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Weight Loss: Emergency protein to have around the house?

The belt has gotten a little tight and I'm in the process of losing a couple pounds. Sometimes there isn't any time to cook lunch or dinner, and only leftover veggie pasta in the fridge. If I don't have some protein with every meal I just don't feel right.

What kind of protein should I keep at hand for these emergencies? (I'm not a vegetarian.)

Preferably something that isn't too salty. And nuts are great, but I eat them with breakfast and/or for snacks.

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  1. I like to grill chicken breasts on weekends and use them throughout the week in salads, burritos, sandwiches, wraps, etc. And I don't use any oil on the meat when I grill. Just make sure the grate is really hot when you put the meat on it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojoeater

      I do the same, or sometimes I use a turkey breast. Usually Sunday evening, or Monday if I'm running behind, I grill or bake up four or five chicken breasts and then eat them various ways throughout the week. It saves time and it takes away my excuse of not having anything to eat (which would cause me to need to go out or cheat) b/c it is already prepared.

      Besides the other things already mentioned by Molly and MOJOE I also keep yogurt on hand and good cheese.

    2. Things I keep around: canned albacore, fat free cottage cheese, sliced turkey breast, egg whites, Trader Joe's shredded BBQ chicken.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mollyomormon

        Oh yeah - TJ's!! I used to always have a bag of their "Just Grilled Chicken Strips" in the freezer. A couple minutes in the microwave and I'd have the aforementioned grilled chicken without any grilling/cooking on my part. Good stuff.

        1. re: mollyomormon

          We don't have a Trader Joe's anywhere around where I live in Iowa. Any ideas where I can buy anything similar online? I checked and I can't buy from Trader Joe's.

        2. Canned tuna. Low fat yogurt works wonders as a snack when you're trying to lose weight. Or make an easy "Asian" soup (I like thin slices of peeled ginger, shrimp, peeled and cored chunks of cucumber, tofu and a beaten egg, no oil, light salt and pepper) for dinner. The water in the soup helps to create a feeling of fullness and you're actually getting a lot of nutrients from the various components. The shrimp you can buy individually frozen and defrost easily and quickly in 5 minutes. Add some thinly sliced green onions or cilantro if you have it around.

          1. I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, and am gaining more weight than I want! I was just trying to figure out the same thing...lower fat protein snacks!

            I'm an omnivore, but one thing I really enjoy is marinated baked tofu. When its marinated and cooked slow and low, it almost tastes like a jerky. I make a bunch at once and then freeze the extras to use for later.

            I slice two xtra firm tofu blocks into fairly thin slices. I press the excess water out for a little while. Then, I marinate the tofu in a little oil and nearly equal parts soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. I like to add lots garlic, but you could also add hot peppers, ginger, anythign that suits you. I marinate overnight, and then the next day cook at around 300 or 350 for as long as it takes to get the texture I want. This is very forgiving to lots of experimentation.

            I can carry these around w/ me in a ziplock, and have a great emergency snack. And I like that its a break from nuts, which I also eat a lot at other times.

            Good luck, I'll follow this thread with interest as I work to manage my own gain these next few months.


            1. Thanks for the help. All of these are good ideas.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Romanmk

                just watch the sodium content in a lot of the foods suggested above.

                prepared/packaged meats always have a ton of sodium. same goes for canned tuna and salmon. buy the low sodium varieties or rinse well. many places, including trader joe's, carry low sodium or no salt added light tuna.

                if you're really desperate for quick & easy "real food," you can even buy prepackaged containers of egg whites that you just pop into the microwave & nuke for a couple of minutes. personally i think it's a waste of packaging, and it's so easy - and i would imagine much tastier [i've never tried the packages] - to whip up an egg white omelette or scramble yourself. you could also hard-cook [not boil!] a dozen or two eggs at the beginning of the week and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack.

                cottage cheese is a terrific idea, but either buy a low sodium/no salt added brand ["friendship" is available at whole foods, erewhon & gelson's], or rinse the regular stuff in a fine mesh strainer to remove some of the salt.

                and definitely go easy on the other varieties of cheese besides cottage cheese in terms of fat content. cheese is high in saturated fat unless you buy the reduced fat or fat free versions. most fat free cheeses taste like plastic, but trader joe's carries some really good reduced fat varieites, and if you like goat cheese, definitely try their "chevre lite." as a general rule, the harder the cheese, the higher the fat content. [sounds counter-intuitive, i know. how can creamy brie contain less fat than parmesan? but ounce for ounce, it does!] and again, cheese is pretty salty.

                as for yogurt, greek yogurt is generally higher in protein than basic american-style yogurt. try "fage total" 0% or 2%, or trader joe's nonfat or lowfat plain greek style yogurt.

                if you have a sweet tooth, try nonfat ricotta with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or you can stir some protein powder into regular nonfat yogurt for a pudding-like treat.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I think that some of this advice only applies if one is sensitive to sodium, however.

