You can skip to The Actual Recipes section down below if you don’t care about the back story here.
I’ve spent years trying to find the balance point between how to feed myself the healthiest possible food, while also using the least possible amount of effort and brainpower. This is what I’ve discovered so far. Most of this stuff is relatively cheap too.
A lot of recipes out there on the internet have a focus on perfection – they’re all about following it precisely to get a very specific result. That’s not what this post is about. This is about getting a good enough result, not a perfect one.
I looked up a lot of healthy recipes on the internet, and the general theme was usually something like “get fresh organic veggies, and grass-fed beef, and never ever use frozen food”, because those are the most perfect ways for the food to be healthy. No compromises. Nothing about what to do if you can’t even find those things (hello, third world country), or the fact that getting fresh stuff every time I want to eat would involve going outside and going to shops way more often than I can handle. Not gonna happen.
They also suggested farming it myself, which is hilarious. I’d probably forget about the poor plants and they’d die or get eaten by snails. Did I mention we have lots of snails? Well, we do, and they’re my friends, so no killing them or eating them.
Honestly, looking up healthy recipes made me feel very discouraged actually. But I didn’t give up though. I have found ways to compromise on a few things without completely giving up on eating healthy.
I buy frozen veggies and meat in bulk and keep them frozen until I need them.
Internet recipe instructions usually involved cooking things in either a frying pan or a proper oven. I don’t even own a proper oven. And frying stuff in a pan means I have to put it in the pan, wait for it, and then put it on plates. That’s like way too many steps on days when I only have 3 braincells. So I thought: what if I put the frozen stuff on the plate and then microwave it as-is? Would it cook evenly and still be edible? Nobody’s recipes ever suggested such a thing. But I tried it, and it works! You can in fact cook frozen veggies and certain types of meat on a plate in a microwave without transferring anything to any other plates or pans etc.
Is it the absolute healthiest option? Probably not. But it’s healthy enough and it results in edible food that will give you nutrition and prevent you from starving. Most of the time it even tastes pretty good!
The Actual Recipes
Here are some really vague recipes that I use on a regular basis. They will still be perfectly edible and mostly healthy even if you add stuff or leave stuff out or change it or do it while juggling cats, whatever. The point is to make healthy, edible food using as little brainpower as possible.
They might require a bit more brainpower the first few times you make them, but eventually you should be able to do it mostly on autopilot.
Vegetable and fish plate thing
Shove the following on a microwave-safe plate:
- Frozen mixed veggies (I usually buy pre-mixed bags of stir-fry vegetables in the frozen food section)
- Frozen fish (This is usually either fish fingers or bigger pieces of crumbed fish).
- Some cheese if I have some available
- Seasoning (I like garlic flakes, black pepper and mixed herbs. I usually add some Moringa or Kelp powder too for extra nutrition).
Shove whole plate in microwave and nuke it on high for 6-12 minutes (depends on the power of your microwave and on how much you piled on the plate). When in doubt, put it in for shorter periods and check on it every few minutes until you’ve got the hang of it.
That’s it. Unless you want to put some mayo on the veggies. I do that sometimes.
I could eat this pretty much every day and not get tired of it. For extra variety, use different veggie mixes every now and then, that way you get different nutrients and flavours etc.
Veggie & Scrambled Egg Bowl
Yes, you can in fact make scrambled eggs in a microwave.
Shove the following in a microwave-safe bowl:
- 1-2 eggs
- Some frozen veggies
- Cheese if you want
- Optional bone broth if you have some available – this will turn it into more of a soup
Nuke it for 1-2 minutes at a time, stir it and check if: the egg is cooked, the cheese has melted, and the veggies are at least defrosted and hot. If not, put it in for another 30s or minute until it is.
Optionally add avocado if you have some, and mayo and/or other sauces if you like.
Fruity Oatmeal Bowl
Shove the following in a microwave-safe bowl:
- Some oats (like maybe 1-2 tablespoons worth)
- Some mixed nuts/seeds. I like chia seeds in particular – they’ve got protein and omega 3 in them.
- Some dried or frozen fruit
- Some powdered cinnamon
- A bit of hot water
- Nuke the thing in the microwave for 30sec to a minute depending on how hot you want it.
- Add banana and/or other fruit if you want.
- Add yoghurt or milk, or both if you want to.
The above recipes should be enough to keep you fed on those days when your brain just doesn’t want to do much.
