Healthy Fast Food For Nights You Don’t Have Time To Cook

June 5, 2013   34 Comments

Snack Girl gets to hang out with some pretty accomplished Registered Dietitians.

Healthy Fast Food

These people (mostly women) are a force behind getting us to pay attention to what we eat. I met Ellie Krieger at a conference and got to ask her my burning question:

“What do you make for dinner when you don’t have time to make dinner?”

Krieger has a career as a Food Network chef and cookbook author, and a daughter, so I knew she would have a good answer.

”I always have frozen salmon in my freezer so I thaw it quickly in a bowl of warm water and bake it while I make a salad.”

Wow! That sounds good, except for the salmon part as it costs upwards of $10 per pound - and you shouldn’t buy farmed Atlantic salmon because of its environmental impact, nor should you eat it more than once a month because of contamination with PCB’s.

The problem here is that I didn’t get to ask Ellie what type of salmon she buys. I checked out Monterey Bay Aquarium Salmon Page and found that there are salmon fisheries that are considered healthy for the planet and produce contaminate-free fish.

Right about now, you are wondering why I just don’t buy wild salmon. I would, but then my children couldn’t attend college with parental funding. Fresh wild salmon is about $20 per pound at my local Whole Foods. I don’t want to be the harbinger of bad news, but our wild fisheries will probably be mostly gone in 20 years. Farmed fish is the way of the future and, unless I hit the lottery, I will be buying farmed salmon.

At my local Stop & Shop, they were selling farmed Atlantic salmon for $9 per pound (this is an AVOID from the Monterey Bay Aquarium) so I purchased Sockeye for $12, which is a BEST CHOICE.

Yes, this is expensive, but I don’t do it every night. The nice thing about fish is that if you are a single person, you can buy just what you need and cook it.

It is heart breakingly easy to cook salmon and I hope you will not be scared by the price tag. I serve it with salsa, or slices of avocado, a salad, and some nice bread. The meal is finished in 15 minutes depending on how long it takes your oven to heat up. I will walk in my door and turn on the oven before I do anything else to get in gear.

I put my fillets on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and cook for 10 minutes. My fish is still “pink” in the middle (not cooked through) and unlike pork you can leave it a bit raw because all the harmful bacteria are on the outside of the fish. If you like it opaque, leave it in the oven for another 3 minutes.

Ten minutes later, I have perfectly cooked salmon.

Do you eat salmon? How do you cook it?

Healthy Fast Food

Baked Salmon Recipe

5.0 from 1 review

Makes 4 servings

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4 5-ounce salmon fillets
olive oil or non-stick spray for coating pan


Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray or wipe with paper towel dipped in olive oil. Put fillets on pan, skin side down, and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10 minutes for medium doneness.

Nutrition Facts

292 calories, 17.5 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0.0 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 31.3 g protein, 0 g fiber, 104 mg sodium, 7 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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Salmon is my favorite!

on June 5, 2013

I dunno. I have quite the love/hate relationship with seafood. Salmon is the only one i'll eat but i must must MUST be in the mood or else it'll be cooked , wasted food. It seems I have unformal problems with many sources of protein that comes from animals... period. It's a spotty choice for me. I'll keep an eye out for other suggestions though.

on June 5, 2013

An alternative to salmon is haddock! I buy Orca Bay @ Target. Each piece is individually sealed within the large bag. They are too a bit pricey but worth it for the taste & for a quick meal. I mix olive oil & a couple of crushed up Ritz crackers & then back. Yum!

on June 5, 2013

I made some great white fish a few weeks ago. I roasted campari tomatoes (bought them because of your post on them) with thinly sliced onion, drizzled with a little olive oil. Then I topped them with fish filets, a drizzle of white wine, and baked. Served over quinoa and chopped kalamata olives - oh my was it good!

on June 5, 2013

It is a fast dinner! I fix mine pretty much the same except I brush the fish with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic salt and pepper.


on June 5, 2013

Love Salmon matter of fact took some out the freezer this morning for dinner.its not as expensive in my area for fresh salmon so I usually keep it in the house for a quick dinner before I go to the gym. Veggies on the side and go.

