By Michelle Murdolo, MS, RD, CDN
Sometimes cooking is just not an option. Maybe you’re going through a home renovation, you don’t have a lot of space, you’re traveling, or maybe you just don’t like to cook! Whatever the reason, there are still ways to make sure your body is getting all the nutrition it needs. There are plenty of tips and tricks for preparing nutritious meals with little to no cooking or prepping. Having a microwave on hand or other small appliances such as a toaster oven, air fryer, mini fridge (if you don’t have access to your full-sized fridge), hot plate, and electric kettle to heat water quickly, can be extremely helpful.
For protein, many supermarkets sell pre-cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken or refrigerated and packaged) that you can use for your meals. A salad kit and some pre-cooked chicken make a great (and super easy) meal. You can also purchase veggie burgers (which can be eaten as a burger or also cut up and added to meals), cheese, protein shakes, pre-cooked eggs and more. Bagged salads, easy to heat protein and frozen veggies can become staples. Below are some meal and snack ideas for when cooking is not an option.
- Single serve oatmeal cups (heat and go!) – you can eat as is or add fruit, nut butters, etc.
- Greek yogurt – you can add some fruit and a sprinkle of granola
- Protein shakes
- Pre-cooked hardboiled eggs
- Microwave poached egg – for either kind of egg you can add a side of fruit or even avocado toast if you have access to a toaster
- Grab a salad kit and just add protein of your choice
- Precooked chicken + frozen vegetables that you can steam in the microwave. You can also add a sweet potato (which can be cooked in the microwave), brown rice (some stores sell pre-cooked frozen rice), or other starch of your choice.
- Tuna packets to make tuna salad
- Low sodium cold cuts (to create a sandwich, put on a salad, etc.)
- Any kind of fruit – you can also purchase pre-cut or frozen
- Cheese sticks
- Single serve packets nuts or nut butters
- Pre-cooked eggs
- Hummus and veggies
Use your creativity and work with what you have. Different appliances can provide even more options for creating meals. Research recipes based on the appliances that are available to you. And remember – every single day and every single meal does not have to be perfect. It’s what you do most of the time that counts.
Michelle Murdolo, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist working to guide patients through their Bariatric surgery and Weight Management journey. She comes from a background of eating disorders and disordered eating and emphasizes body positivity and health at every size.