Eat take-away all your life and your take-away will literally take your life away.
Are you a busy parent or student who doesn’t have the time to cook nutritious meals at the end of a long day? Don’t opt for choices you’ll regret. Plan for dietary success by having the following three meals available the next time that cheeseburger or TV dinner is calling your name.
Okay, so these recipes aren’t as effortless as driving through McDonald’s. Or slamming down a row of Oreos for dinner. However, I guarantee they won’t cause you to feel guilty afterwards.
All of the following ideas require some preparation. But it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy, nutritious meal without preparing at least a little bit. These recipes demand the least amount of work possible in order to create a nutritious meal your body, mind and waistline will thank you for.
My favorite method of cooking is using a pressure cooker. Better than a microwave, it makes cooking easy, convenient and nutritious. See more of my top tools for cooking.
1. Refried Beans
Have an onion, some garlic, a can of kidney beans and a can of diced tomatoes? You’re only a hop, skip and a jump away from a warm bowl of refried beans. I personally don’t use canned beans for refried beans, I cook mine in a pressure cooker after sprouting them from dry. But a can of no salt added or low sodium beans is better than a can of Chef Boyardee or no beans at all.
How to prepare this meal:
- Prepare this meal by cooking your beans (if using sprouted or dry), mashing them and setting them aside.
- Slice your onion and garlic, dry sauté them in a nonstick pan until they’ve caramelized. No oil please!
- Add a tablespoon or two of liquid to deglaze the fry pan. Water will do but I prefer a flavored vinegar for flavor depth.
- Add your diced tomatoes and beans and Latin spices. Be extensive or as minimalistic as you desire with your spices. I normally add paprika, cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, parsley and black pepper.
If you have the time, kick up the nutrition. Add a cooked vegetable to the refried beans such as carrot, bell pepper or some fresh or frozen spinach. Make it a meal by eating the refried beans with cooked brown rice. I prefer to soak/sprout mine beforehand.
2. Stir Fry
I always keep three items stocked in my kitchen:
- cooked brown rice
- fresh carrots
- some sort of green vegetable in the freezer.
With a spice cabinet and your trusty aromatic friends (onion and garlic), create a simple stir-fry with all of the ingredients mentioned. (See what other staples I stock in my kitchen.)
Start a vegetable stir fry the same way as the refried beans: chop onion and garlic, sauté, deglaze. Add your veggies, spices and enough liquid to cook your chosen veggies.
The beauty of a stir fry is that you can have it every night of the week without it seeming as if you are eating the same meal over and over again because of vegetable and spice variety. Whip up a spicy carrot and green bean stir fry one night. The following night you may decide on a sweet carrot and spinach stir fry. Another option is a savory green bean and spinach stir fry.
If you aren’t the type of person that can manage fresh produce, consider buying bags of frozen veggies. You can buy bags of one, two or multiple varieties of frozen vegetables. They almost never have added salt. I love how effortless they are to throw into a meal.
3. Bread and __
Many people believe that bread is unhealthy. It’s the latest fad.
However, bread can be part of a well-balanced diet. Just ensure the bread is minimally processed, contains unrefined grains and has a minimal amount of additives and preservatives.
If you aren’t able to do so, the second-best option is to buy wholegrain bread that doesn’t contain added sugar or fat. Actually check ingredient labels to determine if breads are truly wholegrain. Most breads marketed as wholegrain include refined grains. Added sugar and fat contribute empty non-nutritious calories to our diet. Who wants those?
Avoid topping your bread with high fat choices such as butter, margarine, cheese and meat. Opt for plant-strong options. Examples include blended fruit, cooked veggies and beans. They all add meaningful amounts of nutrition to your body.
The ultimate tool
If you’re serious about eating healthy with minimal effort, I strongly encourage you to buy a pressure cooker.
Easy meals are doable without a pressure cooker. They can be made quicker and more nutritious if you have a pressure cooker in your kitchen. A quality pressure cooker is an investment. Rob and I paid around $100 for our Futura pressure cooker. But you can cook a crazy amount of meals in less than 30 minutes with a pressure cooker.
I can attest it’s definitely worth the money. Rob and I use ours at least once per day. Most days more.
There you have it! If you need a meal for yourself or a family of 4 in a flash, remember these options. All of these meals can be tasty, filling and nutritious with minimal time and effort required.
What are your too-busy-to-cook meals? Let me know in the comments below!