Healthier Plate

Quick and Easy Tips and Recipes for Weeknight Meals or Eating On-The-Go

Oct 31, 2017

By Sherri Creech, MA

My Favorite Tips for Weeknight Meals

Plan your meals.
Yes, it sounds easy, but we are all guilty of planning tonight’s dinner today! Make a plan for the week (or even 2). Plan a menu for the whole week!

Keep your favorite recipes organized.
I have a stack of recipes to try and recipes that are loved!  This helps me plan my meals (see #1). I will pick one night to be adventurous and try something new while the others are filled with foods l know I love. Having your recipes organized also helps with making your shopping list!

Find simple, go-to options.
My suggestions would be a bag of Normandy style veggies and add some chicken breast, sausage, or even shrimp! This makes for a no-fuss, quick meal that generally is loved! Some brands even have mixes that are stir fry veggies—just pick your favorite meat and add it to the mix!

Make big batches to use throughout the week.
My family eats a lot of chicken breast, so when I cook the first chicken breast meal of the week I make a huge batch! Sometimes up to 10 pounds at once! Then I will freeze some and put some in the fridge to make for quick grabs throughout the week. It’s good to add on salads, in veggies (see above), or even add your favorite sauce and a side of veggies—it’s kind of like a TV dinner (but better). If you freeze meat while it’s hot, it generally does not get dry when you reheat it later. Another batch item I like is roasted veggies. I will often make roasted veggies in large batches and serve with meals throughout the week. All I have to do is reheat in the microwave and if I like them somewhat crispy, I’ll throw them in the broiler for a few minutes! These are great to just grab and serve all week long!

Don’t make regular trips to the store – do your shopping once a week.
When you sit down to plan your meals for the week, make your grocery list at the same time. This may not be much fun but it cuts down on urges to buy more than what is needed and ultimately saves money!

The freezer is your friend.
I also use the freezer a lot when I want to make crockpot meals. Chop it all up, put it all in a baggie and freeze it. Sometimes I’ll just throw it in the crockpot frozen to cook (see #4). Another thing I do is freeze fresh cooked meat—this helps make it easy to have quick meals if needed. Sometimes our lives get busy and we get caught off guard. I often have a baggie of baked chicken breast “nuggets” sitting in my freezer. It’s easy to reheat them from frozen and add to veggies or any side you may have to make a complete meal.

Learn to love leftovers.
I use leftovers a lot for lunch! I’m not the biggest fan of leftovers especially when it’s all just shoved in the fridge and I have to get 100 things out to make a plate—I regularly separate leftovers out into individual containers and place in the fridge so I just have to grab one thing and everything is good-to-go! This also helps me to want to take leftoverst for lunch and not go out! Leftovers are also really good to recreate new meals. Sometimes I’ll make something like a pork loin, and then for whatever reason there end up being a lot of unplanned leftovers—the next day I might add some sauce and have bbq pork, or you could add some taco seasoning and make pork taco salad, etc.

Lazy days are OK.
We all have those days when we just don’t wanna! And this is ok. I even plan in a “blank” day for each week that allows me to have a no-fuss day. Sometimes I deem this leftover night or sometimes I’ll stop and get a rotisserie at the grocery store. The big point is just to make wise choices this day and avoid the drive thru.

On The Road Meal Ideas

  • Nuts (macadamia are the best)
  • Jerky (just watch the sugar)
  • Mighty Bars or Epic Bars (meat/jerky type bar)
  • Bars (quest, Think thin high protein, Power crunch)
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Celery/apple and nut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • Seeds (i.e. pumpkin)
  • Protein shakes
  • Cheese sticks/string cheese
  • PB2
  • Cottage cheese
  • Low-sodium cold cut meats
  • Tuna pouches
  • Freeze dried veggies
  • Avocado
  • Olive packs (green, black, Greek)
  • Hardboiled eggs

Example Menu

Week 1

Stuffed quesadilla pepper

Taco salad


Sloppy Joe

Enchilada casserole

Leftover or I just don’t wanna night

Week 2

Chicken with sauce *baste chicken in bbq and serve with veggies or add an Asian sauce and eat over broccoli slaw*

Burrito bowls

Meatballs with zucchini and squash


Chicken pizza

Cobb salad

Leftover or I just don’t wanna night

Be sure to read your labels. Pre-made sauces tend to have a lot of sugar. You can find good ones if you look or make your own.