on June 5, 2013

I also cook salmon this way! Growing up in the eastern provinces in Canada, Atlantic salmon was a staple! A little olive oil, some fresh dill, some fresh cracked black pepper, a dash of sea salt and you have an excellent dinner. Cheers!

on June 5, 2013

Salmon is my favorite quick dinner fix. I can have grilled salmon and a large fresh salad on the table in less than 15 min. Makes me feel like superwoman after a long day at work.

on June 5, 2013

My fast food fish is tilapia. I buy a large frozen package where each filet is individually vacuum sealed. The fillets are thin so they thaw in minutes. I put a drizzle of olive oil in a nonstick frying pan, and sprinkles of fillets with onion and garlic powder and a little bit of Old Bay seasoning. They don't take much time at all, and are delicious with a salad. I like to make this in the summer when I don't want to turn on the oven.

on June 5, 2013

The recipe looks like it is probably great. But I wonder if you have one that doesn't involve fish or salmon? I have to be in the mood for that. And these days between both kids' summer activities and work, I like fast option varieties!

on June 5, 2013

Thanks for introducing the Monteray Bay Aquarium's website. I found a wealth of useful information there.

on June 5, 2013

I need alternatives to seafood for fast food.

My husband is allergic to seafood. Every fast meal or diets give seafood two or three nights a week. I can eat it but my husband cannot. I do not even cook it in my house.

on June 5, 2013

This is a great post! Even though the website is called "snack girl", fast and easy dinner entree ideas are much appreciated - thanks!

on June 5, 2013

I love salmon & agree that it is a perfect quick meal. My son LOVES salmon too! Although it can be expensive, I think of it in a cost vs benefit way & feel that I can work it into my meal plan very easily. I have also been trying to stick to meatless Mondays which is usually a lower cost meal that can offset the added expensive of fish later in the week. I also LOVE the recognition you provide to Registered Dietitians!! Thanks for the support!!

on June 5, 2013

I love salmon, and usually try to buy the wild Alaska salmon, per the type of recommendations that you referred to. It is not quite as expensive here as the prices you quote.

For a while, I was making it every Friday for my husband and I, but the thing that slowed me down was the fact frozen fish - no matter the type, has that fishy smell, and it is off putting to my husband. To counter it, it was necessary to soak the fish - I would do it in diet Sprite which worked well, but is like marinating and slows the preparation process down.

I found a bunch of great recipes online - one where you put salsa on top, etc, and used the microwave to cook. I also learned how to remove the skin prior to cooking, but maybe I was just making too much work for myself.

Still, I second your recommendation to research your fish - the farms, some at least, keep he fish in contaminated water no better than sewage, then fill them full of antibiotics.

on June 5, 2013

I also bake my salmon fillets in foil - using a large enough pice so that i can enclose the fish in the foil (or i just use a second sheet on top and seal that way. To cook, all alI do is spray a little olive oil on the foil, then place the fillets on top, then squeeze half a lemon over the fillets, sprinkle a bit of dry dill and then I lay a green onion on top. I close up the foil and bake for 20 minutes in pre-heated 425 degree oven. I end up with delicious, healthy and moist salmon fillets! I serve them with a salad usually, or veggies that I've steamed separately as the salmon bakes.

on June 5, 2013

My husband buys wild fresh salmon every Saturday from our local fish market and grills it every Sunday. Not sure where you live, but here in NJ it cost him $29.99 a lb. last weekend and it was worth every penny. He marinates it in A&P (America's Choice) brand Honey Teriyaki marinade. I marinate zucchini, eggplant, and asparagus in a little olive oil that he also grills. Then I make the salad with avocado, grapefruit segments, black olives, Trader Joe's fat free feta, and some sunflower seeds. There is no meal I look forward to more than our Sunday night tradition.

on June 5, 2013

Unfortunately "farmed" salmon (read: factory farmed) just doesn't have the same health benefits as wild salmon. It's MUCH lower in healthy Omega-3 fats and other nutrients.

