Some quick and high-protein meals for when you forget to thaw meat 

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Chickpea, chicken, or tuna salad sandwiches 

All of these main components come out of a can! Just make sure to drain the can first. Having canned chicken, tuna, and chickpeas on hand is always recommended. You can eat these salads on toasted bread;, sourdough works best. 

Chickpea salad sandwiches: Empty the can into a bowl and start mashing before you add any other ingredients. You can add any variety of vegetables;, chickpeas are very versatile in this way. Some of my favorites are diced bell peppers, cucumbers, or olives. Add some Greek yogurt to the mashed chickpeas and vegetables, as well as some salt, pepper, dill or lemon pepper. 

Tuna salad sandwiches: Split the tuna up a bit with a fork, then add green onions and lots of everything but the bagel seasoning. You can also add pickled pepperoncini, pickles, or fresh white or purple onions. Mix together with two big spoonfuls of mayo.  

Chicken salad sandwiches: There are so many different varieties of chicken salad! You can also make this out of the last bits and pieces of rotisserie chicken. Adding crispy apples or grapes and then some celery can add texture and a delicious flavor. Mix with a splash of soy sauce, garlic powder, and mayo.  

Vegetarian chili 

If you have beans on hand — especially a bean mixture — you can make a quick vegetarian chili. Beans are good for you and high in protein! Just sauté some onions and garlic. Once soft, add cumin and chili so it gets lighty toasted. Add your drained can of beans, about a cup of tomato sauce, and two tablespoons of tomato paste. If you want it to be a bit soupier, you can add ¼-½ cup of water. I like adding a bit of salsa for a kick. 

Homemade mac and cheese 

Cheese is very high in protein. Make a quick roux with butter and flour and then add your milk (about a cup and a half) and lots of cheese. A mixture of cheese is the most flavorful, but if you only have cheddar, this will still taste great and be filling. Add in whatever cooked noodles you have on hand! 


Bibimbap is a Korean egg and rice dish that has a spicy gochujang sauce. Cook up a serving of rice. Then sauté carrots, onions, spinach, and any other vegetables you are feeling. Fry two eggs and then load up your rice with your vegetables, sauce, and the eggs. 

RecipeTin Eats has exact measurements for the bibimbap sauce, which can be helpful if you have never made the sauce before. If you do not have gochujang paste on hand, making eggs and rice with some vegetables is a great alternative to this! 

Pasta salad 

Pasta salad has so many variations, but to get protein in yours, I recommend adding both salami and cheese cubes. For a vegan or vegetarian option, chickpeas are a great substitution! Cook your noodles — spirals are best, but just like mac and cheese, it really does not matter. Add whatever vegetables you have on hand. Peppers, olives, tomatoes and broccoli (which is high in iron) are some classic options. Vegetables that are high in water, such as cucumber, are better than starchier squashes. Drizzle with your favorite Italian salad dressing or olive oil and an Italian spice mix!