9 Meal Ideas For When You're Just Too Tired To Cook
Some days you come home from a long day at work, and it's literally all you can do to stop yourself from reaching for the takeout menu. And on days like these, some solid ways to eat healthy when you're tired can be a game-changer.
On her healthy eating website Skinny Chef, certified health expert Jennifer Iserloh said that ordering in because you're too tired to cook is one of the biggest ways people sabotage their health goals and their wallets. You could have made a dozen healthy or cost-efficient choices all day, and it can all be wasted with a single dinner order, that with tax and tip, could amount to almost $20 a meal.
And I'm no stranger to this cycle. I've spent years of my life spending way (like, way) too much on food simply because I've felt too busy at work. So ironically, I would stay at work to earn money, only to waste money because I was so burned out from work. And for some reason in my mind there was only ever two choices: order in, or eat something totally bland and non-nutritious. It never occurred to me that there are genuinely simple, healthy, and good-tasting meals that also take under ten minutes to prepare.
If you're overworked and struggling with making food for yourself, here are nine meal ideas for when you're tired that will revolutionize your life.
1. Whole Grain Bowls
In a piece for Kitchn on recipes for when you're too tired to cook, recipe developer and cookbook author Megan Gordon recommended what she calls "whole grain bowls." She said to just boil up whatever grains you have on hand, like rice or quinoa, and throw it in a bowl with herbs, a little salty cheese, and a runny egg. "For a heartier dinner, I'll often toss in some chickpeas or lentils as well," she said.
Gordon also recommended keeping whole wheat tortillas on hand and just making a simple burrito or wrap when you need to make something nutritious and filling with minimal effort. "If you have tortillas, beans and cheese on hand, a simple dinner is doable." And if you have the energy, you can always quickly cook some chopped chicken or steak in a pan for added protein.
If you have a can of tuna, some mayo, onions, and a couple pieces of bread, you've got yourself a meal. Former professional cook Christine Skopec also recommended a breadless tuna salad recipe on Cheat Sheet for someone who isn't eating gluten or just doesn't have any bread left.
4. English Muffin Pizza
Skopec also recommended a super simple pizza recipe that uses store bought naan instead of pizza dough, but I've gone a step further and am just going to suggest a regular old English muffin base. Just throw on some tomato sauce and cheese and any toppings you may have in your fridge and cook it in the toaster oven for a few minutes.
5. Avocado On Toast
On her website The Health Session, life coach and healthy living blogger Jennifer Mulder suggested avocado on whole grain toast. It's not only literally as easy as making a PB+J, but it will provide you with super healthy fats and minerals. And if you're extra hungry, just add an egg on top.
6. Breakfast For Dinner
Mulder also recommended just whipping up breakfast for dinner. An omelette is a super fast and easy way to get a relatively healthy meal, and there's technically no reason you can only eat them in the morning! Add some veggies or an avocado for added quick nutrition.
This is a tip I personally swear by. Put some cheese in a whole wheat tortilla, throw it in the microwave or toaster oven, and you're done. If you're feeling ambitious, add some black beans and chicken, or toss on some sour cream and salsa on top.
8. Mac & Cheese With Greek Yogurt
Spoon University recommended simply adding some greek yogurt to your mac and cheese for an instant easy dinner upgrade. It not only tastes more gourmet, but it packs more protein and probiotics.
9. Keep Basics On Hand
This final one isn't exactly a recipe, but rather a useful tip. Trent Hamm, founder of the lifestyle site The Simple Dollar, recommended always keeping basic ingredients on hand so that you can always throw together a decent meal without doing any real cooking. He specifically suggested picking up a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week, as well as keeping staples like whole grain bread in your freezer. Some rotisserie chicken over spinach with a piece of whole grain toast literally takes less than five minutes to prepare and will definitely satisfy.
A healthy and satisfying meal doesn't necessarily have to take an hour or more to prepare after a long day of work. If you have a few basic staples you can literally be eating within ten minutes of walking in the door, and bonus— there's often no actual cooking required.