Back-to-school season is always a hectic time. Between working and going to school, it can be hard to find the time to cook a nutritious meal. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 15-minute high-protein meals to help you make the most of your time! These recipes are easy to follow and are sure to please even the pickiest eaters. So whether you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner or something to take with you on the go, we’ve got you covered!
A Change of Seasons Might Mean A Change of Habits
So you’ve made it through the summer, and you’ve been hitting your health goals! But here comes the busy season- school, sports, carpooling… and all of a sudden, it can be tough to keep up the same level of dedication to your health. Suddenly, cooking a healthy meal from scratch seems like too much effort, and you find yourself reaching for unhealthy convenience foods. But it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little bit of planning, you can make healthy 15-minute meals that will help you stay on track all season long.
Meal Planning for Busy Nights
One of the best ways to make sure you’re eating healthy 15-minute meals is to meal plan ahead of time. This may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be! You can start by making a list of your favorite 15-minute recipes (or using the ones we have listed below). Then, once you know what you want to make, you can make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need. This way, when you’re feeling tired and hungry after a long day, you won’t have to waste time trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Instead, you can just refer to your list and get cooking!
Another tip for meal planning is to batch cook recipes that can be easily reheated. This way, you can make a big batch on the weekend and then just reheat it throughout the week. This is a great way to save time and money, and it’s also a good way to make sure you always have a healthy meal on hand.
How to Build A 15-Minute Meal
Now that you know how to plan for 15-minute meals, it’s time to learn how to build one! A 15-minute meal should contain three main components: a protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a vegetable. Here are some examples of each:
- Protein: chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, steak, or beans
- Complex Carbohydrates: quinoa, rice, sweet potato, whole wheat pasta, or winter squash
- Vegetables: broccoli, kale, carrots, tomatoes, or literally any veggie under the sun!
To build your 15-minute meal, start by cooking your protein. While that’s cooking, you can begin preparing your complex carbohydrate. Pro tip: you can bulk cook each of these at the start of the week. Not only does it make cooking so much quicker, but research shows high fiber carbs like rice, quinoa, and potatoes that have been cooked and cooled down become resistant to starches. That means they’re slower to digest, so you’ll stay fuller longer!
Once your protein and complex carbohydrate are cooked, it’s time to add in your vegetables. You can either cook them with your protein (if they’re quick-cooking like zucchini or spinach), steam or bake them separately, or serve them raw in a salad!
Five 15-Minute Back to School Recipes
Now that you know the basics of 15-minute meal prep, it’s time to put your skills to the test! Here are five 15-minute high protein recipes that are perfect for back-to-school season:
This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights because it comes together so quickly!
Makes 2 Servings
-1/2 lb skirt steak
-2 tablespoons fajita seasoning mix
-2-3 bell peppers, sliced
-1 onion, sliced
-1 tablespoons olive oil
-4 6″ tortillas
-Optional toppings: lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole
1) Slice steak on the diagonal. Place in a resealable bag and fajita seasoning. Massage marinade into the meat with your hands.
2) Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom.
3) Add meat and cook until done, about 5 minutes on each side of the steak strips.
4) Add peppers and onions and stir until veggies are cooked through but still crisp, another 3-4 minutes.
5) Transfer to a plate and serve on tortillas with desired toppings.
Baked Italian Chicken and Rice
This recipe is a one-pot meal that’s packed with flavor!
Makes four servings
-1 tablespoon olive oil-1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes
-1 jar (24 oz) of marinara sauce
-2 cups cooked rice
-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-Optional toppings: Parmesan cheese, parsley
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, about five minutes.
2) Stir in marinara sauce, rice, Italian seasoning, and mozzarella cheese.
3) Pour into a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with Parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.
Spicy Tuna Bowls
This recipe is perfect for a quick and easy lunch!
Makes four servings
-2 cans (12 oz) of tuna, drained
-1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
-1 tablespoon mayonnaise
-2 tablespoons diced onion
-4 cups cooked quinoa
-2 cups shredded cabbage
-1 cup shelled edamame
Optional toppings: sesame seeds, green onion, soy sauce
1) In a bowl, combine tuna, sriracha sauce, mayonnaise, and onion.
2) Stir in quinoa, cabbage, and edamame.
3) Divide into four bowls and top with sesame seeds, green onion, and soy sauce, if desired
One Pan Fish and Veggie Bake
This recipe is a great way to get your seafood fix!
Makes four servings
-1 pound fish fillets (cod, tilapia, salmon)
-1 cup cherry tomatoes
-1 cup diced potatoes
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 cloves minced garlic
-1 teaspoon dried thyme-salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) In a large baking dish, combine fish, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
3) Bake for 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Grilled Chicken Salad
This recipe is perfect for a light summer dinner!
Makes 4 servings
-1 pound chicken breast
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste-8 cups mixed greens
-1 cup diced cucumber
-1 cup diced tomatoes
-1 avocado, sliced-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-4-8 slices whole grain bread
1) Preheat the grill to medium heat. Season chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill chicken for about five minutes per side, or until cooked through.
2) Remove from the grill and let cool before slicing into strips.
3) In a large bowl, combine chicken strips, mixed greens, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and balsamic vinegar.
Divide into four bowls and serve with toasted whole grain bread.
Now that you have some 15-minute back to school recipes, you’ll be able to meal plan easily for those busy weeknights! 15 minutes is all it takes to make a delicious and nutritious meal that will give you the energy you need to power through your day. So don’t stress about what’s for dinner tonight, just try one of these recipes and enjoy!