Make-ahead meals and go-to snacks are always a smart choice during the fun-filled days of summer. With a little forethought, you can enjoy home-prepared, portable dishes and snacks for desktop lunches, dinner at home or a day at the lake or theme park.
What could be easier than grilled chicken atop a summer produce-packed salad? For variety, try different greens or combinations of greens including romaine, baby arugula, spinach and/or kale. Topped with an assortment of ingredients and served with low-fat dressing, no-cook healthy eating never tasted so good. For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken and add kidney, cannellini or black beans.
Some of our favorite toppings include:
- halved cherry tomatoes
- shredded carrots
- sliced red or green onions
- reduced fat feta, mozzarella or Cheddar cheese
- dried fruits (figs, cherries, cranberries or apricots)
- sliced hard-cooked eggs
A chopped salad is another easy, on-the-go option. Chop and toss together 2 each cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and avocados (chop just before serving), 1/2 red onion and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Just before serving, toss with 1 pound of cooked shrimp and the juice of 2 limes mixed with 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive or avocado oil. Once tossed, this chopped salad can also be combined with spicy tomato juice for a refreshing, chunky gazpacho.
Whole grain tortillas, flat breads and pita pockets are great to keep on hand. Spread them with hummus mixed with prepared pesto or spinach artichoke dip, and then add your favorite fillings like sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, red onions, radishes or tomatoes. Or, fill your bread of choice with ricotta cheese or nut butter, sliced fruit and honey for something sweet.
Don’t forget to keep quick snacks on hand. Go with whole grain granola and energy bars, fresh fruits, homemade trail mix, frozen grapes, non-fat yogurt, cheese sticks wrapped with sliced deli meats served with whole grain mustard for dipping, hard-cooked eggs, whole grain crackers, dried fruits and/or raw almonds or walnuts.
For a refreshing alternative to ice cream, try frozen yogurt, sorbet or gelato. Look for low-sugar varieties. Or, make your own ice pops – in a blender, purée plain Greek yogurt with chopped fresh fruit and honey, pour into ice pop molds and freeze.