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    i focused on the sodium issue for 2 reasons:

                    1. the dietary sodium intake for a typical american is already excessive, and salt increases water retention...definitely an issue when your waistband is feeling a bit snug :)

                    2. the o.p. requested suggestions for "something that isn't too salty."

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      I don't consider myself sensitive to sodium. I'm just trying to avoid all that unnecessary salt in processed food. On the other hand we have the traditional diets that are high in salt, like Japanese food, which I enjoy. Moderation in all things.

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      who eats ounces of parmesan?!? What you say is all true, but don't you find that people eat far more of the softer cheeses than the hard ones? It is so easy to down fistfuls of creamy brie than reggiano. The hard, fatty cheese are great for flavoring dishes as you don't need a lot, no?

                      1. re: alex8alot

                        if only all my clients were as sensible as you! :)

                        i'm a nutritionist, and sadly, i've learned in my practice that soooo many people out there really don't know when to say when. plus, there are certain hard cheeses that people can put away in pretty hefty amounts...i.e. cheddar [popular in grilled cheese or shredded in mexican dishes].

                        1. re: alex8alot

                          I slice off hunks of Reggiano and drizzle with a *good* balsamic vinegar as a snack or appetizer...

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Actually, that's not true. Per ounce for ounce, brie contains less calories than parmesan but more fat.

                          1 oz (28g) Parmesan - 110 cals, 7g fat
                          1 0z (28g) Brie - 94 cals, 8g fat

                          And that's just for regular brie, when you go into (very common) double or triple creme varieties you're really amping up the fat!

                          From www.nutritiondata.com

                      2. I'm surprised that no one suggested having a glass of milk.

                        5 Replies
                          1. re: mojoeater

                            i buy tofurky jerky - a lot of protein, a lot of flavor and takes awhile to eat.

                            1. re: djk

                              I've never seen that but it sounds great! Do you know of any chain groceries (inc. Wild Oats, etc.) that carry it?

                              1. re: carissarene

                                you'd have to google for your area, sometimes it's at local health food places etc. i order online from shopnatural or the veganstore. i'm kind of addicted....

                          2. re: chocolatetartguy

                            low fat milk is good. it keeps you full.

                            nut's are good to have around too.

                          3. single serve cans of salmon are great--low cal and omega 3 all at once. also, fat free cottage cheese, baby bell cheeses, cheese sticks, thin-sliced turkey wrapped in a lettuce leaf

                            1. yeah, I forgot hard-boiled eggs. if you take out the yolk you get all the protein and extremely little fat, and they are satisfying.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mlschot

                                you can even just bake up an entire casserole dish of egg whites...season to taste and pop it in the oven...then just cut into squares for a super-convenient snack, or cube/chop up for egg white salad or as a topping for a salad of greens & veggies.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Ah, that's such a good idea! How many egg whites do you do at once? And at what temp and how long do you bake them?

                              2. Edamame, soynuts, dried or canned beans, or string cheese are always my staples, including some already mentioned- canned salmon, cottage cheese, Fage yogurt- I also like sunflower seeds in shells because they take me a while to eat.

                                1. Chick peas. I can eat them straight from the can.

                                  1. shrimp cocktail ( i buy frozen cooked large shrimp)
                                    edamame (dried or regular)
                                    cottage cheese
                                    greek yogurt
                                    low fat or even fat free cheese (not very tasty but quick and very high protein)
                                    kashi go lean cereal w/ skim milk

                                    1. I enjoy eating those chunks of surimi crab meat for just this type of situation.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Lixer

                                        Milk and yoghurt can be high in carbohydrates. Chick peas, very high in carbs.Not that I am one of those rabid carb-aphobes, though I do watch and prefer to snack on protein because it fills me up and satisfies me. I like a small handful of unsalted almonds. Now before you all jump on me about how high in far nuts are, I said a small handful. And since they're very high in protein they fill me up. I also really like Laughing Cow Light because it's portion controlled by the wrapper. I spread one wedge on a multi-grain Wasa or similar crispy flatbread (since I crave crunchy, salty) and top with either a tsp of lumpfish caviar, or a thin slice of tomato and basil leaf or sun dried tomato. Mmmm.

