There’s no doubt that we live in a society that’s filled with stress, leaving us almost no time to slow down, relax, and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Because of that, many people opt for take-outs or buy frozen dinners like pizzas or chicken wings.
As you can imagine, that’s not the healthiest option, no matter what dietary goals you have. So, it might be a good idea to look into some options for eating healthy without cooking, so that you can stay healthy but still save some time.
- Fortunately, it’s very easy to eat healthy without cooking these days. From pre-cooked meals to nutritious foods you can eat without much preparation, there are plenty of ways to avoid cooking when you don’t like it or are pressed for time.
- Still, there are some things you should know to avoid any serious nutrient deficiencies and ensure that your body absorbs all the necessary minerals and vitamins.
Can you eat healthy without cooking?
There’s no reason you can’t stay healthy without cooking. While some foods require some cooking (meats, eggs, and similar), there are still plenty of foods you can choose that will greatly reduce your cooking time.
While you can’t eat raw chicken, pork, and many other foods, you can buy them pre-cooked and serve them without much preparation. Other foods like yogurt, fruits, and veggies can be consumed raw, helping you reap lots of health benefits.
Sometimes, though, getting enough minerals and vitamins might be hard, especially if you’re limited to foods that aren’t cooked. If that’s the case, you may want to supplement these in a pill form.
But it’s still best to get all your nutrients from fresh produce, so aim to do just that.
What you should keep in mind when eating healthy without cooking
Eating healthy without cooking is definitely possible, but it’s important to keep certain things in mind since everyone’s dietary needs are different.
Whether you cook or not, it’s important to consume foods containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This is especially important if you’re prone to deficiencies of certain micronutrients.
For example, if you’re at an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia, you might need to consume more iron-rich foods.
Plus, certain nutrients are more easily absorbed when the foods containing them are cooked. So, you might need to increase your intake of such foods to make up for that difference if you’re going to limit your consumption of cooked foods.
Counting your calories isn’t important for everyone. But if you’re trying to lose or maintain a stable weight, it might be beneficial to have at least a rough estimate of how many calories you consume each day.
To do that, you may want to use an app you can easily install on your phone. It will count the calories for you – all you have to do is input the foods you eat each day, and the app will do the rest for you.
If you’re allergic to certain substances like gluten or foods like peanuts, strawberries, or shellfish, it might be much harder for you to create a diet that doesn’t involve cooking.
This is because a lot of foods that contain allergens are foods that you don’t cook, such as fruits, peanuts, seeds, dairy, and similar.
As a result, make sure to keep your allergies in mind when designing a dietary plan you want to stick to.
Tips on how to eat healthy without cooking
If eating healthy without cooking is still scary for you, here are some tips you can follow to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients and saving time spent in the kitchen, both on preparation and cooking.
1. Buy prechopped frozen vegetables.
These days, supermarkets are filled with frozen veggies. The only thing you have to do is heat them up and enjoy them as a side dish with your dinner.
Frozen veggies provide you with the same nutrients as fresh produce, so you’re not missing out on anything. Eating vegetables helps you load up on fiber, antioxidants, and lots of other nutrients, depending on what type of vegetables you choose.
Some of the best options include green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. They are prechopped, so you don’t have to worry about any other additional step in your dinner preparation.
2. Stock up on microwavable bags of whole grains.
Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice are rich in fiber. This nutrient helps you stay fuller for longer after eating, feeds the ‘good’ gut bacteria in your digestive tract, and lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
Cooking these grains is relatively easy, but if you want to reduce your cooking time even more, buy microwavable bags of these whole grains. These bags often require just some water and can be ready in as fast as five minutes.
Another option is to choose precooked frozen whole grains. Then, you only need to warm them up, and you’re ready to eat.
3. Choose precooked meats.
Precooked chicken strips or other cuts of meats can be found in the freezer section but also in the refrigerated area. Depending on the ones you choose, you may only need to heat them up or be ready to eat them right away.
Precooked meats are a great idea for lunches as well as dinners, especially when you don’t like cooking or don’t have too much time. Just try to choose the options without too much sodium to avoid high blood pressure.
In addition to being easy to prepare, precooked meats provide you with a lot of protein, which is a very important nutrient.
They also contain a lot of minerals and vitamins that you can only get from animal protein. So, it is a good idea to include them in your diet.
4. Buy canned vegetables and fish.
Canned foods like tomatoes, beans, tuna, or mackerel are an excellent way to eat healthy without having to cook.
