Hungry Girl’s Grab-and-Go Kitchen Essentials

TV host, author and "foodologist" Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien has made a career out of making your favorite dishes with half the fat and fewer calories. See the 5 grab-and-go essentials she swears by, plus discover her must-have kitchen tools to create the meals you love!

Posted on | By Lisa Lillien

Love to eat but hate to diet? It can seem all but impossible to find the time in your busy day to shop, cook and eat right. Streamline your schedule with Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien’s strategies to take the guesswork out of dinner. The best part? Lisa has dedicated her life to finding ways to eat and enjoy healthier versions of her favorite foods, so you and your family will be sure to love her tasty meals.

Get a sneak peek into Lisa’s pantry and see her five secret weapons to save you time, boost the flavor of your meals, and cut calories. Then, as an added bonus, discover her must-have kitchen tools to cook a fast, stress-free, and delicious dinner.

Hungry Girl’s Grab-and-Go Essentials


1. Taco and Ranch Seasoning Mix

When you’re looking to punch up your flavor, a little bit of these packets go a long way. Use the low-sodium varieties of these seasonings to make substitutes in high-calorie dips and dressings.

Taco seasoning isn’t just for Mexican food! This seasoning also makes the perfect addition to breading for faux-fried foods.

Use the ranch seasoning to create a low-calorie version of the creamy dips you love. Just add a bit to reduced-fat Greek yogurt, reduced-fat mayo or reduced-fat sour cream – you’ll have a delicious and guilt-free dip or dressing.

2. Canned Fruits and Veggies

Canned foods can actually be quite nutritious! Just make sure you’re choosing the best options: Pick fruits packaged in their own juices rather than syrups full of added sugar. For veggies, avoid those packed in oil; choose those packed in water instead.

3. Canned Crushed Tomatoes

Fat-free and low in calories and sugar, crushed tomatoes are a Hungry Girl must-have. Use this option instead of marinara sauce or jarred pizza or pasta sauces. No need to spend extra time or money making a homemade sauce, this canned staple will keep things healthy and simple.

Use this essential in Hungry Girl’s Sloppy Jane recipe.

4. Shelf-Stable Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk 

Lisa uses this grab-and-go essential as her go-to milk. At only 40 calories for a full cup, this milk alternative contains less than half the calories of skim milk, plus it doesn’t risk spoiling quickly. Rich and creamy, use this unsweetened milk in your oatmeal, cereal, smoothie, or even bake with it!

5. Cocoa Powder Packets

Your chocolate craving just got a guilt-free pass. At only 25 calories per packet, cocoa powder isn’t just for hot chocolate. Use these packets for baked goods, smoothies and desserts for a boost of chocolaty goodness.

Now that you have your essential ingredients, see how to make the most out of them. Hungry Girl reveals the only two kitchen items you need to make a stress-free meal. Make your dinner quickly and efficiently with these tools.

Tool #1: Heavy-duty Aluminum Foil

Just one roll of this stuff can make even the biggest kitchen klutz feel like a top chef. The secret is a foil pack. Simply lay a large piece of foil on a baking sheet, coat with nonstick spray, place your ingredients evenly in the center of the foil, fold over, and seal off all four edges into a packet. Your food will bake quickly and evenly in the oven, and your family will be left applauding your culinary prowess. And even better – there’s no clean up!

Try Lisa’s foil pack cooking method to make this delicious Spinach Artichoke Chicken recipe.

Tool #2: A Crock-Pot

If you can never find the time to whip up a healthy dinner, meet your new best friend – the crock-pot! Cooking in a crock-pot couldn’t be easier. Add your ingredients, set it and forget it.

Use this kitchen all-star tool to whip-up Hungry Girl’s Slow Cookin’ Mexican Beef.

Article written by Lisa Lillien
TV host, author and "foodologist"