Healthy Meal Hacks with 3 Ingredients or Less: Bulk Up Your Frozen Dinners, Mac and Cheese & More

Mar 3 2021
Question@2x Hey Hungry Girl,

I don't always have the energy to cook a meal from scratch, but packaged meals tend to leave me unsatisfied. Any suggestions for throwing together an easy meal that actually fills me up?

Make It Easy
Answer@2x Hi Make It Easy,

I'm a volume eater, so I'm very familiar with looking at a meager frozen dinner, thinking "Is that it?" But over the years, I've developed a lot of tactics for turning convenient meals and meal starters into large & in charge lunches and dinners. Here are five examples of how you can throw together a quick meal with three ingredients or less…

Boxed Macaroni & Cheese + Cauliflower Florets + Tuna

Easy mac ‘n cheese is always going to have a special place in my heart. You can go with the blue-box Kraft classic or one of the many new options hitting shelves these days. Whatever your starter is, make your serving larger AND more balanced with veggies and protein. I suggest adding cooked cauliflower florets (if they’re already cheese-sauced, even better!) and some canned or pouched tuna. It's like a super-easy tuna casserole! Other great add-ins: shredded BBQ chicken, peas, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Bagged Salad + Salsa + Precooked Chicken

I like salad kits where the add-ins are packed separately, so I can customize how much I use. While you're at the store, grab some cooked chicken strips — one of the most versatile healthy shortcuts around! And if the dressing that comes with your salad is a bit richer than you'd prefer, lighten it up. I like mixing in salsa (works perfectly with ranch), but if that doesn't fit your flavor profile, try adding a bit of vinegar or Greek yogurt to stretch a serving of heavy dressing without sacrificing flavor.

Frozen Pasta-Based Dinners + Veggie Noodles

Noodle-based meals in the freezer aisle are typically smothered in some kind of delicious sauce… and there’s typically more than enough of that sauce to accommodate some veggie noodles! Frozen spiralized veggies (like the ones by Green Giant) are ideal, since you just have to heat them up. And hearts of palm noodles a la Palmini are a terrific shelf-stable option. Another great hack for this meal and more? Cook up a spaghetti squash on the weekend, so that you have nature's veggie noodles at the ready anytime you need a scoop during the week.

Asian-Style Frozen Meals + Cauliflower Rice

Just like frozen pasta dinners, Asian-style meals in the freezer aisle often have extra sauce to go around! And filling out that serving size is easy as adding cauliflower rice. I pretty much always keep bags of frozen cauli' rice around. Still need something more? Raid the fridge & freezer for leftover veggies or protein. If the meal has beef, sometimes I add sliced portabella mushrooms — they absorb that beefy flavor and taste amazing. Scrambled egg whites are another great addition!

Rice Meal Starters + Frozen Stir-Fry Veggies + Egg

I've become a huge fan of rice made with veggies and lentils, like RightRice and shelf-stable Green Giant Riced Veggies. I also love the rice-based pouches by La Tortilla Factory… Shelf stable, and they heat up in 90 seconds! Mix one of these with some stir-fry veggies, and season if needed. Then put an egg on it. A simple sunny-side-up egg brings protein and makes the meal feel more put together. It's like finishing off a simple outfit with a great hat… Tada, it's dinnertime!

Hungry for More Meal Hacks?

The Trader Joe’s Haul Episode: Meal Hacks Edition!

This week’s Hungry Girl podcast is PACKED with brand-new food finds and longtime favorites for easy & delicious meals in no time! Tune in for…

⭑ heat & eat veggies exploding with flavor
⭑ a saucy meal starter the gang gives rave reviews
⭑ Lisa’s carb-cutting trick for premade wraps
… and so much more! Plus, an opportunity to get a HUNGRY GIRL FREEBIE.

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Chew on this:

Today, March 3rd, is National Cold Cuts Day. Shoutout to Boar's Head and their lineup of lower-sodium deli meats, like the classic Ovengold Roasted Turkey Breast… YUM.

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