When it comes to eating well, the energy required to cook is at least half the battle. Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN is the author of From Burnout to Balance, a book of recipes and strategies designed to combat the symptoms of burnout, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, weakened immunity and disrupted sleep. We loved her helpful list of eighteen no cook dinner ideas so much, we asked her to share them here with you..
With a fully stocked, organized kitchen, healthy meals truly can come together in minutes. There are those nights when cooking is simply not going to happen! Don’t force it. You need to lighten your load to focus on wellness, which often means doing less. That’s where these nearly no-cook dinner ideas come in. These are quick-assembly dinners that make use of the pantry and freezer staples from your list above. (Be sure to read packaging for specific preparation instructions.)
18 Nearly No-Cook Dinner Ideas
1. Quick Bean & Cheese Quesadilla
Top whole wheat tortillas with shredded Monterey jack cheese and drained canned black beans; fold in half; toast in a hot skillet; top with prepared guacamole.
2. Easy Tuna Soft Tacos
Fill warm corn or wheat tortillas with drained canned flaked tuna; top with slaw mix (or shredded cabbage), prepared guacamole, store-bought pico de gallo or salsa, and fresh cilantro.
3. Pesto Pasta Salad
Cook farfalle or rotini pasta, rinse with cold water or toss with ice, then drain; toss cooled pasta with prepared pesto, fresh baby spinach, chopped walnuts, and a squirt of lemon; serve with a boiled or deviled egg.
4. Mediterranean Snack Board with Veggies
On a wooden cutting board or a platter, arrange raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, hummus, olives, figs, feta cheese, and fresh whole-grain pita wedges.
5. Salmon Supper
Roast or pan-grill a frozen salmon fillet; serve with microwavable brown rice and a mixed green side salad dressed with lemon and olive oil; sprinkle everything with sliced almonds.
6. Plant-Based Burger & Fries
Prepare a fresh or frozen plant-based burger; serve on a whole-grain bun with lettuce, tomato, and your favorite condiments; serve with oven-baked frozen sweet potato fries or a microwave-baked sweet potato.
7. Lentil Soup & Crusty Bread
Simmer store-bought organic carrot lentil soup or other vegetarian lentil soup; top with a dollop of prepared pesto; serve with a piece of crusty whole-grain baguette and a small bunch of grapes.
8. Pizza Night
Bake frozen vegetarian cauliflower-crust pizza; serve with sautéed fresh zucchini coins; enjoy with fresh watermelon or other melon.
9. Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Lightly sprinkle thin-sliced whole-grain bread with part-skim mozzarella, form a sandwich, brush with olive oil, and toast in a skillet; simmer store-bought organic tomato soup to serve alongside.
10. Savory Oatmeal
Prepare oatmeal with vegetable broth; stir in fresh baby spinach and sliced sun-dried tomatoes; sprinkle with goat cheese or top with a fried egg; serve with lemon wedges.
11. Shrimp Stir-Fry
Stir-fry peeled deveined shrimp, fresh pre-sliced mushrooms, and frozen veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) in sunflower oil in a wok or large sauté pan; toss with bottled natural stir-fry sauce to heat; serve over microwavable ancient grains.
12. Spaghetti & “Meatballs” & More
Prepare fresh or frozen plant-based meatballs and cook spaghetti; toss meatballs and spaghetti with store-bought marinara sauce and fresh baby kale or spinach until greens are wilted; sprinkle with nutritional yeast flakes.
13. Lentil Salad Bowl
Toss drained canned lentils with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and mint, quartered grape tomatoes, and thinly sliced scallions; season with sea salt and garlic powder; dress with lemon juice and olive oil; sprinkle with optional feta cheese.
14. Soup & Sides
Simmer store-bought organic sweet potato soup; serve with sides of microwavable brown rice and steamed frozen broccoli with tamari or soy sauce to taste; pair with pistachios or peanuts.
15. Savory Greek Yogurt Bowl
Serve plain Greek yogurt in a bowl topped with diced English cucumber and olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, pomegranate arils, and fresh mint leaves; serve with multigrain pita chips and a lemon wedge.
16. “Chicken & Waffles”
Prepare plant-based breaded “chicken” strips for nuggets; prepare frozen wholegrain waffles; serve “chicken” on waffles and drizzle lightly with maple syrup; pair with peaches or berries.
17. Mediterranean Snack Board with Fruit
On a wooden cutting board or a platter, arrange grapes, orange wedges, dates, goat cheese, pistachios, radishes, canned sardines in olive oil, and flatbreads or crusty whole-grain baguette slices.
18. Curry Tuna Salad Wrap
Stir drained canned tuna with mayonnaise, curry powder, diced red onion, raisins, and fresh cilantro; wrap in a whole-grain tortilla with mixed baby greens and a squirt of lime juice.
Adapted from FROM BURNOUT TO BALANCE copyright © 2022 by Patricia Bannan. Used by permission of Rodale Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.