The most common excuses I hear when people tell my why they can’t eat healthy, non-GMO food is that they “can’t” cook or that they “don’t have time” to cook.
It’s a sad disservice that our schools have decided that home economics class is no longer necessary. Whether you are male or female, the ability to put together a nourishing, tasty meal on a budget can’t be overrated. We’ve all got to eat, right? My kids have been cooking since they were 9 years old. (Uh-oh, someone call the child abuse hotline! She’s making her children slave over a hot stove!)
Anyhow, whether you can’t cook, won’t cook, don’t have time to cook, or just want some speedy solutions for busy days, here are 99 relatively healthy menu options. The list assumes that the reader has the ability to boil water, to operate a blender, to heat something up in the oven on a cookie sheet, and to use a sharp knife without injuring any digits.
To make the list, the item must be able to be found in a GMO-free version, must not contain massive amounts of sugar, is preferably organic, and must be free of additives and chemicals. Some items are brand name recommendations. Others will be left up to your own judgement to choose a variety that meets your own qualifications for “healthy”, based on special dietary needs, availability, and, of course, personal preferences.
(Before people chime in suggesting that the inclusion of processed foods is not healthy – I agree. It’s NOT the best option. The best option is always local, organic, whole foods, prepared from scratch. But sometimes people are short on time or culinary skills. Some people don’t have access to a full kitchen. Regardless of the reason for a person not to cook from scratch, they have to eat too. This article provides a list of options that are far better than going through a drive-thru or ordering a pizza.)
- Fresh fruit (Find local, in-season fruit at Eat Local Grown) If you’re particularly busy, you can buy fruit trays where the contents are already washed and cut up at the grocery store
- Fresh vegetables (see above for shortcuts)
- Yogurt dip (Plain yogurt seasoned with fresh herbs, dried herbs, or MSG-free seasoning packets) serve with veggies or crackers
- Yogurt with fruit and granola
- Instant Miso Soup
- Oatmeal with maple syrup, nuts, and dried fruit
- Natural peanut butter and crackers of your choice
- Protein shakes – my favorite is Reserveage Organics – Whey Protein, Grass-fed, Chocolate
- Rotisserie chicken (our local Safeway has an organic one – so does Whole Foods)
- Pre-cooked brown rice
- Steamed veggies (#2), Chinese chili sauce, and precooked rice (#11)
- Trail mix (prepackaged or make your own – here’s a recipe)
- Dried Fruit: Raisins, dried berries, dried apple slices
- Salad: If your veggies are pre-washed you can put this together very quickly. As well, salad can be preassembled. Simply add protein and dressing at serving time.
- Eggs: Nature’s fastest protein – it does not get easier than a boiled egg, and those make great toppers for other “fast foods”
- Cheese: Opt for a healthy version without additives and artificial colors, serve with fruit or crackers
- Smoothies: Throw fruits, veggies, yogurt and your milk of choice into the blender. Add a little pure vanilla and some honey. We like to freeze fruit for this purpose to make a rich thick shake.
- Homemade granola cookies: Recipe HERE (you can make them into granola bar shapes if you want to)
- Nile Spice instant soups
- No-bake haystack cookies: Recipe HERE
- Easy taco salad: Chopped lettuce or baby spinach topped with drained canned black beans, diced rotisserie chicken, salsa, shredded cheese, and a dollop of plain yogurt. Crumble organic tortilla chips on top. (We like Beanitos Nacho Cheese with White Bean Chips for this salad.)
- Hummus: Serve the dip with veggie sticks, homemade crackers, or tortillas
- Applesauce: Try topping it with homemade granola and vanilla yogurt for a quick no-cook “apple crisp”
- Chocolate Milk: Directions HERE
- Apples with natural peanut butter
- Frozen Yogurt Berries: Toss well-washed berries in vanilla yogurt. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours for a cold, healthy treat
- Kind bars – my favorites is Dark Chocolate, Nuts, & Sea Salt
- Edamame (ONLY organic – most soy is GMO)
- Pancakes or Waffles: Check the health food section of your freezer aisle for good choices. Top with fruit for a nutrition boost
- Couscous: This speedy grain only requires the addition of boiling water or broth. Let it sit for 5 minutes, covered, and you have an instant hearty side dish. Add some steamed veggies and lean protein to turn it into a one dish meal
- Cottage cheese: Top storebought or homemade cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Annie’s Organic fruit snacks – you can order a variety pack to try out the different flavors. (For the record, I’m horribly disappointed that Annie’s sold out to Big Food, but for the sake of this article, the organic snacks are sure to be free of GMOs and other nastiness.)
