Nutrition Articles

Stay Consistent With the 'Go-To' Meal

Food for When You're Out of Ideas

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You open the fridge and panic sets in. The cupboards elicit a similar response. Same for the pantry. You have no time and have to come up with dinner – and fast. But what will satisfy your hunger without requiring an hour of prep time? In the final hope that something new and exciting will appear, you open the fridge door one last time.

Take a moment, take a deep breath and relax. Before you speed off to the drive-thru as an "easy" solution to fixing dinner, consider this: there are countless "Go-To" Meals that will make cooking swift and simple. When you’re at a loss for time and ideas, you can turn to these without much thought.

Go-To Meals allow you to put in minimal effort while maximizing taste and nutritional value. These meals are quick, easy, and can be a staple in your diet. Only a few ingredients are required, so preparation and clean-up don’t cut deeply into your hectic schedule.

To create your own Go-To Meal, start with a few of your favorite ingredients. You’ll learn to depend on them when you’re in a time crunch. On your next trip to the grocery store, stock up on easy foods that you can whip up in minutes.
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

Member Comments

  • My go to meal is fresh or leftover cooked vegetables, some rehydrated lentil or pea soup and feta cheese.
    The suggestions in this article are all loaded with carbs and rely too much on over packaged, over processed foods. Thank goodness the comments have better ideas! - 8/10/2015 10:06:00 AM
  • Great Comments! so helpful for where we live.

    My favorite go to is quick stir fry: chop and saute celery, carrots, peppers, onions, cabbabe in sesame oil, add light soy sauce, cooked brown rice, and any meat (beef, chicken, shrimp, egg) and rice vinegar. In minutes you have just gone to your local teriyaki place without any of the added sugar, salt, msg. etc. Filling, Yummy, and Fast. I may just have to go make some for lunch, but that bean/tomato soup above sounds good too. Thanks for the great reminders/ideas, - 7/29/2015 12:01:34 PM
  • My favorite dish when I go out for Chinese food is Egg Foo Yung. My current go to is based on this: I sautee 2 cups of shredded cabbage until it wilts and then add an egg or two on top. I stir the egg through the cabbage and then let it set until the egg in cooked through.

    To accentuate the Asian flavors, I add soy sauce and sherry or rice wine vinegar while sauteeing.

    This also works well to use up other veggies I have on hand. - 4/20/2015 4:01:02 PM
  • My go to meals choices: eggs, rice, zuchini and mushrooms, quesadillas, fish if have on hand. I like to have cooked chicken shredded on hand to use in salads, sandwiches, ect. - 3/2/2015 12:49:37 PM
    A few eggs and a little cheese make a great meal. - 8/11/2014 2:26:32 PM
    I like making a pita pocket stuffed with steamed broccoli, shredded cheese and a bit of salsa. And throw in some sour pickles. Also a green pepper boiled, cut top off, and put shredded chicken in with a spoonful of spaghetti sauce. And there's always a Healthy Choice boxed dinner, a good go to. Lower in sodium. - 1/12/2014 12:53:00 AM
  • Great article. Brown rice and broccoli and bake chicken. - 12/4/2013 5:26:58 PM
  • yeah this is the kind of article I like
    - 10/11/2012 2:55:03 PM
  • Tuna salad sandwich is a go-to for us. Pile it on a high fiber bread!

    Or, rub a little oil on a baked potato and rub a little sea salt on it. Bake in the oven so the skin is crispy and top it with Amy's Organic Black Bean Chili and a little low fat shredded cheddar. SUPER FILLING. - 11/5/2011 12:45:54 PM
    These are great ideas. My only concern is the sodium content of canned foods so this should not be something that is done regularly. - 10/3/2011 6:03:17 PM
  • I keep Fiber One wraps in the fridge and there are all kinds of things you can do with them. Yesterday I put Weight Watchers cream cheese with a little salsa and a handful of fresh spinach on a wrap. Yummy. Hummus works well in them. I also put Cabot 50% reduced fat cheese, cucumber slices, tomato slices, a squeeze of lemon and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. I really love adding argula or fresh spinach. This works on toasted whole wheat bread, too. Some of these things may sound strange, but as I've made changes toward healthy eating, I crave healthy food more now. Oh, and you can get individual servings of salmon in a pouch. I've put that in a wrap, too. lol - 7/27/2011 10:49:07 PM
  • Our favourite quick meal, especially in the summer is a veg. "taco" salad. Fresh spinach, (sometimes lettuce) and whatever other fresh salad veggies I have on hand: cucumber, tomatoes, avacado, bell peppers, olives. Next I crunch a few low-sodium corn chips on top, next a layer of beans (sodium-free black beans for hubby and I, baked for my kids, sometimes refried as a treat for my older child and I). The kids sometimes eat the veggies first and then use the chips whole to scoop up the beans. Hubby and I eat ours with salsa and a smaller drizzle of a naturally lower fat dairy-free dressing. This could of course be made with beef/chicken, cheese, and sour cream/plain yogurt. My kids LOVE this meal and they can both be very picky eaters, they have even learned to love spinach. Somtimes I'll put this into wraps instead of using the chips.

    A smoothie and WW toast or a WW toasted english muffin is another summer favourite. I buy lower sugar jams and spread the PB really thin.

    WW pita pizzas are really tasty and way quicker than making a crust from scratch. With a generous portion of sauce (I sometimes just use spaghetti sauce) and lots of fresh spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and sometimes pineapple I don't miss the cheese at all. (if you try this keep an eye on them as they burn easily).

    Tonight we had Schneider's Oh Natural "Chicken" burgers on WW burger buns, they are really tasty but high in sodium (and a bit pricy) so I don't serve them often.

    - 7/26/2011 12:53:07 AM

    I like the idea of keeping things stocked for an easy last minute meal. Sometimes it's fun to create a meal with what you have on hand. Then there are evenings when what I need is a no brainer meal idea. - 7/25/2011 10:11:42 PM
  • NANA717
    Great ideas! Thanks! I always have eggs on hand, can always do something with them, in a pinch. - 7/25/2011 10:48:54 AM
  • My quick go to meal is a protein fruit smoothie. Throw 1 cup of frozen strawberries and 1/4 cup blueberries in blender with cup of water and 1 scoop Supplement RX vanilla protein and it's a thick sweet smoothie! Very filling too. - 7/25/2011 10:36:25 AM

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