These Are the Best Cheap and Easy No-Cook Foods, According to Reddit

These Are the Best Cheap and Easy No-Cook Foods, According to Reddit

Maybe you’re living in a hotel room without a microwave for a little while. Or maybe you’re spending the day somewhere you can’t easily get takeout, but there’s a grocery store nearby where you can grab some lunch and snacks. What are your best bets? This question has come up a few times on our favourite reddit sub, r/EatCheapandHealthy, and here are some of their suggestions. I’ll add a few of my own as we go.

Whole fruits and vegetables

Bananas, oranges, and apples can all be eaten fresh and will keep for a good while at room temperature (days, at least). Peaches, apricots, berries, grapes, and kiwis take a little more attention to ripeness and are best if you can store them in the fridge, but they’re still great options.

Plenty of veggies can be eaten raw, as well: peppers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and celery are all veggie-tray classics. The only problem is that most tasty dips will need to be refrigerated. If you’ll polish off a container of dip on the spot, no problem. Otherwise, consider peanut butter or just eat them plain.

Nut butters

If you have peanut butter and something to spread it on, you’re golden. My husband and I had trouble eating affordably on our honeymoon (we were in a country where restaurant food was expensive) until we thought to stop by a grocery store and get a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.

Peanut butter is also a staple of food-assistance programs that provide low-income kids with food they can prepare and eat by themselves, no kitchen or grownup help required. Spread that peanut butter on bread, crackers, bagels, buns, apple slices, bananas, or be a rebel and eat it with a spoon. If you don’t have a fridge to store a jar of jam, grab some honey — it lasts a year unrefrigerated.

Besides peanut butter, don’t forget that you can get almond and cashew butters, or even sunflower seed butter if you can’t eat nuts.

Bagged salad

This is another one for instant eating, and several redditors confessed that they’ve been known to eat a salad kit right out of its bag. Just dump the dressing and toppings right in there, and add some tuna, tofu, or another protein source if you like.

Pouch meals

Besides the obvious tuna pouches, there are often shelf-stable pouches containing ready-to-eat foods like lentils, beans, and rice. They’re often intended to be warmed up in a microwave or boiled in a pot of water, but check the labels — many can be safely eaten without any preparation. If spoonfuls of lukewarm lentil stew doesn’t appeal to you, consider scooping it up with chunks of bread.

Canned goods

Canned foods are already cooked, so if you don’t mind eating them at room temperature, you have a lot of options. Try a three-bean salad or a corn and bean salsa, or create your own cold salad with the veggies of your choice and a store-bought dressing.

Cheeses and cured meats

Why not make yourself a little charcuterie board? Hard cheeses, hard cured meats like pepperoni, and many kinds of pickles will stay edible for a good long time at room temperature — which is exactly why they were invented in the first place. Officially you’re not supposed to keep hard cheeses out of the fridge for more than four hours, but some cheeses can last longer. If it starts to look gross, toss it.

Trail mix

Continuing with the theme of using shelf-stable foods for their original purpose, trail mix is another genius item that honestly we could all stand to eat more of. Typically made of nuts and dried fruit, trail mix lasts for months in a sealed bag, contains a decent amount of vitamins and fibre, and needs neither refrigeration nor cooking. If you’re really strapped for cash, you can buy two raw ingredients and make the cheapest and most classic of trail mixes: GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts).

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