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The Formula for Easy Dinner

It’s been a long day. Heck it’s been a long week. Time is limited, and that has prevented you from planning properly or making it to the grocery store. Because of this, you find yourself reaching for the same recipes over and over again. While it’s okay to have a few favorites in rotation, you need to keep things fresh and interesting so that you don’t get bored. If only there was a magical formula for getting a nourishing, easy dinner on the table! Well there is! And it’s designed to free you from that recipe rut while giving you confidence to create a delicious meal any night of the week. 

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Would you believe that it’s actually pretty simple too? It is!  Four simple steps is all it takes.

The Easy Dinner Formula

Step 1: Pick a protein – Choose a meat or non-meat protein source. It can be something pre-
cooked or something you’ll need to cook, depending on how much time you’ve got and what you have in your fridge, freezer or pantry. For meat, go with a 3 ounce cooked portion per person or about 4 ounces raw uncooked portion per person. And if you’re choosing non-meat, go with a ½ cup beans, ½ cup edamame, ½ cup tofu, or 2 tablespoons nut butter.

Step 2: Pick some vegetables – Vegetables can be cooked or uncooked, fresh, canned or
frozen, but aim for at least two servings. Bonus points for getting more than 1 type of vegetable. And if choosing canned or frozen, choose vegetables that don’t contain added salt or sugar. A serving of raw, leafy greens is 2 cups. A serving of other vegetables is 1 cup raw or cooked. 

Step 3: Pick a whole grain – You’re going to need some energy from carbohydrates too. Avoid refined, overly processed carbohydrates and choose whole grains instead. Whole grain pastas and breads are great, so are corn or whole grain tortillas. You can even use whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur, kamut, millet or others! Choose 2-3 servings of whole grains. What counts as a serving? A 1-ounce bread slice, a 6-inch tortilla, 1 whole grain English muffin, ½ cup brown or wild rice, ½ cup cooked whole grain pasta, ½ cup other whole grains, such as quinoa.

Step 4: Choose a flavor – This can be a salad dressing or as simple as extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. Just keep the flavor light and not over-powering.

Here’s an example and recipe to get you started!

Step 1 – Pick a protein – Chicken Burgers with Garlic Cilantro Mayo (see recipe below)

Step 2 – Pick some vegetables – Salad and toppings (lettuce, tomato, etc) for burgers

Step 3 – Pick a whole grain – Whole grain hamburger buns

Step 4 – Choose a flavor – Garlic Cilantro mayo and salad dressing

Add to Plan to Eat

Chicken Burgers with Garlic Cilantro Mayo

Source: Sara Haas

Course: Main Course



  • vegetable oil as needed for grill
  • 1 14 pound ground chicken (breast or thigh or combination)
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño (add more for additional heat)
  • 1 12 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons minced white onion
  • 12 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 teaspoon black pepper
  • 14 cup bread crumbs preferably whole wheat
  • For the Mayo:
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 14 cup fresh cilantro
  • 14 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For Serving:
  • 8 small whole wheat rolls halved and toasted
  • avocado
  • red onion
  • lettuce tomato


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat or set a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush grates of grill lightly with oil or coat grill pan lightly with oil.
  2. Combine the ground chicken, garlic, jalapeño, chili powder, onion, salt, pepper and bread crumbs together in a large bowl. Mix with clean hands until just combined. Shape into 8, equal-size patties.
  3. Once grill is hot, add the patties. Cook about 14 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165’F, flipping once halfway through cooking time.
  4. To make the Garlic Cilantro Mayo: Combine the garlic, cilantro, mayonnaise and lime juice in a small food processor and puree until smooth, adding water, if needed to thin to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Alternatively, finely chop cilantro and mix by hand with the garlic, mayonnaise and lime juice.
  5. To serve: Place burgers on toasted buns, top with Garlic Cilantro Mayo and toppings of your choice.

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