Super-Easy Eats When You Have Absolutely No Time to Cook

Super-easy meals can be a bit tricky when you eat a whole foods, plant-based, no oil diet. You can’t just run to a fast-food place, and most frozen meals are out as well (although you can now order healthy ones online*). So what to do when you have absolutely no time to cook or prepare anything complicated, but a hummus sandwich just won’t do?

While eating my lunch the other day, I realized that I need to share what I do when there’s “nothing” in the fridge. The hungrier you are, the greater the temptation to eat something less than optimal, especially when healthy choices are not easily available. It’s at those times that we’re most likely to stumble. As Lindsay Nixon (aka the Happy Herbivore) says: "The only way I avoid temptation is by having a better alternative on hand that I truly want."

These combinations may seem crazy, but when you are faced with hunger, you need some healthy sustenance that will take that hunger away fast. Look no further than your freezer and pantry! I make sure to always keep “stock” items in the freezer, fridge and pantry. As soon as a stock item gets low, it immediately goes back on the shopping list. Here’s what I usually have on hand:

  • Canned black beans (Costco sells 15-oz. cans in packs of 12)

  • Canned chickpeas or other beans (Smith’s sells Simple Truth organic chickpeas and several other kinds of beans)

  • Frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas & green beans) in 1-lb. bag.

  • Frozen corn in 1-lb. bag.

  • Frozen peas in 1-lb. bag.

  • Frozen lima beans.

  • Frozen spinach (Trader Joe’s has both organic & no-pesticide conventional) in 1-lb. bag.

  • Salsa (Trader Joe’s has several jarred salsas w/out preservatives).

  • Sweet potatoes. Microwave a fresh one or cook/bake and freeze a whole bag at a time.

  • Potatoes. Microwave a fresh one or cook/bake and freeze a whole bag at a time.

  • Brown, black or red rice (cook a large potful and keep it in the fridge or freeze it in serving-sized portions). Or choose quinoa or some other grain.

Tortillas (Trader Joe’s has corn, corn-wheat, and Food for Life- brand sprouted grain tortillas that are preservative & oil-free). Freeze them if you don’t go through them quickly enough.

Once you have these staples on hand, you can create combinations on the spur of the moment. Just add a few spoonful's of foods on the above list to a bowl. By lunchtime, they'll be thawed and require just a few minutes in the microwave. Every time I throw these together, I’m always surprised at how good these combinations taste and how satisfying they are. Adding spices of your choice increases phytonutrient content even more. Throwing these combos into a tortilla, adds yet another dimension.

Here are some combinations I have enjoyed:

  1. Sweet potatoes, spinach & black beans (w/ cumin & smoked paprika)

  2. Sweet potatoes, spinach & corn (w/ cinnamon, smoked paprika & cumin)

  3. Sweet potatoes, spinach & rice

  4. Baked potatoes, black beans & salsa (w/ cumin & smoked paprika)

  5. Baked potatoes, spinach & salsa (w/ cumin & smoked paprika)

  6. Mixed vegetables & black beans

  7. Mixed vegetables & spinach (w/ nutritional yeast)

  8. Black beans, spinach & peas

  9. Black beans & a couple of spoonful’s of salsa (w/ cumin, chili)

  10. Spinach, salsa & rice

These are just a few of many possible combinations; you get the idea. Combine away and add other canned or frozen foods if you don’t like the ones listed. Before you dismiss these as being too simple, try them out, they are delicious! These combos beat something from a vending machine or fast food any day.

* For sources of plant-based frozen meals, read #9 in What Type of Eater Are You?

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