These are busy times for many of us: School, Work, Holidays, Life…. The list can seem endless at times.  One glance at the internet or Facebook can be overwhelming with all the recipes, meal planning ideas and seemingly perfect meals people get on their dinner tables each and every night.

I will be honest, sometimes just getting dinner on the table at our house is a feat in itself.  Needless to say, sometimes we all need a little help with dinner.  I have found that having a pantry/freezer stocked with my go-to staples can make a HUGE difference in what type of meal makes it to the table.  I thought I would share some of the items I keep on hand to help speed up meal preparation.  Although they are not 100% home-made, a quick glance at the ingredient label indicates they are healthy and nutritious. When looking at the label, try to stick to the 5 ingredient or less rule and opt for items with ingredients you would have in your own kitchen.


SPAGHETTI SAUCE  – Check grams of sugar and aim for 6 grams or less

FROZEN BROWN RICE and QUINOA– This is HUGE in our house.  I get the Trader Joe’s brand but have recently noticed it is now available in many grocery stores. Be sure to check the quinoa label for added ingredients you may not want.

FROZEN VEGGIES – Nutritionally very similar to fresh veggies and SO easy to add to soups, stews and casseroles.  I always am sure to have a bag or two of frozen peppers and onions in the freezer along with chopped spinach and fire roasted corn.

CANNED LEGUMES – Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans etc… As long as you rinse them in a colander for a minute or two to wash off the sodium, you are good to go. Terrific source of fiber and lean protein and much easier than soaking your own beans.

CANNED TOMATOES – Stewed, Chopped, Diced….  Excellent source of lutein and they add tons of flavor to soups, stews and casseroles.

TUNA – Quick and easy source of protein.

FROZEN BERRIES – Berries are a wonderful source of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins.  Toss into plain greek yogurt or a smoothie for added color and taste!

HOMMUS AND SALSA – Great for snacks and when company drops by and you need a quick appetizer.  Again, check label for added sugars and salt.

Here is a Delicious Meal I tossed together this weekend after a long day at baseball and lacrosse

MELODIOUS Chicken and Veggies

1 pound browned ground chicken

1 package Trader Joes Melodious Mix (This can be found in the freezer section and is a mixture of lentils, garbanzo beans and veggies.  1 cup = 12 grams protein, 11 grams fiber and only 3 grams of sugar)

2 cups frozen peppers and onions

1/2 cup frozen roasted corn

Chopped Spinach (this is optional depending on your families taste preference)

Toss the cooked ground chicken with remaining ingredients, heat and season with black pepper

I tossed some feta cheese on top before serving

DELICIOUS! and so easy.