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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.

            sljones

            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