Sometimes you get to the end of a workday and your brain is so tired you don't want to think about a long shopping list, or what steps you have to take to complete an involved recipe. You just want a meal in front of you — now. You want something healthy so your brain and body can recharge, but you want it to be easy to make.
We've rounded up a collection of recipes that are simple, speedy, easy to memorize and customize so you can throw together a satisfying meal without effort. When cooking feels like an arduous task, fall back on these simple ideas.
You can't go wrong with a sandwich. When you want something simple and easy, yet completely satisfying as a meal, try out this hearty recipe. It features broiled eggplant coated in a soy sauce and sesame marinade, and a mayonnaise and wasabi spread. Sounds kind of amazing, right? You can customize this by brushing the eggplant with a bit of olive oil for broiling, or using a specialty spread from your favorite local deli, or adding in a mix of crunchy veggies like shredded carrots or sprouts. Whatever direction you choose, you know you have a flexible and fast sandwich option.
You only need bread, avocado, sprouts and sweet pepper jelly for this open-faced sandwich. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch)
Does a sandwich sound great but you don't even want to deal with finding a bunch of ingredients? With this open-faced sandwich, all you need is some bread, an avocado, and a jar of sweet pepper jelly. And if you want, some sprouts. There's enough flavor and texture going on that your mouth is happy, and enough healthy fats and carbs that your tummy is happy. And your brain didn't even have to get involved in the conversation!
Need a bit more inspiration? A few more avocado toast ideas include:
- Avocado Toast with Tomato and Basil
- Avocado Toast with Spicy Cabbage Slaw
- Avocado Toast with Tangy Olive Tapenade
- Avocado and Grilled Onion Toast with a Fried Egg
Sometimes you just want a hearty snack. While this corn chili is delicious when slowly warmed in a crock pot, it can be just as good when made in a few minutes on the stovetop. Just heat the ingredients up on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is melty and hot. You can enjoy it with chips, or with slices of toasted garlic bread.
Another version of an easy chili chowder is this Southwestern Corn Chili. Because really, who doesn't love chili?!
Speaking of having dip as a meal, this is another great option. Throw the ingredients in a blender, slice some bread and you have a meal. Lemon and parsley keep the flavor nice and bright, while the protein and carbs from the beans keep you satisfied for hours. It's really a no-brainer.
You can also try this White Bean Dip with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, or maybe come up with a blend all our own using what's in the fridge or cupboard. The best part about it is that white beans have a mild flavor that pairs well with all sorts of other flavors.
A refreshing and flavorful salad that is easy to put together? Yes please! This recipe is great especially on hot summer days when you want something cold and hydrating. This salad combines the sweet of watermelon, the zesty flavors of mint and feta, the tang of lime and the bite of red onion — all in one bowl for your tastebuds to enjoy. And all you have to do is chop up the ingredients and toss them together. There are quite a few savory watermelon salad ideas you can try out. You can pick your favorite to fall back on for a hot summer evening.
Soup is always easy to make. Ultimately, it's just some broth with veggies, meat or pasta thrown in. You can pick up a handful of vegetables from the store and a box of broth and voila! Dinner. And leftovers! If you aren't quite sure what to put in a soup, this recipe is a great guideline. Simplify this recipe even more by skipping the tomatoes and dried herbs, and just using a can or two of stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs.
One of the easiest meals to put together is enchiladas, as long as you're happy with using packaged ingredients rather than making everything from scratch, anyway. A lightning-fast trip to the grocery store and a few minutes spent in the kitchen will be well worth the satisfaction of sitting down to a meal of enchiladas hot from the oven.
Sometimes, it's easiest to just drink a meal. All you have to do is pull out the trusty blender and throw a few key ingredients in there — like frozen fruit, yogurt and ice — to make a filling protein shake. This cinnamon apple protein shake includes oats and almond butter, which make the meal filling and provide long-lasting energy. Another great option is a Peanut Butter Banana Cranberry Protein Smoothie. Protein shakes are easy to customize, don't require any cooking at all, and you can keep a stock of ingredients in the kitchen to use at a moment's notice.