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Prep School: 5 Quick Diet-Friendly Dinners

With just a little advance planning and cooking on Sunday, you can save time and calories all week.

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Make ahead meals
Kana Okada
Kana Okada
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Shopping List


2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes
1 small beefsteak tomato
3 lemons
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large carrot
1 bunch celery
1 package white button mushrooms (8 ounces)
1 head garlic
1 shallot
1 bunch scallions
1 small Vidalia onion
1 cucumber
1 bunch basil
1 bunch parsley
1 package baby arugula

Meat and Poultry

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 pound flank steak
6 ounces hot Italian pork sausage

Canned and Packaged Foods

1 package whole wheat fusilli (16 ounces)
1 package pearled barley
1 package corn tortillas (10-count)
1 can pinto beans (15 ounces)
1 can no-salt-added chickpeas (15 ounces)
2 cans no-salt-added cannellini beans (15 ounces each)
1 jar pitted Kalamata olives
1 carton reduced-sodium chicken broth (32 ounces)


4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack (about 1 cup)
1 ounce crumbled feta (about 1/4 cup)

Frozen Foods

1 package frozen corn kernels (10 ounces)
3/4 pound frozen peeled and deveined large shrimp


If you don't already have these in your pantry, add them to the list.

Nonstick cooking spray
Extra virgin olive oil
Dijon mustard
Red wine vinegar
Dry white wine
Dry red wine
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Crushed red pepper flakes
Dried thyme leaves
Italian seasoning blend
Black pepper

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Prep Ahead

Spend a couple of hours whipping up these key ingredients (just refrigerate them in resealable containers), then use them to make dinners a snap.

Roast tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Halve and stem 2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes; cut each half into quarters. Lay in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, drizzle with 4 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir to coat. Roast until juicy and breaking down, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.

Cook barley: Place 1 cup barley in a large saucepan with 5 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until just al dente, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Drain.

Poach chicken: Place 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 9 to 14 minutes. Remove from liquid, let cool, and shred.

Make lemon dressing: Puree 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Prep vegetables: Slice 1 cup scallions. Dice 3 cups bell peppers.

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Chicken-and-Barley Soup

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 22 minutes

Get the recipe here

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Grilled Flank Steak with Mediterranean Barley Salad

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Get the recipe here

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Spicy Sausage-and-Pepper Pasta

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 16 minutes

Get the recipe here

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Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 17 minutes

Get the recipe here

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Lemony Arugula with Warm Shrimp and White Beans

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2012.

Get the recipe here

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

shelliehampton wrote:

I like many of the collections like this but please tell me how to get it all printed at once instead of making us print it all individually! If that's not an option now, I think many of us would appreciate that in the future. Thanks for your work.

9/4/2013 10:04:32 AM Report Abuse
mj9693 wrote:

I do not want diet friendly meal plans.. While I want to eat healthy I do not want or need to loose weight. I need to gain weight.

8/20/2013 01:24:40 PM Report Abuse
mollym10 wrote:

thank you so much! i'm not a good meal planner and this was extremely helpful! especially since many of the staples i had growing up are not healthy

8/18/2013 08:04:24 PM Report Abuse
kturner1011 wrote:

LOVE THIS! It worked for me - I was ready for the week and I lost two pounds while eating delicious food! More of this kind of article - shopping list, prep instructions, and recipes!

1/20/2013 12:35:33 PM Report Abuse
pigletsister1 wrote:

I loved this set of recipes. With a little prep ahead of time I have made dinner every night this week with little effort. And... My family has loved every one of the recipes so far. Keep it up!!!!

11/2/2012 10:11:07 AM Report Abuse
michellemorrone wrote:

LOVE this article! Can you do a healthy eating meal plan every week? This is exactly what my husband and I are looking for! Thank you!

10/15/2012 11:38:22 AM Report Abuse
suzeggleton wrote:

how about a week-long healthy eating plan for us vegetarians, i eat dairy but not fish or meat. thank you, love your magazine!!

10/15/2012 03:37:42 AM Report Abuse
tiptoegsxr wrote:

What am I, rich to buy ALL those foods listed here??

10/8/2012 01:06:00 PM Report Abuse
jncoats1027 wrote:

I absolutely LOVED this article. My husband and I are trying to eat healthy meals more often instead of ordering take-out. I loved the grocery list, as well as the easy to follow directions for preparing the meals. The best part is, that the meals really are delicious! Thanks for printing this wonderful article! I look forward to seeing more.

9/7/2012 09:03:48 PM Report Abuse
rnmish wrote:

I subscribe to Fitness mag and was delighted with this issue and the meal plan, which included all ingredients,recipes, prep tips etc. The meals are delicious and easy to prepare my family loved all of them!

9/3/2012 07:55:13 AM Report Abuse

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