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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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Kana Okada
Kana Okada
Grilled Flank Steak with Mediterranean Barley Salad
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Shopping List

Produce

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)

Dairy

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

Staples

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

Nonstick cooking spray
Extra virgin olive oil
Honey
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
Salt
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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