Convenience items such as frozen foods, canned foods and half-prepared foods such as shredded veggies, are a perfect time-saving addition to supplement your cooking or be the base to a hearty, healthy, home-cooked meal.

Minimally processed convenience foods such as frozen fruits and vegetables are a quick, hassle-free way to add a nutritional boost to your cooking while convenience items such as canned soup concentrates meals can become a wonderful, hassle-free foundation to which you can add your favourite vegetables, proteins, and complex carbs!

Here are my top 7 convenience foods and some fun ideas to turn them into quick, delicious and healthy meals!

1. Frozen Proteins

Convenience items such as frozen falafel bites, fish filets, dumplings, chicken breasts and burger patties (both beef and veggie) are great for adding a healthy amount of protein to your meals. Because they are frozen, these convenient proteins have an extended shelf-life so you don’t have to worry about having your meats going bad within a week! Many of these products can be found in the store cooked, frozen, and ready to eat after heating, making it just that much more convenient.

2. Convenient Carbs

Carbs are often made out to be the villain, but by choosing items containing complex carbs such as whole grain breads versus products made with simple carbs such as many pastries and desserts, carbs can, and should be part of a healthy, balanced diet! Nowadays, stores offer a huge variety of convenient carb products such as flatbreads, wraps, and perogies. When eaten in balance with other foods including vegetables, proteins, and fats, and choosing products made with complex carbs, these convenience products are a quick, healthy addition to any snack or meal.

3. Salad Mixes

Mixed greens, shredded kale, and chopped salads are great for taking out the hassle of having to wash and cut vegetables. By cooking up some chicken or tofu, adding half an avocado, or some nutrient-packed seeds, nuts, and berries, a simple salad mix can be transformed into a delicious, hearty meal! Salads are also an easy lunch to pack to eat on-the-go: layer your ingredients into a Tupperware container or mason jar, and when you’re ready to eat just add the dressing, shake up, and enjoy!

4. Canned Soups

Whether you’re looking for a light chicken noodle soup to cure your sniffles or a hearty seafood chowder to fill you up, there is a pre-made soup to fit any mood. Canned soups make for a flavourful base to which you can add basically anything you want! It is important to add complex carbs, vegetables, and proteins to these soups to up the nutrient value and feel full for longer. Add lentils or rice to make a stick-to-your-ribs stew, add some cubed salmon or cod to make for a mean chowder, or toss in some fresh vegetables, tofu and noodles to a pre-made broth for a quick soup-noodle dinner.

5. Canned Beans

Canned beans don’t require as much preparation as dry beans and don’t take hours to cook: just drain and rinse, then they’re ready to go! Adding canned beans to recipes like a quick and nutritious quesadilla is a great way to add complex carbs that are rich in fibre and protein, keeping you satisfied for longer!

6. Pasta Sauce

A wholesome, minimally processed tomato sauce is a tasty way to jump-start your pasta dish. By simply adding your tomato sauce to some sauteed onions, garlic, vegetables, and ground beef, your pasta sauce will be ready even before your water boils! Toss with your favourite pasta and finish the dish with some cheese and freshly chopped herbs for a delicious and healthy meal that will satisfy any pasta craving. For an extra special meal, make your own fresh pasta!

7. Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables such as peas, corn or stir-fry mixes are perfect for a quick addition that requires no washing, peeling or cutting! Adding convenient frozen vegetables into any dish is a great way to add an extra nutritious boost to your meal and increase your daily vegetable consumption which is important for a well-balanced diet.

BONUS: Need help Meal Planning?

Now if you find yourself completely lost with how to start meal planning or preparing your own meals at home, or even if you want a little break, I have partnered with Lindsay Pleskot, to share with you her 3-2-1 Method for Meal Planning. Her concept of meal planning is to prepare 3 vegetables, 2 proteins and 1 starch, which would be the base of all your meals for a week. You would spend 1 hour preparing for the week (like washing, chopping, browning meats, etc…), and only spend 20 minutes putting it together every night. That will give you dinner & lunch in one go! How brilliant!?

In her program, you’ll get lots of meal planning and nutrition tips, all the recipes, shopping lists, swaps lists for your preferences, and options for making the meals vegan as well. Check out my partner link, here, if you’re interested in learning more about her meal planning program.

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Blog Contributor

This blog was written with the help of UBC nutrition student, Gilbert.