Who has the time to make elaborate weekday meals? Our motto: Leave the feasts for Saturday and Sunday. After a long day of work, you don’t want to spend an hour preparing dinner; and it’s hard to fit cooking time into a rushed morning routine. Luckily, you can make healthy and delicious meals in less than 15 minutes with these handy recipes.
- Ever tried an Omelet in a Mug? This two-minute favorite of blogger Elise Bauer, creator of SimplyRecipes.com, is easy to make and to customize. Just line microwave-safe mugs with nonstick spray or olive oil, crack two eggs into each (plus a tablespoon of milk), and top to your taste; options could include grated cheese, chives and your favorite chopped vegetables. To make them fluffy, alternate microwaving and stirring.
- Overnight Oats are trendy these days, and for good reason—they’re simple to make and ready to go when you are. They’re also a go-to for Julie Hartigan, the chef and recipe developer behind CookingwJulie.com. To prep them, soak old-fashioned oats in milk—you guessed it—overnight in the refrigerator. You can eat them hot or cold—and add your favorite topping, like fruit or chopped nuts.
- Rice bowls are an ideal way to get a hearty lunch in an easily portable package. Line up four containers to make Greek Shrimp & Rice Bowls, and evenly divide up cooked brown rice, baby spinach, cooked shrimp, grape tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, chickpeas and any toppings, like feta or dill, that you may want. “Try making your own dressing—and substituting cauliflower rice for a low-carb option,” suggests Hartigan.
- This Avocado Chicken Salad may sound simple, but it’s a surprisingly delicious mix of flavors. It sounds a lot like your standard approach to chicken salad—cooked chicken, apple, celery and red onion—but the trick is that it calls for avocado instead of mayonnaise as a binding agent. Just mash it all together and add cilantro, lime or lemon juice, parsley, and a dash of salt and pepper. “You can eat it solo, as a sandwich, on toast or over greens, for an extra-healthy lunch,” says Bauer.
- If you have a toaster oven handy, Sweet Potato Toast is an easy afternoon bite. Just cut quarter-inch-thick slices of sweet potato, toast them flat in a toaster or toaster oven for five minutes (to get a browned base), and add a topping of your choice—Hartigan recommends avocado, egg and cheese, or almond butter and sliced banana.
- Pasta is a classic quick supper—get the water boiling and cook up some noodles while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Bauer likes this simple Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta; it uses ready-made pesto you can pick up at the grocery store. Just sauté the shrimp with some garlic; then add frozen peas and artichoke hearts, plus green onions and parsley, for a light and fresh flavor. “Toss with the pesto-covered pasta and a little reserved pasta water, season with salt and pepper, and mangia,” says Bauer.
- “Chicken Tortilla Soup can be a real crowd-pleaser,” says Hartigan. Everyone can top it just the way they want: chives, sour cream, cheese, salsa and more. This simple recipe combines cooked chicken and chicken broth with olive oil, onion, chili powder, fire-roasted tomatoes and black beans, topped off with lime juice, cilantro and tortilla chips for a little Mexican-inspired flavor.
- Keep staples on hand: Hartigan and Bauer agree that stocking your kitchen with ingredients that can quickly be turned into a meal is the biggest time-saver when it comes to food prep. Some of their favorite items to have handy include canned goods like tuna, black beans and chickpeas; frozen shrimp (cooked or uncooked); versatile veggies like celery and baby spinach; grains like quinoa and couscous; flavorful condiments like salsa, grainy mustard and wasabi paste; tortillas; chicken stock; Greek yogurt; and, especially, eggs, for a fast meal that’s protein- and nutrient-packed.
- Skip the busywork: Hartigan is a fan of cutting out prep time by picking up partially prepared ingredients, like a rotisserie chicken that can be turned into tacos (or tortilla soup!), used to add some protein to pasta, or even become tomorrow’s chicken salad. “It jumps you ahead, so you’re already that much closer to having dinner ready,” she says.
- Plan your meals: “If you can invest a little bit of time to cook on a Sunday afternoon,” says Hartigan, “you can get yourself set for the week and get food on the table faster.” A batch of soup, stew or chili can go a long way, she says. Hartigan likes to prep a big salad and line the bowl with paper towels. The towels will absorb moisture to keep the salad from getting soggy; just add dressing when you’re ready to eat.
Read More: How to Eliminate Unpleasant Kitchen Odors
By Nicole Price Fasig