Quick Throw-Togethers for When Cooking in Advance Didn’t Happen

There are some weeks where meal-prep just doesn’t make the Sunday schedule.

It’s not that you didn’t think about meal-prep. It’s just that other things were more pressing at the time. Maybe you were busy with laundry, working on that (*sigh*) never-ending group project, cleaning your room or studying for an exam. Or maybe you were watching Netflix, spending the day in D.C., hanging out with family, or taking a day off – all of which are valid!

Many think that you can’t eat healthfully if you don’t meal-prep, but that is actually a myth.

While it’s true that cooking your meals in advance certainly makes it a whole lot easier to eat healthy, you can get by, from a nutrition and health perspective, with on-the-spot cooking. It just requires a bit more thought and creativity.

Don’t take this post the wrong way – I am a huge proponent of fully cooking your meals in advance and advocate for that approach as much as possible, but I am also a fan of letting life happen and allowing it to happen. It’s important to always have ingredients on hand that can be quickly thrown together to create a balanced meal. Having this foresight will allow you to be nutritionally successful no matter what situation you’re in!

Below are five meals that I created in under 15 minutes. Actually, most of these were made in less than 10 minutes. I just like to account for clean-up time.

All of these meals hit at least three of the five food groups, as recommended by the USDA’s MyPlate graphic. You should (at minimum) include a protein source, fruit and/or vegetables and a carbohydrate source at every meal to allow for optimal nutrition and satisfaction.

I hope that you can derive some inspiration from these quick throw-togethers that I created during weeks when I didn’t have time to meal-prep.

1. A Breakfast Parfait (With a View)

How To:
You don’t have to be in St. Thomas to enjoy a breakfast this beautiful (though it certainly would be an added bonus ;) ). No advanced prep is needed for this one. Just squirt some honey into the bottom of a small glass, add some plain (or vanilla) Greek yogurt, layer the sliced banana, cereal flakes (and some more honey) and repeat. Top with sliced banana.

2. Sweet Potato Shakshouka

How To:
Step 1: Slice a sweet potato lengthwise and pop it in the toaster oven.

Step 2: Sauté and season some onions, tomatoes and peppers. Add some tomato sauce and spices, and allow everything to simmer for a few minutes before adding your egg(s). After you add the eggs, cover the pan with foil and let everything simmer until the eggs reach your desired texture.

3. Tofu Lo-Mein

Tofu Lo-Mein: The best way to get rid of sitting-in-the-fridge whole wheat spaghetti, green beans and soon-to-expire spinach.

How To:
Step 1: Slice and sauté some tofu in sesame oil. Add soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger and sesame seeds to the mix. Sauté some more.

Step 2: When tofu is halfway done cooking (you can cover the pan with foil to make it cook faster), add sliced green beans and spinach to the mix. Continue sautéing over medium-high heat.

Step 3: When everything is almost done cooking, add the pre-cooked whole wheat spaghetti to the pan and mix. Add more soy sauce and sesame oil if needed.

Step 4: Top with scallions and more sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately, while warm.

4. Open-Faced Lox Sandwich

This one is my favorite because it looks way more complicated than it is. You also get plenty of protein from the smoked salmon and the Greek yogurt.

Step 1: Pop a whole wheat sandwich bun (or two slices of whole wheat bread) into the toaster.

Step 2: After the bread is toasted, spread some plain Greek yogurt on it. Add a squirt of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, some dill and some chives.

Step 3: Add some leafy greens and a sliced tomato on top of the yogurt.

Step 4: Top sandwich with smoked salmon and extra lemon juice if desired.

5. Eggs + Veggies + Toast

Two scrambled eggs with sautéed tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese served with two slices of whole wheat toast and butter.

How To:
Sauté your favorite veggies (or the ones you have in your fridge…) and scramble them (plus some feta) with an egg or two. Enjoy with whole wheat toast and some butter. This one really could not get easier.

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful! If other quick throw-togethers have worked for you, tell me about them in the comments below!
<3 Dena

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