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Chicken, instant rice, and roasted frozen vegetables displayed on a plate.

Our doctors enjoy quick, easy, and healthful meals

You buy fresh produce at the beginning of the week with the hopes of making a spectacular meal. Then, the end of the week comes along, and all that produce has gone bad. You no longer need to worry about using all your greens before they rot—instead, substitute these frozen or canned options our St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physicians use.

Instant meal staples to keep in your pantry

When shopping for instant foods, there are a few things to consider. Look through the nutrition label for simple ingredient lists with whole foods and low to moderate amounts of sodium. Avoid buying packaged foods that include preservatives, trans fat, artificial sweeteners, and added sugars.

Registered Dietitian Emily Morris from St. Joseph Health’s Nutrition Services shares other ingredients to pay attention to on nutrition labels.

“In general, when purchasing packaged foods, the fewer ingredients, the better. Some ingredients like hydrogenated fats and oils add unhealthy trans fats to foods, while other ingredients such as citric acid are harmless and are meant to help keep foods safe and offer consistent taste and texture. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the ingredients that are in the foods you buy most often and decide for yourself what you prefer to purchase.”

There are some food items you can keep stocked in your pantry to prepare multiple simple and healthy meals. Include these instant options on your next shopping list:

  • Canned black or pinto beans
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Oats or instant oatmeal
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Salsa
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Instant rice
  • Corn tortillas
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen berries

Tips for preparing instant rice and frozen vegetables

A bag of frozen vegetables or a box of minute rice might not sound all that exciting. However, there are ways to spice up these staples and make them something you actually want to eat. Use these simple tips to improve pantry meals like instant rice and frozen veggies.

How to roast frozen vegetables

Some people don’t think to roast frozen vegetables. You pop a steamable bag in the microwave, and there—you have an easy side dish. If you want to add a little flair to this timeless side, it’s as simple as one, two, three. First, lightly coat your frozen vegetables with oil, helping to increase their surface temperature and not dry out in the oven. Second, spread the veggies out on a preheated baking sheet in a single layer and stick them in the oven. Third, flip them after 15 minutes at 450 degrees to get both sides nice and caramelized. And there you have it!

How to make your instant rice taste better

Make your instant rice a little special with different flavors you can infuse into the dish. You can use minute rice in a variety of meals, like breakfast bowls and stir fry. The additional flavor infusions you can add to the dishes come from cooking the rice in a saucepan. Instead of water, you can substitute other liquids like broth, fruit juice, or non-dairy milks.

Two easy and healthy pantry recipes

You can store all the items in these recipes in the pantry or freezer for optimal food lifespan needs. Serve healthy meals full of nutritious ingredients with these recipes.

Chicken and rice bowl with vegetables


  • Frozen chicken
  • Bagged frozen veggies
  • Instant brown rice
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Italian seasoning (optional)


  • Cook veggies, chicken, and rice according to package instructions.
  • In your bowl, layer rice, chicken, and veggies in any order.
  • Sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning to desired taste.

Bean quesadilla


  • Canned black or pinto beans
  • Corn tortillas
  • Salsa
  • Frozen vegetables (corn, peppers, or onions)
  • Cheese


  • Cook the veggies according to the package instructions.
  • Spread the black or pinto beans onto the corn tortillas.
  • Add the salsa, cheese, and veggies as fillings.
  • Top with a second tortilla.
  • Cook the quesadilla on a griddle or in a sandwich press.

Get started creating meals with staple pieces you have right in your pantry! If you have more questions relating to diet and nutrition, schedule a visit with a St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician to get the best recommendations for your lifestyle.


5 Healthy Pantry Meals You Can Make With 11 Cheap Staples | Well+Good
How to Choose Healthy Packaged Foods
How To Roast Frozen Vegetables | Healthy Delicious
Tasty Ways to Infuse Rice and Inspired Infusion Ideas | Minute® Rice

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