Additionally, when you DO eat fish, you should pair it with lots of healthy fats such as coconut oil or real butter. Otherwise those nutrients will go right through you, literally. It's a waste! That's why low-fat foods are no good.

on June 5, 2013

I wash the salmon, sprinkle it with McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning, then bake it @ 450 for 20 minutes - delicious, moist and flavorful. I usually make enough so that we can have a second meal, serving it cold with or in a salad.

on June 5, 2013

Grilling even makes it more mess free! We grill 12 months out of the year and it is my husband's part of the meal prep. I do the planning and sides. The salmon is great because he can start it right when he comes home and I can have the rest ready. And the kids are starting to eat (without complaint) more of this kind of food. I guess they are tired of going hungry!

on June 5, 2013

Now that it is warm enough to BBQ outside, I grill my salmon in tin foil. I lay it over sliced zucchini and lemons, sprinkle dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice over it and then wrap it up in the tin foil. It comes out so delicious, juicy and soft--it practically falls apart when the fork goes in. Just had it last night for dinner and I made an extra for tonight. Can't wait!

on June 5, 2013

Neither my husband nor myself like salmon at all -- too strong-tasting for us. We do like tilapia and most white fish and we also love swordfish -- made into kebobs and grilled. Delish!

on June 5, 2013

Try Harris Teeter (great seafood, great sales), and Wegmans has frozen wild salmon. At whole foods consider canned salmon if you're going to have it with salad - wish I remembered the name, but there's one brand there that's BPA free and wild caught. Farmed just isn't worth it. Oh, and never do tilapia - it's cheap because its almost always farmed, eats crap, and is super high in omega 6.

on June 5, 2013

I love that you consider the environmental impact and not just the nutrition value and cost. I am not a fish person, but since I have been vegetarian for about 5 yrs, I have an excuse and no longer have to just say "I don't like fish".

on June 5, 2013

I love salmon especially sushi, but it is expensive!

on June 5, 2013

Costco sells frozen Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon in a 48 oz. bag for around $28-30. (kirkland label) There are 8-10 (5-7 oz) individually vacuum- sealed, boneless, flash frozen pieces in a bag. It's great as you can pull out what just what you need. We have been using these for at least 5 years & they are delicious. It is seasonal though, so watch for it and pick up a few bags to keep in the freezer. Costco also does Halibut, Orange Roughy etc, it is a great value. I am sure Sam's would have something comparable.

on June 5, 2013

My favorite way is to grill it after I brush it with balsamic vinegar and honey with garlic powder on it.

on June 5, 2013

I recommend convection cooking. I'd never owned a convection oven before taking a chance last year on a 2nd-hand flea-market convection oven for which I paid an affordable $8. I never cease to be amazed at how beautifully it cooks salmon, talapia, chicken, etc. I use a Pyrex dish, spraying it, then topping fish/chicken with seasonings and covering before baking on 325 (or 350, if I'm impatient) for 10-15 minutes, depending on preferred doneness. It takes less time than regular baking or stove-top grilling, and the results are always moist & flavorful. =)

on June 5, 2013

Farm raised Salmon is also dangerous because the chemicals they use to make the fish pink cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. My niece had a severe reaction to it a few years ago.

on June 5, 2013

i'm visiting Scotland at the moment. They get really good salmon here so will be trying this out!

on June 9, 2013

great recipe. I also love smoked salmon though.. You can eat that straight out of the packet. I just flake it into things like scrambled eggs or pasta etc.

on June 15, 2013

My oven seriously takes at least 30 minutes to heat up and get to 350 (it's electric and I live in an appartment, until I move...there's no changing this). If I get it to're looking at about 35-40 min.

Is there any other "quick meal" that's alternative to salmon for dinner that can be done in around 15-20min that doesn't require an oven or grill (appartments don't allow grills)?

on June 25, 2013

Lauren, salmon can be cooked in the microwave oven. I found some nice and easy recipes online - it does not take long, and you don't heat the house. Just do a search for "salmon in the microwave" and you will get lots of sites to visit!

on July 10, 2013

Whole foods has a vegan fish filet by a company called "Vegetarian Plus."

I normally don't eat stuff like that, but they were passing out samples a few years ago. I love it--and so do my kids.

Try it out! They are 1/4 the price of salmon and would work with your recipe. They can even be microwaved if needed--my kids like them this way/ i think they are gross in the microwave.

on April 1, 2016

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