Chicken Sausage Vegetable Bake


  • Large bag of Normandy blend vegetables (I use Birds Eye)
  • Sausage (I use Pederson’s Farm brand at Sprouts. You can use smoked sausage or Kielbasa-sort of spicy)
  • Chicken breast (I usually use whatever is left over from another night. If nothing is leftover, I’ll make this ahead of time to save time.)


  • Cook vegetables per package instructions.
  • Add in sausage and pre-cooked chicken (if needed cook chicken while veggies cook).
  • Mix all around add any seasonings that sound yummy I like garlic and onion powder or any season all type stuff).
  • Put in the oven on 350 about 30-45 mins or until everything is warm.

If I’m in a time crunch, I’ll heat everything up separately in the microwave then add it all to one serving dish for serving.

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers


  • Shredded or chopped chicken breast
  • Taco seasoning
  • Peppers (I like poblano but you could use bell here too)
  • Whatever other veggies you think would be yummy in here
  • Grated cheese (optional)
  • Desired toppings (cilantro, avocado, sour cream)


  • Put shredded chicken with 1 cup water and taco seasoning in skillet and let simmer until warm and flavor is in the chicken.
  • Cut peppers in half lengthwise (if using poblano) or cut off tops (if using bell).
  • Fill peppers with chicken and whatever veggies you desire.
  • Sprinkle top with cheese (optional).
  • Cook pepper @ 350⁰ until pepper is to desired tenderness.
  • Top with what you like: avocado, sour cream etc.

Lazy Recipe: Taco Salad


  • 1 pound meat (ground beef or shredded chicken)
  • McCormick’s Taco Seasoning (make according to package)


  • Brown meat and season with taco seasoning.
  • Add over a bed of kale, spring mix, or spinach or all of these
  • Top with salsa, avocado, cheese, sour cream, cilantro—whatever you like!

I let the kids have a tortilla if they fuss a lot.

Lazy Recipe: Meatloaf

I buy McCormick’s seasoning and mix as per package, omitting the bread crumbs and using only 1 egg. Sometimes I’ll add sauteed onions inside, but otherwise it’s basic meatloaf. Got kids that think “yuck” meatloaf?  Give them a burger patty instead. Make them a few patties (out of the same meat they’ll never know).

Sloppy Joes


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 can tomato paste (small 6 oz.)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Green chilies (optional)


  • Brown the ground beef.
  • Strain and add all other ingredients to the pan.
  • Simmer until blended well.

You can make the “sauce” ahead. Simply add all ingredients but beef into jar for later use. Brown the meat, then add the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Eat over a salad, in a pepper or alone!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole Recipe


  • 4 cups pre-cooked chicken, shredded or 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • avocado, diced
  • tomato, diced
  • 4 cups mixed greens, chopped

Ingredients for enchilada sauce:

  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water or clear broth
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 375⁰ F.
  • In a saucepan placed over a medium heat, stir together the tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Combine the chicken, bell pepper, red onion, and half of the green onions in a baking dish.
  • Pour the enchilada sauce on top and mix everything together.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  • Add mixed greens before serving.

Sometimes, I’ll layer this with 2 or 3 corn tortillas (between meat sauce) like lasagna, add a little cheese, and omit the greens. Great topped with guacamole or salsa!

Simple BBQ Sauce


  • 1 can tomato paste (6oz)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4  cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened 100% apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder (see note below)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
  • a few dashes hot sauce to taste (I like Trader Joe’s hot pepper sauce)

NOTE:  Chipotle Powder can be a little hard to find—l got the whole dried pepper in the bulk spice section at Sprouts or Whole Foods and put it in a cleaned out coffee grinder to make it a powder (I don’t have a spice grinder). It’s worth it! It adds a wonderful smokey flavor, but if you can’t find it that’s okay!


Whisk all ingredients together and store in a mason jar in the fridge. It should stay good to use on all your BBQ’s favorites for about one month.

