Real Food, Real Fast: Quick & Healthy Meal Ideas When You’re On the Go

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It’s one of those days. You know the kind where you feel behind schedule from the get-go, even though you woke up 5 minutes before your alarm went off.

Your schedule is booked back-to-back and eating is almost an after-thought…UNTIL…your stomach growls and you realize it’s been hours since you’ve had anything to eat. Maybe you do what millions of American do — hit the drive-thru.

The drive-thru is “fast food,” right? Well, maybe not. In October 2014, a study showed that the average drive-thru wait time was 219.97 seconds. That’s nearly 4 minutes and for what? High salt, high fat, low nutrition, processed food, warmed under a lamp until you shout your request for a #3 into the speaker.

What if I told you that in the same amount of time, or maybe just a little bit more, you could have a freshly made meal that not only tastes better than combo meal #3, but is better for you? has a list of 52 healthy meals you can whip up in 12 minutes or less. Most of these meals require more assembly than actual cooking ability. Here is a sample day’s menu with the approximate time it would take you to make each meal. (Recipes shared from the link above.)

Breakfast – PB&H Waffle (2 minutes)

Toast 1 whole-grain waffle and smear with 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter. Drizzle with 1 tsp. honey and sprinkle with 1 tsp. sesame seeds.

Lunch – Taco Salad (6 minutes)

For the dressing, combine 2 tbsp. salsa, 1 tbsp. low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. olive oil, and 1 tsp. chili powder. Serve dressing over a salad with: 2 cups baby spinach, ½ thinly sliced celery stalk, 1 chopped scallion, 1 tbsp. chopped black olives, 2 tbsp. corn, and ¼ cup drained and rinsed black beans. Optional: Add ½ lightly toasted tortilla cut into strips to each salad.

Dinner – Couscous with Chicken Sausage Ragu (12 minutes)

Cook 1 serving couscous according to microwave instructions, about 7 to 10 minutes. While couscous is cooking, heat ½ tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Slice open 1 uncooked chicken sausage to remove the casing and add meat to the pan. Add ¼ cup onion (chopped) and sauté, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon. When the meat is no longer pink (about 4 to 5 minutes), add 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, 1 garlic clove (minced), 1/8 cup basil leaves (chopped), and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 2 minutes to warm through and toss with couscous.

In 20 minutes, you can have three tasty, nutritious meals that require only basic cooking skills. That’s what I call time well-spent.

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