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Easy, Low-Calorie Meals With a One-Week Shopping List

by Ann Jones

Going to the grocery store more than once a week can be a hassle, but you may find yourself making small runs between the big ones. Avoid multiple grocery shopping trips by planning a week's worth of easy, low-calorie meals in advance. Spend your time enjoying dinner with your family instead of running to the store -- or worse, undoing your healthy diet in the drive-through.

Breakfast

Hot cereals make healthy, hearty breakfasts, especially when mixed with fresh fruit. Oatmeal is the standard, but other grains such as quinoa and brown rice also taste delicious with skim milk, raw honey and soy margarine. Toss in a handful of walnuts for a dose of protein and healthy fat. Buy two loaves of whole-grain bread and freeze one to keep it fresh. Wash and dry a pint of blueberries, store them in a freezer bag and add a handful to your bowl before you pour in hot cereal; the cereal will defrost them. Pick up two dozen eggs and keep a family of four in omelets for a week, or thaw the bread and berries and make blueberry French toast.

Lunch

Prepare a week's worth of one-pot meals in a slow cooker and freeze individual portions to thaw out for lunch. Chili and vegetable soup store well in zippered plastic bags and thaw throughout the morning while you and your family are at work or school. Chop fresh vegetables such as carrots and celery, which keep for several days in plastic containers with a bit of water and a splash of lemon juice. Pack them with chickpea or edamame hummus, which also freezes well. Stock up on apples, pears and oranges for healthy lunchtime desserts that keep for days.

Dinner

Make dinner for a starving family in a hurry by keeping basic ingredients prepped and ready. Cook chicken or turkey breasts on the weekend -- three to four per family member per week -- and shred the meat for use in fajitas or tacos. Corn tortillas are healthier than white-flour tortillas, and they come in large bags that can easily last a family a week. Buy blocks of cheese and shred them yourself as needed. Canned corn, beans and tomatoes are versatile ingredients that work in everything from burritos to vegetable soup, allowing you to whip up low-calorie meals fast. Buy bulk bags of baby spinach to eat as salad with creamy dressing and to chop to include in soups, stews and omelets.

Snacks

Not only are processed snacks known diet-busters, they're expensive and have a tendency to disappear quickly. Buy a bag of whole-wheat pastry flour and stock up on applesauce, carrots and cranberries to make a large batch of healthy muffins. Whole-grain pita bread is tasty dipped in hummus or just baked in the broiler and brushed with olive oil, providing a lower-calorie alternative to chips. When only potato chips will do, make your own healthy version by slicing a potato into 1/8-inch-thick slices, tossing the slices in a light coating of olive oil and sprinkling them with sea salt before baking or microwaving. A bag of raw potatoes is more likely to last a week than a bag of potato chips.

About the Author

Ann Jones has been writing since 1998. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. Her journalistic work can be found in major magazines and newspapers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

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