Let’s face it. As much as you love experimenting in the kitchen, some nights you just don’t want to cook. Whether it’s because you’ve had a long day or it’s too hot to turn on the oven, the last thing you want is to be in the kitchen.
On those nights, how do you make sure you’re still making healthy choices instead of calling for take-out or a frozen dinner?
Registered dietitian Mary Ellen Phipps says that the key to those just-don’t-wanna-cook days is planning ahead. “Prep some staples about once a week,” she says. “Roast a couple pans of veggies. Hard boil some eggs. Sauté some onions and garlic. You can then add these to salads, yogurt bowls, and sweet potatoes.”
Phipps also recommends keeping shelf-stable options on hand like wild-caught canned tuna, all-natural peanut butter, yoghurt, and high-quality condiments.
And, to make sure that whatever you do throw together keeps you full, make sure to include a couple of key items. “Always aim to get in some lean protein, carbs, veggies, and healthy fats with your meal to help keep you satisfied,” says registered dietitian Alanna Waldron.
We asked Phipps, Waldron, and a few other nutritionists for their go-to lazy meals. Here are seven ideas—one for every day of the week!
“Tuna salad is as easy as mixing some stuff up in a bowl,” says Phipps. Typically, she combines a can of wild-caught tuna with avocado-oil mayonnaise and a big handful of broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprout slaw.
“You can even add in some smashed avocado and then season with onion powder, salt, and pepper,” she says. Or swap the tuna for canned salmon and you get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Voila! You have a protein and fiber-rich meal.
PEANUT ASIAN RICE BOWL
While you may think that convenience or ready-to-eat food aren’t the best options, there are some healthy choices out there. This peanut Asian rice bowl is case and point. “It’s ready in 10 minutes and uses items from the freezer and pantry,” says registered dietitian Judy Barbe like pre-cooked rice, frozen vegetables, and a spicy peanut sauce. Talk about super easy when you aren’t in the mood to make something from scratch.
One of the easiest meals are catch-all salads , says Lauren Manganiello, R.D.N. “This is the perfect healthy yet lazy meal because you can literally add anything you have on hand to a salad including leftovers, nuts and seeds, canned items such as beans or tuna, and fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables,” she says. “It’s a great way to be creative as well as get some variety in the sometimes-boring salad.” Manganiello likes to top hers with a simple maple-dijon vinaigrette.
What’s an easier dinner than scrambled eggs? Waldron mixes hers with sautéed greens (kale, spinach, or whatever she has on hand), garbanzo beans, and any leftover roasted veggies. “Everything cooks up in one pan and is highly satisfying,” she says. Craving more toppings? Try adding avocado, hummus, or salsa.
SALMON ZUCCHINI LINGUINI
This salmon-zucchini linguini makes an easy last-minute meal. “I love this because it uses canned salmon, a nutrient-packed ingredient you can keep on the shelf in case of emergency,” says Barbe. Barbe also says canned fish offers the same health benefits, like omega-3 fatty acids, as fresh fish. If you’re not a zucchini fan, you can always sub it out for another veggie.
SWEET POTATO BOWL
One of Phipps’ go-to meals is a sweet potato bowl. She steams a sweet potato in the microwave (put it in a glass dish with a lid and microwave for six to seven minutes) and tops it with an egg, and green veggies (frozen works great). Sometimes she adds some bacon, too. Easy peasy.
Everyone loves avocado toast, and for good reason. You can top it any way you want, it’s filling, and it feels like you’re indulging. Plus, what’s easier than toasting some bread? “Top toast with mashed avocado, fried egg, and/or smoked salmon with sea salt and black pepper,” says Waldron. “I will usually pair this with sautéed greens.”
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