- Fruit Salad: Top it with nuts and a honey-sweetened yogurt for a protein boost
- Dill Pickles
- Ants-on-a-log: Celery sticks stuffed with natural peanut butter then topped with raisins
- Quick Greek Salad: Chopped cucumber, peppers and cherry tomatoes with feta cheese and vinaigrette
- Homemade Fruitsicles: Puree fruit that is overripe, then freeze it in popsicle forms – strawberry-banana is a favorite combo here
- Yogurt “protein” pudding: Plain or flavored yogurt with one scoop of vanilla protein powder
- Guacamole:Mash ripe avocado and stir in some lemon juice, finely minced onion, and finely minced jalapenoes. Alternatively, stir in salsa
- 5 layer dip: Spread a can of refried beans in a dish. Top with mashed avocado or guacamole, salsa, plain yogurt or sour cream, and shredded cheese.
- Earnest Eats Hot and Fit Cereal – just add hot water to these containers – easy “to-go” food to take to the office
- Savory snack mix: Popcorn and nuts sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spices
- Ravioli from the refrigerated section of your grocery store topped with marinara and parmesan cheese
- Cajun beans and rice: canned beans, pouch of pre-cooked rice, 2 tbsp of tomato paste, and Cajun seasoning
- Tzatziki: This yummy Greek garlic and yogurt dip is a satisfying snack with homemade crackers or veggies
- Nachos made from GMO free tortilla chips, topped with rotisserie chicken, cheese, and salsa
- Amy’s Organic Tuscan Bean and Rice Soup topped with fresh-grated Parmesan and served with crusty bread
- Medjool dates and almonds
- Frozen grapes – dark varieties like Concord are especially delicious when frozen
- Homemade gazpacho: Puree tomatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, and other seasonal veggies. Keep in the fridge and serve cold.
- Just-add-water Vegetarian Chili
- Quick Banana Nut Cookies: Mash 2 overripe bananas well. Stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Latte: Make a delicious latte with a homemade creamer
- Mexican Black Bean Salad: (you can use a can of rinsed organic black beans or beans that you cooked yourself previously) 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers, some fresh cilantro, and lemon juice
- Roll up soft tortillas that have been spread with cream cheese or ricotta, and topped with fruit preserves
- Green Apple Salad: Chopped green apple, red grapes, and walnuts sprinkled with a dressing made from honey, lemon juice and cinnamon
- Annie’s Homegrown Organic Mac & Cheese – not great but definitely better than Kraft
- Easy vegetable soup: First make your soup base by combining one large can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato-vegetable juice, and a can of your favorite no-MSG broth. Then, pick any combination of the following that you like: 1 can of white beans, 1 can of green beans, 1 can of peas, 1 can of corn, 1 can of carrots, and a cup of pre-shredded coleslaw cabbage. Season with a teaspoon each of parsley, basil, and oregano. Simmer this mixture on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes. You can top it with fresh Parmesan and serve it with crusty bread.
- GMO-free tortilla chips and salsa
- Seeds – we really like pumpkin seeds – and you can sprinkle these on top of salads or granola for an extra hit of protein
- Cook a serving of pasta. While it’s still warm, stir in chopped tomatoes and chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper, and top with fresh parmesan or mozzarella.
- Rotisserie chicken, steamed veggies, and Instant Organic Mashed Potatoes with organic instant chicken gravy mix
- Asian chicken salad: Mix chopped rotisserie chicken with shredded coleslaw. Top with an Asian dressing (make your own with apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, honey, ginger powder, and garlic powder) and finely chopped cilantro. You can shred other veggies to add to this, like snow peas and carrots.
- Soft tacos: organic tortillas (corn or flour), canned organic refried beans, chopped lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese
- 5 can chili: 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato-vegetable juice, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of corn (organic), 3 tbsp of chili powder. If desired, add one chopped green bell pepper and one chopped onion. If you’re feeling really industrious, you can add a pound of cooked ground beef or chopped rotisserie chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Canned split pea soup topped with finely diced ham, served with a bakery roll
- Avocado and white bean spread: Mash avocado with one can of drained white beans (navy or cannellini work well for this). Add some seasoning salt, finely diced jalapenos and red onion, and cheddar cheese. Spread on wraps or serve as a dip.
