Hi everyone! I have my wonderful intern, Hope, popping in to share some of her easy meal and snack ideas, while I covet some newborn snuggles. Hopefully these will inspire you to try some new things this week!
My golden rule when it comes to food: if it’s easy and delicious, sign me up. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking the fun recipes—you know, the ones with twelve steps that take three days to complete—but most of the time, I don’t feel like being in the kitchen that long.
If all cooking was that tedious, I’d just avoid it altogether. But thankfully, it doesn’t have to be.
As a college student, I mastered the art of the microwave about two weeks after moving into the dorm. Even now that I live in a house off-campus, some of the quick meals that I mastered when I didn’t have easy access to a kitchen are still my favorites. They’re delicious, efficient, and light on the clean-up.
And just because you’re cutting down on time doesn’t mean you’re skimping on flavor, either. By pairing pre-made products with fresh produce, you won’t even notice that you cut a few corners.
These options range from small snacks to full meals, so when you’re choosing, make sure to listen to your hunger level. If you’re pretty hungry but craving snack foods, don’t be afraid to pair a few snacks and make a full meal out of them. The most important thing is that you’re listening to your body.
1. Macaroni and Cheese (And Add- In’s)
This, in my mind, is the perfect meal. You’re getting creamy comfort food and a variety of macro- and micronutrients, all in less than 10 minutes. Just keep a few boxes of your favorite frozen macaroni and cheese on hand, and mix in whatever protein and vegetables you have in the fridge.
My favorite combination is chicken and broccoli. I normally microwave the macaroni and cheese first and let it sit while I prepare the rest. Then, to steam the broccoli, add a splash of water to a microwave-safe bowl filled with broccoli, cover, and microwave for 3-3.5 minutes.
Once that’s done, microwave some leftover chicken, and stir it all together. Voila! That’s the easiest dinner you’ve ever made.
Sarah’s toddler mac and cheese is also a great base and a fun new way to spice up mac and cheese.
2. Chocolate Covered Frozen Fruit
This one goes out to all of you with a sweet tooth, including myself. Basically, grab a bag of your favorite frozen fruit (be careful to choose a semi-soft one, though) and a bag of chocolate chips. Dump 1 cup of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted (stirring every 30 seconds), then drizzle over 3 cups of frozen fruit, spread out on a baking sheet.
Freeze until the chocolate is hardened, then transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge. You may want to thaw this snack for 5 minutes or so before digging in.
Some of my favorite fruits to use with this recipe are blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. If you’re feeling super confident, you can even use bananas. When I go this route, I like to make little sandwiches with two banana slices and peanut butter in between.
I freeze those until they’re solid then dip them in melted chocolate and freeze them again. This is a great option if you’re going for something with a little more substance!
3. Dressed Up Fresh Vegetables
I’m hooked on tomatoes right now—so hooked that I eat at least 3 tomatoes a day (it’s weird, I know). Sometimes I just slice them up and add salt and pepper, but if I’m needing something more filling, I’ll add cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, or feta), fresh basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Talk about fresh flavors!
If tomatoes aren’t your thing, you can always go with your favorite vegetable (or fruit). Some fun combinations that I’ve seen lately are cucumber and watermelon with mint and feta or tomato and mango with cilantro.
You can even make a meal out of it by pairing with grilled meat and your favorite carb, like quinoa, rice, or rolls.
4. Dips and Dippers
Chips and dip are one of my favorite party foods, but they always seem to slip my mind when I’m having a snack at home. I love that you can match a variety of dippers with a variety of dips to match whatever mood you’re in. Plus, you can buy everything pre-made, or you can experiment with dip recipes at home.
I’ll always be a huge fan of veggies and ranch, so that’s my savory go-to. However, I’ve been super into dessert dips recently. One of my new favorites has been a Monster Cookie Dip that I recently posted on my blog—it’s a heavenly combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
I served this dip with graham crackers and green apple slices, but you could also choose pretzels (regular or chocolate-covered), animal crackers, or other fruits.
5. Leftover Tacos
Leftover tacos are probably the easiest thing on this list to make. Simply reheat your leftovers, throw them in a tortilla, and drizzle with an appropriate sauce. Not to mention that tacos are so “in” right now, so you’re being both efficient and trendy.
The best leftover tacos I’ve ever had were a complete accident. We had cooked a huge southern meal the night before and had tons of pulled pork barbeque and vinegar slaw leftover.
For lunch the next day, we layered the pork, slaw, and a vinegar-based barbeque sauce in a corn tortilla. They were healthy, resourceful, and quick, and you wouldn’t have even known that they happened by chance.
I’ll be the first to admit that I always forget that toast exists. I often put it out of my mind because it’s so simple, but a college budget has brought it back into my regular meal rotations, and I’m loving it.
Meal prepping toast (mentally) has been a game-changer because Monday could be peanut butter and banana toast, Tuesday could be avocado toast, Wednesday could be egg and cheese toast… you get the point.
You can even add flavor by what type of bread you use—I really enjoy sourdough or seeded varieties, like Dave’s Killer Bread.
But ultimately, if you’re craving something, honor that craving. It may take a little more time or a little more effort to whip up, but your body will thank you later. Eating intuitively is all about listening to your body in what you eat and how you exercise, so whatever that is for you, I hope you choose it.