Canned vegetables help you get more fiber in your diet as well as provide you with lots of micronutrients like vitamin C, B vitamins, and plenty of minerals. They also contain powerful antioxidants, which lower your risk of various health conditions.
On the other hand, canned fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. They’re also high in protein – an important nutrient for muscle growth. Eating canned fish can also help you lose weight, as it fills you up without too many calories.
So, make sure to choose these canned products next time you’re shopping.
5. Buy lots of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies don’t require a lot of preparation before you can eat them. In most cases, all you need is to give them a rinse and enjoy a healthy, nutritious snack.
Vegetables and fruits contain a lot of fiber. This nutrient helps feed the ‘good’ gut bacteria living in your digestive tract, improves digestion, and aids in feeling full for longer after eating.
A single serving of fruits or veggies can help you get as much as 30% of your daily need for fiber, making them an excellent addition to any diet.
This produce also provides you with plenty of antioxidants – plant compounds that flush out free radicals, reducing the risk of oxidative damage to your cells. As a result, you’re at a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
So, adding fruits and veggies to your diet is a great way to eat healthily without cooking.
6. Buy deli chicken and other meats
Rotisserie chicken and other pre-made foods are a great way to limit your cooking time while still eating healthy meals. What’s more, these portions of meat are usually quite large, allowing you to make more than one meal using them.
Deli meats can provide you with lots of vitamins and minerals found only in animal protein as well as lots of other important nutrients, including protein and healthy fats. They may also provide you with omega-3 fatty acids and other important substances.
Deli chicken and other meats can also be sliced and used for sandwiches and wraps, adding variety to your meals without increasing any cooking time.
So, next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure to stop by the deli section.
7. Choose store-bought salads.
Store-bought salads are a great way to include more nutrients in your diet without cooking. These salads often come with some form of protein: grilled chicken, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, or falafel.
Because of that, you can load up on not only protein but also healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and plenty of other nutrients.
In addition, salads are rich in fiber, which is a nutrient that contributes to good digestive system health. It also helps prevent overeating. So, if your goal is weight loss, choosing salads is a great option.
When choosing store-bought salads, avoid the ones with heavy dressing or other creamy and fatty ingredients. These aren’t healthy and are often rich in sodium instead.
Other than that, eating store-bought salads is a great way to stay healthy and avoid cooking.
8. Stock up on high-protein dairy products.
High-protein dairy products, such as Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, or cottage cheese, are a wonderful source of important nutrients and don’t require any preparation, let alone cooking.
These dairy products also provide you with a lot of nutrients, such as riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, and selenium – all of which keep your bones healthy and strong while preventing serious health conditions.
Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt can be served with fresh veggies or fruit for added nutrients and fiber. You can also top these two with nuts or seeds, adding healthy fats and plenty of minerals. In fact, the options are endless when it comes to serving cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.
So, make sure to stock up on these when trying to avoid cooking.
9. Limit take-outs.
Ordering take-out is a very easy and time-saving way to avoid cooking. But most of the foods available for takeout are rather unhealthy, rich in sodium, and high in fat.
Because of that, you’re ingesting a lot of calories with barely any nutrients. You also increase your risk of high blood pressure as well as strokes and heart attacks. In addition, you can easily gain weight if you eat takeout often.
So, try avoiding ordering takeout if possible. And if you absolutely have no other choice, avoid fast food chains and deep-fried foods.
Instead, opt for salads, sandwiches, soups, high-protein meals, and even sushi. These provide you with lots of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. So, they are much better for your health.
10. Invest in a meal delivery service.
Meal delivery services come in different forms. Some deliver you cooked meals each day, so you don’t have to think about any meal prep at all. Others, which are more common, require some preparation or cooking but make your life much easier.
They come with recipes and all the products you need, such as meat, vegetables, sauces, whole grains, and more. So, you only have to put all of them together, and you’ll have your dinner ready in no time.
Plus, most of these dishes can be prepared in ten minutes or less and only require one pan. So, it also decreases cleanup time.
So, while this option does require a little bit of cooking, it’s nothing compared to making a whole dinner from scratch without a recipe and all the ingredients required.
As you can see, it’s not impossible to eat in a healthy manner without cooking. You just have to know how to grocery shop, which products to choose from, and how to limit your time spent in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition.
Hopefully, the trips and tricks mentioned above will put you well on your journey to cooking less but still eating healthy.