Bonus Recipe Ideas
These need a bit more prep time and/or equipment.
Overnight Wonderbag Stew
I have this thing called a Wonderbag. It’s a nifty insulated bag that you can put a pot inside of, and it will keep the contents hot for many hours, so you can keep something cooking for hours safely without any risk of burning the house down if you forget about it. It’s also great for saving electricity. If you can get one somewhere, I really recommend it.
What I do is I shove random edible things with water in the pot, let it boil on the stove for maybe 30-40min depending on how much I put in there, and then put it in the Wonderbag and forget about it until I get hungry later, or the next day.
There are no specific recipes here, pretty much anything works, it depends on what you have available.
Types of things I often shove in the pot to make stew from:
- Chicken (either a whole chicken or various cuts)
- Minced beef (the purest I can find – if it says “Ingredients: Beef” and nothing else, it’s good)
- Mixed vegetables
- A little bit of rice (not like a huge amount though – it’ll drain up a lot of the water. And yeah, it’ll be kind of like “rice soup” but who cares, it’s still food)
- Seasoning (garlic etc)
- Just about enough water to cover whatever else you’ve put in there (it’s okay if some things stick out a bit above the water – the steam will get them)
The food things can be frozen or thawed, it doesn’t matter.
If you put frozen chicken in there, cook it for a bit longer before putting it in the bag though – like say an hour or so, and leave it in the bag for longer before eating it too, say at least 3 hours or so. If the chicken is still tough or pink, don’t eat it – put it back on the stove again for a while.
You can even re-freeze bits of leftover stew in smaller containers, making your own little easy microwaveable meals for later.
Wonderbag Bone Broth
The Wonderbag is also great for making bone broth – just boil the bones with some water for a few minutes, then leave the pot in the bag for many hours. Repeat 1-2 times a day for 2-3 days.
I freeze the resulting bone broth in small containers that I can finish using in a few days once it’s thawed again.
My creaky joints are very thankful for this.
Semi-lazy healthy burgers
This is for when you have a few extra braincells lying around and you want something a bit more interesting to eat.
I buy plain minced beef, and where I live it comes in packaging that makes the meat kind of square-shaped, if that makes sense. Anyway, I keep these packets in the freezer until I’m going to use them, and then I basically just unwrap it and throw the mince in the frying pan exactly as it is. Square, and frozen. It thaws and cooks at the same time, and when it’s thawed enough, I cut it up (still in the pan) into smaller pieces that fit on buns. So I end up with square patties that are still pink and juicy in the middle, and don’t have whatever unhealthy random things they add into the pre-packaged burger patties you find in shops.
You could use pre-packaged burger patties too – it’d work. Depending on what they put in them, it might be less healthy though. Using plain beef means you don’t get the added unhealthy stuff, and throwing it in the pan as-is means you don’t have to bother with mixing the mince in with onions and whatever other things that require far more effort. I used to think I had to mix the mince with stuff first, otherwise it wouldn’t make good enough burgers, but that’s not true at all. The lazy way is perfectly adequate!
Basically, throw the following in a frying pan:
- A few drops of cooking oil (I like olive or coconut oil)
- Plain minced beef (can be frozen)
- Stir-fry veggies (can be frozen)
While that’s cooking, cut open some buns, and put whatever butter, spreads, sauces and seasoning you like on them.
When it’s done frying, put the meat and veggie stuff on the buns.
- Frozen mixed veggies are the best thing ever if you haven’t already figured that out.
- Pre-mix your preferred seasonings in a container once, and then you can just use it from there every time.
- Loaves of bread can be kept in the freezer, and you can shove frozen slices in the toaster and it still makes good toast. Brown bread is healthier. Bonus points if you use those fancy wholewheat breads with the seeds in them. Those are nice.
- I try to always keep some fruit lying around for quick healthy snacks. Bananas disappear quickly, and they also spoil quickly, but apples remain edible for long periods of time, and that makes them very useful.
- I like to have some mixed peanuts and raisins on hand for when I want a quick snack. Warning: this is easy to overdo!
- A tub of yoghurt is handy for snacking too, and it’s also good enough on its own for a really really low-effort meal.
- A decent multivitamin every day is useful to make up for any vitamin/nutrient things you might be missing. Also, especially now with the pandemic, make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C and Zinc every day, those two are especially good for boosting your immune system.