Chicken Stir Fry


  • Chicken (if I have leftovers I use it here, if not I recommend cooking chicken in advance)
  • 1 large bag of Asian style vegetables ( I use Bird’s Eye- they also have one that comes with a teriyaki sauce if you want to use that instead follow directions on bag.)
  • Omit below if using packaged sauce:
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos, braggs aminos, or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp siracha sauce (you can work up, if you like more, by taste)
  • Olive for sautéing


  • In a cast iron pan or wok heat up oil of your choice.
  • Add in precooked chicken and bag of vegetables until vegetables are of desired consistency.
  • Add in aminos or soy sauce.
  • Slowly add siracha sauce until desired heat level.
  • Remove from heat and eat.
  • You can eat as is or you can add to a lettuce wrap.

Burrito Bowl


  • 2 tbsp avocado oil, olive oil can be substituted
  • 3 cups of broccoli slaw found in produce department
  • 1 cup of chopped onions bell pepper, and celery (1total)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of diced green chilies
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • Cilantro chopped for garnish


  • Sauté broccoli slaw, onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of avocado oil for 5-8 minutes. Set aside when crisp tender.
  • Brown beef. Add tomatoes, green chilies, and spices. Stir to combine. Add a little water if needed.
  • Assemble bowls. Put a layer of veggies, top with meat sauce. Then top with cilantro. Other toppings could include, salsa, green onions, avocado, jalapenos, kale or spinach.



  • 2 pounds beef or pork (or l pound ground of each)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrots
  • 2 loosely packed cups of spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbspItalian seasoning


  • Preheat oven to 350⁰ F.
  • Combine all ingredients, mix well.
  • Portion out the meat and roll into meatballs.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (keep an eye on them depending on the size they may cook at different times).

Enjoy over your choice of side or noodle substitute (I use tomato sauce with Italian seasoning by Contadina and put over roasted zucchini or in zucchini boats. You could also do zoodles or spaghetti squash.)

My Version of Gumbo


  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 lb sausage, cut into rounds
  • 1 cup chicken stalk
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery  stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen okra
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes (drained)
  • Cajun seasoning  to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano


Throw it all in a crock pot (except shrimp add this the last 30 mins of cooking) on low for the day or throw it into a large pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.

The Best Low Carb Chicken Pizza Crust
Author: Hey Keto Mama
Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 pound ground chicken thigh (more flavor/fat than ground chicken breast)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated (powdered) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup frozen spinach (optional)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400 ⁰ F.
  • In large bowl mix ground chicken thigh, cheese and seasoning.
  • Thaw spinach and remove excess water with paper towel or cheesecloth, add to mixture.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and press chicken mixture into even thin layer.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top with desired toppings ( I used red onion, cilantro, chicken, bacon and sugar-free bbq sauce!).
  • Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and brown.
  • If using ground chicken breast, reduce cooking temperature to 375 and reduce cooking time to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Add additional time after toppings until cheese is melted and golden, being careful not to overcook.
  • Once pizza cools a bit, it can be picked up like regular crust.

If mixture seems too wet, add more grated parmesan. I used freshly ground chicken thigh so there was less moisture. If you’re using a roll of chicken, it could be more wet and need extra cheese. Personalize it with your favorite toppings and seasonings in the crust as well. Separate into 4-6 and freeze chicken crust (no toppings) individually for quick meal.

Chicken Salad

When I do this meal, I eat a salad and the kids eat chicken nuggets so I make extra “nuggets.” For this meal I cook chicken breast and cut into baked “nuggets.”

Salad Ingredients:

  • chicken breast (cubed or chopped)
  • chopped and peeled mini cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • hard boiled eggs
  • avocado
  • your favorite greens ( I like a spinach, kale, and spring mix)
  • garnish with green onion


Chop and mix all above together for the salad. Sometimes I like to add balsamic vinaigrette; walnuts, almonds, or pecans; and dried cranberries.

Salad Dressing

This is great for creating a small amount of a great dressing for any salad greens, but mesclun greens seem to go with this really well.


  • 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • Combine olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a mason jar or container with a tight-fitting lid; cover tightly with the lid and shake vigorously until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Taste dressing and adjust flavor with salt and pepper.

About the Author
Sherri started her weight loss journey in 2010 and has successfully kept 70 pounds off. She is a Patient Care Advocate at Nicholson Clinic and has worked in bariatrics for 8 years, in various roles. She is married with three children, enjoys talking recipes and tips and is perfecting her cooking game. She enjoys about any kind of fitness (except running), especially weight training and cardio.