                                      2. Canned sardines/herring in water or tomato sauce.

                                        Cottage cheese is good too but the sardines are a back up for when I'm out.

                                        1. I hope this doesn't get me drummed out of town, but I like the Breezer Protein Drinks for low cal, fast protein. They're fruity and thin like Tang not thick and chocolatey like a milkshake.

                                          1. I have to toss in a few of my favorite protein snacks, which also tends to be extreamley high in calcuim per serving (Around 20-25% of the daily recomended). Candied mini crabs or wasabi coated anchovies. They have a little bit of fat, but I find they satisfy protein snack cravings. Don't forget the dried squid!!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: graffitipassion

                                              I love that someone else mentioned dried squid. It has helped me lose sooo much weight, because when I'm hungry I have like one or two pieces, it is chewy, so it takes a while to eat, and I immedietly feel less full! In non protein world, I also tend towards kim chee for a filling snack with virtually no calories.

                                              1. re: dagoose

                                                What kind of store do you buy dried squid in? I'd love to try it.

                                                1. re: amymsmom

                                                  Most Asian stores like 99 Ranch should have it.

                                              2. re: graffitipassion

                                                I immediately thought of dried chile flavored squid (which I think is actually cuttlefish) from the East Asian market. I love the stuff. It is filled with salt, though.

                                                Also, just keep squid slices, or rings, or cuttle fish chunks in the freezer, do a quick boil or pan fry in fat free cooking spray, or even grill, then season, add to a salad, or whatever.

                                                Long live squid!

                                                Also, I drink low fat sugar fee soy milk in between meals as well. Like a half cup taken with three cashew or almonds. You can sweeten w/ splenda or low cal sweetener of choice.

                                                dagoose: I am reducing my weight post-pregnancy now and have been eating loads of kimchee and making kimchee and kochujang based veg and seafood soups. What a tasty way to become slim and beautiful!!!!

                                              3. Don't know how you feel about drinking protein, but, there is a great product from Isopure that is basically protein water, no carbs, nothing else. It comes in about a 20 oz. bottler in 8-10 flavors and provides you with 50-60 grams of protein (your recommended daily intake is 60-75). I have only found it in health food/vitamin shops. It's not cheap, about $3.50 ea or case discounts. Let me know if you try it. I have used it to lose a great deal of weight this spring/summer.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                  I drink Isopure regularly as a weight lifter, but honestly, you're better off not to drink the whole bottle at once because your body cannot utilize all 40g best at one time. You're better off to have half a bottle with an apple, and the other half later in another snack. FWIW, there are 40g of protein, 0g of fat or carbs, 160 calories. I like the Blue Raspberry, Icy Grape, and Green Apple Melon. I'd pass on the Orange-Pineapple and Passion Fruit and Tropical Punch flavors.

                                                  Nitrotech also makes a protein drink in a Tropical flavor that I really like as well... 190 calories and 45g of protein.

                                                  For mix em up shakes, I like Myoplex Carb Sense Cookies'n'Cream. I echo the sentiments below for Jay Robb's, but prefer the Whey version personally.

                                                  Echo the sentiments for fat free cottage cheese, 0% Total Yogurt, canned fish or chicken...

                                                  Also, Soy Grits by Bob's Red Mill are a personal fave... one serving has 130 cal, 7g fiber, and 14g of protein, and I cook em up with water, cinnamon, vanilla, and sweetener. can also easily be made savory with chicken broth and any spices or veggies you so desire.

                                                  I like to make a batch of protein muffins and throw them in the freezer for a quick meal alongside some cottage cheese...

                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    Emme, is there any way I can email you directly with eating questions?

                                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                                      absolutely... give me yours and i will email you...?

                                                    2. re: Emme

                                                      Sounds ok just check with your doctor or nutritionist first.

                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                        Do you have a recipe for protein muffins?

                                                        1. re: amy_rc

                                                          I can dig up my exact recipe if you're not good at winging it, but basically I take a standard muffin recipe, then do the following...

                                                          For 1/2 to 3/4 of the flour called for, I substitute what I call "All-Bran flour," which I make by grinding All-Bran Extra Fiber in a food processor or coffee mill. 1 cup cereal = 1/4 cup flour. You can also stir in extra cereal for texture or crunch like bran muffins.

                                                          Sub prune puree or sugar free applesauce (generally the latter) for the oil

                                                          Add in a 2-3 scoops of protein powder (Jay Robb's Whey Protein or Isopure [generally vanilla])

                                                          Sub egg whites for the eggs.

