Let me be real with y'all: I hate cooking. Every part of it. I hate grocery shopping, prepping, the actual cooking part, and cleaning up. I get so disappointed when I go through all the effort to try a new recipe, follow the directions perfectly, and what I get is meh.
But eating healthy is important to me because it helps me feel my best and fuels my athletic performance. In addition to working here at UVA Health, writing about healthcare, I'm a certified fitness instructor. For the purposes of this post, I define healthy eating as getting a good mix of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Here are my tips to eat healthy without cooking — or at least cooking very little.
Bowls: A Healthy No-Cook Meal
Try making a bowl. All you need is:
- A whole grain, like brown rice, farro, or quinoa
- Vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, edamame
- A protein, like beans, tofu, or chicken
- Any nuts or seeds or sauces
Here's one I like:
- Brown rice — I make a large batch ahead of time in my Instant Pot
- Broccoli — steamed in the microwave
- Tofu — prepackaged and seasoned
- Teriyaki sauce
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Salads: Just Assemble & Eat
Salads add another way to eat healthy without cooking. You just need:
- Salad greens
- Any combination of vegetables
- Protein, like tofu, chicken, canned chickpeas, or hard-boiled eggs
- Any nuts or seeds you like
- Light dressing
One of my favorites:
- Chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken
- Goat cheese
- Light raspberry vinaigrette dressing
Wraps: More Than Another Boring Sandwich
A wrap is another way to mix things up and eat healthy without cooking. Just get:
- Whole-grain wraps
- Fresh veggies
- Protein, like beans or precooked poultry
- Guacamole, hummus, light dressing, or sauce
An easy one I like:
- Romaine lettuce
- Parmesean cheese
- Light Caesar dressing
Find a Few Easy Things to Cook
I know. This is supposed to be "eat healthy without cooking." But hear me out. You can round things out by picking a few quick, easy meals you don't mind cooking. And they can be budget-friendly, too.
One of mine is scrambled eggs, wheat toast, and a side of fruit. Another is oatmeal. I cook it in the microwave and add:
- A little salt
- Drizzle of honey
Stock Up on These Things
One key to eat healthy without cooking is to stock up on easy-to-grab healthy foods:
- Wheat crackers
- Fruits and veggies (Frozen and canned still provide good nutrition)
- Rotisserie chicken
- Canned beans
- Whole grains (you can get these precooked)
- Greek yogurt
- Nut butters
- Nuts and seeds
- Light dressings and sauces
Bottom Line: Don't Make Yourself Cook If You Hate It
I felt a lot of relief when I quit trying to force myself to get into cooking. I've accepted that I don't want to and I can still eat healthy without cooking. Eating this way gives me more time and energy for other healthy habits, like spending as much time at the gym as I want and taking time for self-care and stress relief.
I enjoy the articles on the UVA Health blog. Almost every time there are at least one or more articles that I find either interesting or pertinent to my health. Thank you!