We ALL have those weeks, when things just aren’t going according to plan, when work runs long, when school gets canceled, when you get a last minute change in the schedule and you’ve gotta adapt. Or when you just don’t have the energy or motivation to cook at the end of a long day. It’s all normal!
But it doesn’t need to mean a healthy dinner is screwed, too. In fact, it’s on those days that we often NEED a nourishing dinner the most, to fill and ground our bodies, and bring us back to balance from the day.
Too often people let the all-or-nothing mentality come in hard here– if they can’t cook a “perfect” dinner from scratch, what’s the point of trying? So they go for the takeout, the pizza, the drive-through… but usually don’t feel great about it (physically but also mentally too, we beat ourselves up a little each time).
But here’s an idea: not all is lost. There ARE so many ways to eat real food and get some good veggies in, and keep it SIMPLE and quick most of all, without going to extremes either way.
5 meals to make when you’re too tired to cook
All of these are quicker, faster and healthier than any takeout, so truly give them a try next time you’re in a pinch! Here are 5 meals I make…. or more like “assemble”… when the day has been crazy.
1. Chicken sausage, peppers & greens:
If you open my freezer you will always *always* see some organic chicken sausage. It’s the quickest protein & they defrost quick under some warm water. For this, I just slice and saute some bell peppers, then add sausage to the pan to brown. Then add some greens (kale, chard or spinach) in the last minute or two. Serve with: rice, tortillas and beans or avocado, over lettuce or arugula, or whatever other side you want.
2. Roasted veggies + rotisserie chicken + polenta:
Roasted veggies are my go to at least once a week over here. The best part is most roastable veggies stay for a long time in your fridge (or the counter) so I always have them on hand. Think carrots, sweet potatoes/potatoes, brussel sprouts, etc. I love adding whatever I have in the fridge too: fennel, mushroom and green beans are my latest additions. Toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20-ish mins at 400 degrees. Polenta (or rice or quinoa or whatever you have in your pantry): 2 cups water to 1 cup grain with a little salt and butter. I like polenta because it cooks the fastest in 6 minutes or so. Bring water and grain to a boil, then reduce heat to low until all the water absorbs. And rotisserie chicken straight-up from the grocery store = the weeknight life-saver.
3. Veggie burgers + sweet potato fries + broccoli:
A good veggie burger can be hard to find– so many are full of fake meat and non-real ingredients and zero vegetables in sight, but when you find the good ones, you always keep them stocked. I love Hilary’s brand, and so does everyone at my table. You can pop in the oven or cook on the stovetop in 10 minutes. Sweet potatoes and broccoli are also both quick cooking– I roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Dinner is done!
4. GF grilled sandwiches + tomato soup:
We love a good grilled sandwich around here. Well, who doesn’t?! With some nitrate-free turkey slices (we get ours at PCC but any natural food store should have it), mustard, avocado mayo, avocado, or some cheddar cheese, and I always pack mine with arugula too. Grill bread on a cast iron pan, toasting one side first then flipping. Add toppings to toasted side. Use a plate or lid to add some weight to the sandwich as you grill it. For a quick tomato soup, I saute 1/2 onion & 2 cloves garlic, then add them to the blender with 1 large can tomatoes, 1 TB italian seasoning, 2 cups broth, and 2 tsp of sea salt and pepper. A little coconut milk, almond milk or regular milk is great too for a little creaminess factor. Then blend & warm up on stove. Dinner is done!
5. Pesto chicken & lentil pasta with arugula or peas:
My favorite instantpot trick? Cover a few chicken breasts in water, turn on high pressure for 8 minutes, then drain water out, shred chicken and mix with pesto. It has countless uses for the week– in salads, a addition to soup, sandwiches, pasta, etc. Then cook some lentil or quinoa pasta (for some added protein), and mix with some tomato sauce or more pesto and add in some peas or arugula to serve.
If you make any of these, let me know over on instagram at @simplyrealhealth. Healthy doesn’t have to be hard. It all counts and it all adds up! The more nutrients in your body, the better, no matter what way it looks.
What you eat = how you feel, how you sleep, how your energy is, how quick your brain can work, and how much patience you have. Aka all the things you need in a busy life.
photo by Carina Skrobecki
Wish you could simplify your weekly meal making? (And make it healthier AND more joyful?)
Join me at my free live cooking class to learn how I make 3 healthy meals for the week in just 30 minutes (& how you can do the same thing… promise)! Sign up here to save your seat– spots will be limited (and we do send out a replay if you can’t make it live)! You’ll get a shopping list for all 3 NEW recipes, so you can make them, too!