                                                          Sub stevia or xylitol [or splenda] for whatever sugar is in the recipe.

                                                          I then follow the general instructions of the recipe and bake. These are healthy tasting muffins, and I mean branny healthy tasting. If you don't like sugar substitutes eliminate it, and put in sugar if you prefer or mashed bananas or other ripe chopped fruit... These are just something I do, so please don't shoot the messenger ;)

                                                    3. In the same vein as above, one of the best things I've found is to have a protein shake in the morning. I really like Jay Robb's Egg White Protien in Vanilla flavor (much better in content and flavor than the other Whey or Soy based products of the same brand). It's low sodium, low fat, and doesn't have that awful gummy texture when mixed into a smoothie with yogurt and fruit. I've found that I am significantly less hungry throughout the whole day after having one of these. You can buy it at Wholefoods or online: http://www.jayrobb.com/cat_proteinEgg...

                                                      Here's what it DOESN"T have in it:
                                                      Contains No
                                                      Refined Sugar
                                                      Corn Syrup
                                                      Artificial Flavors
                                                      Artificial Sweeteners
                                                      Artificial Colors

                                                      1. This might not technically be food, but for losing weight a protein shake is a quick and easy. Next Nutrition Designer Whey is the best tasting and easiest to mix whey powder, and EAS makes the best tasting meal replacement powder - taste is key to keep you using these. One scoop of each mixed with milk or water is fast, easy, and will give you the quick boost of protein you're looking for.

                                                        1. I LOVE those little cans of white albacore tuna in water. I squeeze them totally dry, add just a bit of mayo, and some minced veggies. 20 grams protein in that little can and it really is filling!

                                                          I also get Atkinis Advantage brownie bars (19 grams protein) but not as filling as tuna.

                                                          Dry roasted edamame from Trader Joe's is another option. They have loads of protein too. But they are purely snacks and I use them when I need to pick at something.
                                                          Heck, the edamame is really great steamed or boiled too with salt. Yum!


                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I have replaced my breakfast with a protein smoothie - and they are awesome! This is what I do :
                                                              I scoop of Designer Protein Powder in Chocolate
                                                              a package of Equal (or two)
                                                              1 Tablespoon finely ground flax seeds
                                                              2 tablespoons plain organic yogurt

                                                              I blend it all with a handy emersion blender, and it comes out so light and frothy, like a milkshake! The flax and the yogurt make it creamy without a ton of calories. The protein powder is pretty much all protein (stay away from ones with added sugar, use equal/ splenda) so the entire meal is filling and well under 200 calories. You can increase its nutritial value with frozen berries, but I keep it simple. Enjoy!

                                                            2. Get black beans or refried beans and make tacos using corn tortillas, salsa and some Fage yogurt instead of sour cream. For the refried beans make sure you get fat free or vegetarian (read: no lard).
                                                              I also make egg tacos by scrambling egg whites with some finely chopped veggies and either a little bit of pesto or some hot sauce.

                                                              1. boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can make about a million at once and eat them for the rest of the week. So that they go with everything, I just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon juice over the top. Into the oven at 350 with foil over the top with holes poked in, for about 25-30 mins. Cooking times may be different for a real oven as I use a toaster oven. (No working oven in my sublet apt. can you believe it? They store dishes in it!)

                                                                1. Chicken breasts are the best,I grill mine on one of those stove top grill pans.Turkey breast is good too mustard is good to use for sandwiches because no calories and tasty.I use a bit of mayo too don't want to over skimp or over induldge.Beans are awsome and I don't mean those ones you get out of the can cooked dry beans are way more satisfying.I get the Hambeens 15 bean mix,it's like a treat with so many types of beans,I don't add pork,I put in olive oil and sweet chili paste and the seasoning pack it comes with.Sometimes curry and olive oil with vegis.Sometimes i'll add really lean beef.I quit eating pork and feel so much better in every way.

                                                                  1. Boneless chicken breasts, as others have said, and nonfat cottage cheese. (Lucerne brand is actually pretty creamy for NFCC.) I keep cheese sticks around for a quick protein fix, especially mid-afternoon. Now, this isn't exactly gourmet cooking, but if you haven't had time to grill those chicken breasts, you can nuke one right out of the freezer in about seven minutes!