- No-bake chocolate-peanut butter balls made with protein powder (here’s the recipe)
- Clif Bars – these are a bit higher in carbohydrates and calories, and they make a good addition to your hiking pack
- Wraps: any soft tortilla wrapped around meat, cheese, and/or veggies, lightly seasoned with the salad dressing of your choice
- Combine a can of tuna, a can of white beans, chopped onion, chopped peppers and chopped black olives (veggies are optional). Top with Italian dressing mixed with dijon mustard to taste. (Note: I no longer use canned tuna because of Fukushima, but any canned fish will do in this recipe)
- Mexican bean salad: Combine 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed; with 1 can of organic corn, drained. For the dressing mix 1/2 jar of salsa; 1/2 tsp each of chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder; 3 tbsp of lemon juice. Toss well. Serve as a salad, in a soft tortilla or mixed with a pouch of pre-cooked rice.
- Quinoa and fruit salad: Toss pre-cooked quinoa with diced apples and pears, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Top with raspberry vinagrette.
- Fresh figs, ricotta with some honey stirred in, and almonds
- Sandwiches – be sure to get good quality bread and use healthy fillings
- Pasta with marinara sauce, you can add extra vegetables, organic premade meatballs (found in the freezer section), or rotisserie chicken. Stir in some ricotta or cottage cheese for more protein and creamy goodness
- Apple and peanutbutter sandwiches with granola (You can find instructions for this gluten-free goodie HERE.)
- Easy potato soup: Bring 2 cups of milk to a simmer and stir in one cup of instant potato flakes. Stir until well-combined. You may need to add more milk. Top with sour cream, shredded cheddar, diced ham, and chives or chopped green onions.
- Ezekiel sprouted grain cereal topped with honey, cinnamon, dried fruit, and milk
- Chicken citrus salad: Top spinach with rotisserie chicken, drained canned mandarin oranges, slivered almonds, and a light vinaigrette.
- You can find a list of awesome rice-and-bean recipes HERE. Simply substitute canned beans and precooked rice, and reduce any cooking liquid to about half a cup.
- Pre-cooked quinoa – use any place you’d normally use rice
- Carrot-apple salad: Find the super-easy recipe HERE
- Organic frozen cheese pizza, topped with your choice of veggies and some rotisserie chicken
- Easy chili-mac: Make organic macaroni and cheese. While it’s cooking, heat a can of organic chili (don’t add water to the chili!) Stir the two together and top with a little more shredded cheddar cheese.
- Pre-cooked lentils in an Indian-spiced tomato sauce served with rice and topped with spicy mango chutney
- Easy corn chowder: One can of organic creamed corn, one cup of milk, and 1/3 cup of instant potato flakes. Season with fresh cracked black pepper and top with shredded cheese.
- Elegant cheese platter: slice an assortment of good quality cheeses. Serve with sliced apples, grapes, and crackers. (Go crazy – have a glass of wine with it!)
- Pasta salad: cooked pasta, steamed or raw veggies of choice, caesar salad dressing (optional: add some sliced rotisserie chicken)
- Pesto chicken: Chop rotisserie chicken. Stir in some pesto sauce, top with Parmesan, and serve with pasta, over rice, or in a wrap.
- Spread natural peanut butter on a soft tortilla. Wrap this around a banana. You can wrap this in foil and heat it up in the oven, or eat it as is.
- Broccoli salad: Mix chopped broccoli, diced ham, raisins, and shredded cheddar into a bowl. Top with a creamy salad dressing or make your own with vegan or organic mayonnaise, honey, garlic powder, and a dash of cider vinegar..
- Get tabouli from your deli counter. Stir in some rotisserie chicken and serve with a garden salad.
- Mexican “pizza”: Spread refried beans onto a soft tortilla. Top with salsa, chopped peppers and shredded cheese. Place it on a baking sheet and put it in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then slice like pizza and enjoy.
- Southern BBQ chicken sandwich: Mix rotisserie chicken with organic BBQ sauce. Serve on a bun, with a side of deli coleslaw.
- Bruschetta: Place baguette slices on a baking sheet that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Toast lightly in the oven (5 minutes at 400 degrees). Top with a good quality organic bruschetta
and put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes (or until bruschetta is heated through.) Serve with rotisserie chicken and a salad.
Do you have some favorite fare that is quick and easy? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!
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Contributed by Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper.
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more news and breaking information visit www.DaisyLuther.com