types of pasta about eight minutes to cook -- pretty handy on a busy weeknight. I always have ravioli or tortellini in my freezer, along with dried pasta in my pantry, and I end up serving a pasta dish at least once a week.
If you try this option, try to find a whole-wheat blend or multigrain pasta that your family likes to up your fiber intake. You can choose from several convenient sauces, too -- bottled marinara, frozen or bottled pesto sauce, all in various flavors. You can even toss up a main dish pasta salad using a light bottled vinaigrette dressing.
Starting Time: 6:30 p.m. Start water boiling in large saucepan for the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare whatever ingredients you will be featuring in your pasta dish. If you'll be serving your marinara sauce with a healthier sausage (like less-fat, diagonally sliced turkey polska kielbasa) start cooking it in a nonstick skillet coated lightly with canola cooking spray. If you'll be adding cooked shrimp, diced tofu, or shredded chicken instead, get it ready now.
When the water boils, add the pasta noodles (like Barilla Plus Angel Hair) and set your timer for seven or eight minutes (or whatever the package directions say). While the pasta cooks, prepare your side dishes: micro-steam the veggies and wash and cut the fruit.
Drain the pasta, then put it back in the saucepan, and add whatever sauce you're using (straight from the jar) along with your meat or meat alternative. Stir, cover the saucepan, and heat your pasta mixture for a couple of minutes over LOW heat. Serve with veggies and fruit.
End Time: 6:50 p.m.
Faster-Than-Takeout Option 3: Nacho Night
Here's the timeline; more specifics are in the recipe below.
Start Time: 6:15 p.m. Open a can of fat-free refried (or vegetarian) beans and heat it in a pan with a couple tablespoons of taco seasoning (available in packets at your grocery store).
6:18 p.m.: Start getting the rest of your toppings ready. You might try:
6:22 p.m.: Arrange a serving of reduced-fat tortilla chips on a microwave-save plate. Top the chips with spoonfuls of the beans, a blanket of cheese, then whatever veggie-type toppings you're using. Microwave on HIGH for a minute. Garnish with sour cream, salsa, or similar, then repeat with remaining servings.
End Time: 6:28 p.m.
2 More Options
Here are a couple of more faster-than-takeout ideas to take you through the rest of the week:
Easy Mu Shu
Journal as: 1 cup vegetables without added fat + 1 slice bread + 1 serving lean meat without added fat
I literally pulled this dish together in 10 minutes!
1 tablespoon canola oil
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving (with shrimp): 283 calories, 18.5 g protein, 35.5 g carbohydrate, 7.8 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 163 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 460 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 25%.
Baked Potato Bar
Journal: as 1 cup "hearty stews, chili, bean soup" OR 3/4 cup "starchy foods without added fat" + 1 oz "low-fat cheese."
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