You’ve probably heard that one way to lose weight is by eating several smaller meals throughout the day. Not only can this lead to weight loss, but snacking on 300-400 calorie mini-meals throughout the day is a great way to keep your energy up when you’re on the go.
But mini-meals don’t just mean snacks—they are just smaller-portioned, well-balanced meals. Here are some ideas for seven different types of delicious mini-meals.
1. For Breakfast
Mix a little Greek yogurt, honey, and cinnamon, and spread over whole wheat toast. Or make avocado toast! Add some salt and lime or a little tomato pesto and you’ve got one yummy breakfast.
Grab an egg “sammy.” You could stop at your local coffee shop and get one, but you’re probably better off making a healthier version at home. Try adding some turkey bacon to your egg sandwich for more protein (and less fat than regular bacon.)
Take a burrito to go. You can make breakfast burritos in advance and freeze them. Grab one in the morning, zap it in the microwave, and enjoy.
Check out this easy recipe:
Spicy Sausage Breakfast Burritos
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons butter
12 eggs, beaten
4 ounces diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup process cheese food (such as Velveeta), divided
3/4 cup salsa
10 burrito-size flour tortillas
1. Place the pork sausage and onion into a skillet over medium heat, and cook until the sausage is browned, about 10 minutes. Break the meat apart into crumbles as it cooks. Drain the excess grease.
2. In a separate skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until the foam subsides, and cook and stir the beaten eggs with the chilies until softly scrambled but not wet, about 3 minutes. Transfer the scrambled eggs into a large bowl, and stir in the cooked sausage mixture.
3. Place a tortilla onto a microwave-safe plate, and cook in the microwave on high setting for 10 to 20 seconds. The tortilla should be warm and pliable.
4. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sausage and egg mixture in a line down the tortilla, slightly off center.
5. Top with about 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese, and 1 tablespoon of salsa.
6. Fold 2 opposite ends of the tortilla over the filling. Press the ends down so they stay folded. Carefully roll the shorter unfolded edge over the burrito, pushing the filling to the back of the roll as you go, to snugly enclose the filling. Keep the ends folded as you roll.
7. Wrap in foil if you want to freeze them. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
6 For Lunch
Do you take the same old sandwich or salad to work every day? Pep up your peanut butter sandwich by adding some thinly sliced Granny Smith apples and a little cinnamon. Or instead of your usual sandwich, try a wrap. It’s an easy way to make and take your lunch with you. How about a turkey wrap? Roll 2 slices of turkey, arugula, 1 sliced heirloom tomato and 1 teaspoon horseradish in a low carb wrap. Just over 200 calories and better than boring lunch meat.
And if you always eat salads for lunch, but why not wrap up your salad? Try this:
Cobb Salad Wrap
- romaine lettuce
- chopped turkey breast
- crumbled blue cheese
- crumbled bacon
- chopped hard boiled eggs
- green onions, cherry tomatoes, and avocado, diced
- olive oil and lemon juice to taste
Combine lettuce, turkey, cheese, bacon, eggs, scallions, tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl. Add olive oil and lemon juice; toss to coat. Roll up in a tortilla and enjoy. How easy is that?
5 Even for Dinner
Want to scale down your portion sizes at dinner? Make the mini-me versions of some of your favorite foods.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounce Italian turkey sausage
- 1 cup tightly-packed arugula (about 1 ounce)
- 4 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (13.5 ounce) package of store-bought pizza crust (recommended: Pillsbury)
- All-purpose flour, for rolling out pizza dough
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized, heavy skillet. Add the sausage and cook until crumbled and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula and cook until wilted. Turn off the heat and let cool about 10 minutes. Add the cream cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to a thin 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. The cut each half into 8 equal rectangles.
3. Spoon topping onto one side of each of the rectangles. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the rectangle with egg wash. Close the rectangle of pizza dough over the topping. Use a fork to seal and crimp the edges. Place the pizza pockets onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush the top of each pizza pocket with egg wash. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce over low heat in a medium saucepan. Serve the hot pizza pockets with the marinara sauce alongside for dipping.
4 Feeling Fruity
Make a parfait. In a small jar or container, layer 1/2 cup fruit cut into 1/2-inch cubes with 1/4 cup low-fat yogurt. Top with 1 tablespoon toasted sliced almonds or granola. The best part about parfaits is that you can keep changing up your ingredients so you don’t eat the same old thing all the time. Try pineapples in strawberry yogurt or berries in vanilla yogurt. You have tons of mix-and-match options so you won’t get bored.
Or sip a smoothie. You can always stop at a smoothie chain, but you can also makesmoothies at home. Use ripe, fresh fruits (and veggies) to make a nutritious drink for any time of day. You can even buy pre-madefreezer smoothie kits. Just dump in the blender, and liquid, and press the puree button.
Here’s an example of a simple fruit smoothie you can make with basic ingredients:
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 peeled and segmented orange
- 4 ounce of vanilla Greek yogurt
Some Smoothie Tips:
- Add your liquid first. Using yogurt or coconut milk will make creamier smoothies. Adding fruit juice will add sugar and calories.
- If you want to add healthy greens to your drink, start with spinach. It has a much milder flavor.
- If you don’t feel like your smoothie is filling you up, try adding oats or oatmeal.
- Don’t just stick with sweet. Experiment with herbs (cinnamon, ginger) to spice up your smoothie.
3 Snack Time
Do you often find yourself digging in your purse or desk drawer for a granola bar? Did you know you can make your own?
Oat and Dried Fruit Bar
4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup dried figs, chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
6 ounce egg whites, lightly beaten
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 cup canola oil
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Stir together oats, oat bran, flour, salt, ginger, figs and cranberries in a large bowl. Whisk together egg whites, honey, buttermilk, applesauce and oil in a separate medium bowl. Stir liquid mixture into oat mixture and combine.
2. Spoon batter into sprayed pan, spreading into an even layer. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in a pan on a rack. Cut into 24 equal rectangles. And of course, always keep your favorite fresh fruits and veggies on hand for snacks. Grapes, apple and orange slices, bananas, baby carrots, celery, and red pepper strips are easy to pack and munch when hunger strikes.
2 Lactation Boosters
You’ve probably heard that breastfeeding burns tons of calories, right? Nursing and pumping moms definitely need to stay hydrated and keep up their energy. Did you know that there are several foods that can help boost a woman’s milk supply? Lots of moms make lactation smoothies or cookies to not only increase their milk supply, but to stave off hunger. These milk-boosters usually contain ingredients like oats, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, or flax seed—all known to help build a woman’s milk supply.
Dark Chocolate Oat Lactation Cookies
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks
1. Preheat the oven the 350ºF.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
4. Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
1 Kid-approved Mini-Meals
Remember Lunchables? What kid doesn’t love making their own little lunch? Send them to school with their own Lunchables: whole wheat crackers, lean meats and cheeses, veggie strips and hummus, fruit, and other easy-to-pack snacks.
Want to take a step up from the ordinary brown bag lunch? A trend in kid’s food these days are fancy and fun bento box lunches. The different sized compartments and containers can help you control portion size and remember to include all of the different food groups in your kid’s lunch. You can use a bento box to spice up last night’s leftovers or jazz up their usual sandwich.