Eating well when you’re extremely busy can be challenging, but turning to fast food or highly-processed convenience meals — or worse, not eating at all — only compounds the problem. Embracing a few of the shortcuts below can help keep you fed and nourished while cutting down on time and effort.
Photo by Kate Ter Haar.
- Nuke It: There is no shame in the microwave game, and the science oven can help you make breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts in a matter of minutes. If you need inspiration, easy fried rice, quick French toast, nutty muesli bars, salty sweet potato chips and cake are all great places to start. (Cake might not be the most healthy food you can consume, but I firmly believe it has stress relieving properties.)
- Hit the Salad Bar: When you’re in a funk, even the simple act of washing and chopping carrots can seem overwhelming. To cut down on knife work and prep time, swing by your favourite grocery store with a salad bar and stock up on whatever pre-cut vegetables strike your fancy. Use them in soups, pasta or just saute them and plunk ’em down next to a protein for an easy, nourishing meal.
- Just Buy a Rotisserie Chicken: Yes, you can make your own, and it’s not really that hard, but there is nothing easier than grabbing a hot, roasted chicken from the store and tearing into it with your canines. You really don’t need much more than bread rolls and a little mustard, but if you want to get just a bit fancier, a roast chicken is a good base for making chicken salad or a seriously soothing soup.
- Fix it and Forget It: Rice cookers and crock pots aren’t exactly quick cooking vessels, but they are easy; all you really have to do is put things in them and press a button or two. A hearty, fairly healthy macaroni and cheese can be made with dried pasta, some broth, frozen veggies and the cheese of your choice, and this super simple self-saucing tomato and rice dish becomes a complete meal with the addition of a fried egg. If you have a slow cooker, you have a ton of options. Breakfast casserole, warming rice porridge and even creamy cheesecake and creme brulee can all be made in a crock pot, or you could wing it using this easy graphic and a formula of 450g protein + 1 cup veggies + 2 cups liquid + 2 tablespoons of herbs + 2 tablespoons of sauce or acid. Sear your protein real quick then chuck everything in the slow cooker for four hours on high or seven hours on low.
- Jack Up Instant Noodles: Instant noodles gets a bad rap due to the sodium-packed flavour pack, but the noodles are a convenient starting point for a tasty meal. Rather than using the little seasoning packet, flavour your noodles with miso, sesame oil, harissa, coconut milk, or go a completely different route and make a fast, flavorful pasta sauce with cherry tomatoes. As far as toppings, I once again recommend checking out the salad bar for sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots, spinach, diced green onion and even precooked, shredded chicken, and you should always, always, add an egg on top. Eggs are very important.
If all else fails, and you simply don’t have the energy or emotional bandwidth to do anything but order a pizza, just order the damn pizza. Eating is better than not eating, and pizza is good for the soul.
This article has been updated since its original publication.