Formula Meals: Simple Stir Fry


If you’re like me, you pass on recipes with long ingredient lists and complex cooking methods.  You won’t find me making a soufflé or poached eggs anytime soon. That’s definitely going to end in tears.

I’m really all about simple, easy food. I may not use common ingredients (I love my kelp noodles, miso paste and cocoa nibs) but my style of cooking is still simple.  Many of my clients get caught up in the complexities of dinner prep. If I had a dime for each person who told me they don’t make salad because of the prep time, well…I’d have enough dimes to buy this cute salad bowl.

So what is it about cooking that makes you crazy? Is it not having everything you need on hand? Is it a lack of confidence in the kitchen? Is it not knowing what to make?  Well, I can’t fix everything today, but I can help you keep it simple. How?

Formula Meals.

So many dishes out there are just variations on a theme. Once you figure out the “template” being used, you can sub-in anything you want to create easy weeknight meals in minutes.

Take a smoothie, for example. Pretty straightforward, right?  You mix about 1 cup of liquid with 1 cup of fruit and then you’ve got your add-ins:  a little fat (think flaxseed or peanut butter), some protein (like Greek yogurt, protein powder or hemp seed) and maybe some greens, too if you’ve done my detox. Then you just blend ‘er up and you’ve got yourself a delicious shake. You can’t really mess this up, right?

Well, that same principle applies to many other meals, too. I’ve written about my chili before, so today let’s look at another staple, stir fry. Many people are intimidated by this simple dish.


 This awesome photo is reprinted with permission from and If you click it, it will take you to the recipe!

What’s the Formula?

Here’s the fun part. Once you learn the formula for making stir-fry, there’s really no recipe required. You just repeat the formula again and again, using what you have on hand. Once you master this, you can whip up a mean stir fry in a moment’s notice for easy weeknight meals. You can even keep a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies or shrimp in the freezer for when you really have no food in the house.

2-3 parts veggie: choose from broccoli, snap peas, bok choy, asparagus, corn, Brussels sprouts, carrots, diced eggplant, garlic, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, parsnips, turnip, kale, green beans, peas, sprouts, celery, etc.

1 part grain: choose from white rice, brown rice, wild rice, rice noodles, udon noodles, vermicelli, etc.

1 part protein: choose from chicken, shrimp, ground turkey, ground beef, strip steak, tofu, tempeh, scrambled egg, etc.

Always the same: oil, soy sauce/tamari, water/broth, vinegar, salt and pepper

Optional toppings: sliced green onions, sesame seeds, chili flakes, lime juice, avocado slices, fresh herbs

You don’t need a wok either. Just chop the veggies into similar sizes and toss them together with some hot oil. Start with the veggies that take longest to cook. Then add in your protein and the sauce ingredients.  You can use the store bought stir-fry sauce or make your own. And finally mix it all together with your grain of choice! I like to top with lime juice and green onions, but you can sprinkle on whatever you like!

As I mentioned, once you do this a few times, you’ll know how much of each ingredient you like. As with anything, practice makes perfect, right? So don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t come out amazing, you learn something from every kitchen mistake and you get more and more confident each time.

What’s your favorite stir-fry combination? I love the one above from The Clean Dish. She uses two of my favorites — kelp noodles and tempeh! YUM!

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Mix it with some ground beef or turkey for an Indian Goulash […]

  2. […] peanut butter or avocado toast. Use as a garnish on soup and sprinkle onto Asian-style salads or stir fry. You can also top muffins and rolls with sesame seeds before […]

  3. […] Formula Meals from dietitian Danielle Omar. She shares a basic template – like this Simple Stir Fry – and […]

  4. […] Formula Meals time again folks and today we are making easy-peasey breakfast egg muffins! These super versatile […]

  5. […] I’ve blogged about fermentation before and I’m a huge fan. I love adding naturally fermented foods to my diet. This smoky tempeh with quinoa was inspired by a delicious cauliflower rice stir fry I made earlier in the week. I love the whole stir fry concept. It’s so easy  – you really can’t screw it up. If you’re not sure how to stir fry, read this post. […]

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