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5 Ingredient Fix

In looking towards our next hands-on food program in March, enjoy a preview of the 5 Ingredient Fix class.

Recipes with five ingredients or less help you save money, spend less time preparing and cooking meals, and, in some cases, use a fewer number of dishes. These recipes do have limits on flavors, since few ingredients are used.

Register today at 217.877.6042 or online at for this class on March 27. If you are not able to join us, take these tips into your kitchen to make a short-ingredient recipe.

1. Use Convenience Foods. From bottled pasta sauce or salsa to frozen vegetables and canned beans, some recipes may rely on convenience, packaged foods. Note that these may increase calories, added sugar, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. When using these foods, read and compare food labels between brands to pick the one with better nutritional values.

2. Precook Meats and Freeze. Cook meat after you buy it, freeze in containers, and reheat for a recipe. The work is half done before you begin. For example, say you buy 5 pounds of ground beef on sale. Cook it all, divide into half pound or one pound portions, and freeze. When ready to cook (or too tired to cook and ready to find a restaurant), thaw the meat and add other ingredients to make sloppy joes, chili, tacos, beef and cabbage, etc. This works well for poultry pieces (chicken and turkey), roasts, pork, and other meats. Also use a slow cooker to prepare meats ahead of time for recipes like shredded BBQ pork or beef.


3. Partial Meals. Use your freezer to keep parts of meals available for quick reheating. Like having precooked meat, half the work is done and will make for quick meals. For example, say you make spaghetti with meat sauce for a meal. Make extra meat sauce and freeze in small containers (without pasta). When you want that meal again, thaw and reheat the sauce and serve over newly cooked pasta.

4. Cook from Your Pantry. Try cooking from ingredients you may already have on hand. For example, if you have frozen chicken breast, brown rice, frozen broccoli, and a bottle of low-sodium stir-fry sauce, you can make a stir-fry. Or what could you make with stew meat, a can of reduced-sodium beef broth, frozen mixed vegetables, a can of tomatoes, and Italian seasoning? (Hint: beef-vegetable soup).

For another take on 5 Ingredient Fix and a recipe for Pesto Chicken, read from Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious by fellow Extension Educator, Jenna Smith.

Spanish Omelet (1 serving)

To cut down on fat, try this recipe with an egg substitute or a mix of whole eggs and egg whites.

1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped tomato

1. In medium non-stick sauté pan, cook onion and pepper in olive oil. Remove from pan and add tomato.
2. Add eggs to pan, gently moving eggs to center to allow even cooking for omelet.
3. Add onions, pepper and tomato to one half of egg mixture. Fold other half over, covering vegetables.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 290 calories, 21g fat, 220mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 19g protein

Source: Fiesta of Flavors, University of Illinois Extension

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.