                                                                    1. Lots of great ideas in here... I don't see too much fish mentioned.
                                                                      We get the frozen shrink wrapped salmon from Costco to keep on hand. It's perfect- cooks up fast and has upwards of 20 grams protein in about 3-4ozs which is usually one piece (lemon juice and fresh dill on top). Also they have the frozen shrink wrapped tilapia- great broiled with a spritz of lemon juice and a bit of olive oil.
                                                                      Even the frozen raw shrimp make a fast meal- run them under cold water, yank them out of their shells, chop into 3 pieces and saute with garlic, lemon juice, dash of soy and mix in with fresh veg for a simple stir fry.
                                                                      Obviously you have to factor in thawing time, but unless you live with a fisherman isn't most fish prev frozen when you buy it from the store anyway?
                                                                      Isopure is a great protein drink (but I can't stand any of the flavors)
                                                                      Profect is a 3 oz shot-sized bottle of liquid protein that gives you I think 25 grams of protein- but it seems like you are looking for FOOD and not just a supplement. Anyway profect is VERY spendy and tastes like shampoo (at least to me it does.)

                                                                      1. I would love to hear thoughts on this little snack, my mom used to make it for me when I was a kid.
                                                                        Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls

                                                                        3/4 c quick cook oats
                                                                        3/4 c chunky peanut butter
                                                                        3/4 c powdered milk
                                                                        1/2 c honey
                                                                        Combine and form 1" balls. Refridgerate for several hours uncovered.

                                                                        I add some ground flax seed to mine. Also, the recipe calls for rasins, but I don't care for them.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: amy_rc

                                                                          how much flax seed? do you think it would work with less honey and nonfat powdered milk? i use natural peanut butter so it might be too oily. hmm... i have little ones and think this looks great - and they'd like the raisins.

                                                                          1. re: AMFM

                                                                            I use less powdered milk and add the flax to make up for it. I have made it several times so I just look for the consistency I want. I think that I may work with natural peanut butter, and that may actually help to make up for moisture if you cut some of the honey out. Not to jinx it, but I don't think that you can mess it up...if you stir it together and it is too dry add more honey/peanut butter and if it is too wet add more powdered milk or oatmeal. Also, I prefer to leave it uncovered in the fridge for a day or so because it is more solid. I store it in the fridge.
                                                                            :) A

                                                                              1. re: amy_rc

                                                                                FYI, I use Skippy Natural Chunky Peanut Butter. It is not as natural as going to Whole Foods and grinding your own, but it doesn't have the oil that needs to be stirred in.

                                                                          2. plain-ass tofu.

                                                                            and miso-- make miso soup for 1 at least once every day, using up leftover veggies. if you have some miso soup before meals, you'll eat less. satisfying and lo cal lo fat non-cholesterol. eat miso soup instead of snacks.

                                                                            1. Personal Favorites:

                                                                              1. smoked salmon
                                                                              2. vitamuffins (good luck eating only one or two)
                                                                              3. soy crisps
                                                                              4. lump crabmeat (on anything)
                                                                              5, ostrich

                                                                              1. The Egg White only cartons...lot's of them. So easy to make an easy, satisfying and delicous scramble with almost anything healthy in the fridge. Leftover, egg white scrambles rock!

                                                                                1. I've recently started mixing a scoop of chocolate protein powder with a packet of plain oatmeal (you can also use one serving of steel cut oats). Not only is the oatmeal a healthy, complex carbohydrate, but it's also filling and the warmpth is satisfying. Mixing the chocolate protein powder gives it flavor and also PUMPS YOU UP with protein. You can also add a tablespoon of peanut butter if you want some healthy fats.

                                                                                  Directions: Make the oatmeal as usual. Once it's finished, add the scoop of protein powder, some extra water (1/4 a cup or less usually does the trick), and stir.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: PlatypusJ

                                                                                    I do the same, except I use Isopure Apple flavored protein powder and then add cinnamon, vanilla, and a bit of sweetener.

                                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                                      I do the opposite, and add a couple of tablespoons of oatmeal and one of peanut butter to my chocolate protein shake and blend with ice. Very filling.

                                                                                  2. A personal favorite snack, mostly protein:

                                                                                    Mix Fage 0% yogurt with cubed grilled chicken breast and cubed cucumber, season with garlic and mint.

                                                                                    I keep this handy and eat it by the scoop when the snacking urge hits me.


                                                                                    1. Edamame is a good protein and it's very low fat and good for you. You can have it dry roasted, or even buy it like frozen beans. Cook it into things. You can make a dip that's sorta green like guacamole, with it too. Alton Brown recently did an episode on edamame and he sold me on it. :) We keep dry roasted around for snacks. :)