Add to Favorites

Minimal Prep Cooking

By: Courtney Moore MS, RDN, LD


One of the most asked questions for us is – “How can I cook nourishing foods, but not spend hours upon hours in the kitchen each day or week?” Did you know that you DON’T have to spend hours and hours of cooking and prepping to eat nourishing food and stay on track? Today, we are going to walk through some ways to think through of how you can cook for yourself but also do it quickly and efficiently.


The idea here is to go back to the principle of “carbohydrate + protein + heart-healthy fat + color” with your meals. That is the “formula” we want to follow when preparing our meals. So, keeping that structure in mind, we can easily build from there.


First, choose your protein.


It could be chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese, fish, etc. When trying to think of proteins that are easy think prepared options from the store. Rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken in the refrigerated section, pre-cooked hardboiled eggs, canned tuna, etc. If pre-cooked or prepared isn’t an option, try to choose one meat for the week and batch cook a big amount so you can eat on it for the week. Shredded pork or chicken in the crockpot, grill, bake or air-fry your favorite option.


Next, choose your carbohydrate.


Think starchy veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc. To keep the cooking to a minimum, opt for microwave-ready grains and vegetables as well as pre-cut fruits & veggies. This will keep the prep time to a minimum and make it much easier to throw things together. This can also be as easy as grabbing a whole-wheat, high-fiber tortilla to make quick tacos or a wrap.


Then choose your heart-healthy fat.


This could be avocado, heart-healthy oils (like 1 Tbsp. olive oil), nut butter 1-2 Tbsp., etc.

An added bonus step is to add color.


These are all of the non-starchy veggies that offer lots of nutrients while not adding much in any of the protein, carbohydrate or fat categories. The more color the better here – peppers, cucumbers, carrots, onions, beets, cauliflower, tomatoes, etc. Back to what we mentioned before, look for microwave-ready, steamer bags and/or pre-cut or prepared options for these foods to save time!


Lastly, and can be considered another bonus step: flavor. These can add a little extra boost or add more flavor to your meal. Buffalo sauce, hot sauce, Taziki sauce, spices, marinara, etc.

Quick Meal Ideas

Now that we have explained it, let’s put it into action. Below are just few options that you could mix and match together for some quick and nutrient full meals! If you need more ideas or a customized meal plan, we're here to help!


  • 3-4oz. rotisserie chicken diced + 2 C. bag salad + 1-2T. olive oil based dressing + 1 small apple
  • 3-4oz. shredded chicken + ½ C. brown rice + steamer veggies of broccoli & cauliflower
  • 3-4oz. ground beef + ½ C. rice + ¼ C. black beans + ¼ avocado
  • 3-4oz. baked pork tenderloin (or pre-cooked from store) + ½ potato + sautéed spinach in 1 T. olive oil
  • 3-4oz. pre-cooked grilled chicken from store (freezer or refrigerator section) + ½ C. rice + steamer veggies + ¼ avocado + 1 T. soy sauce drizzle
  • 3-4oz. shredded pork loin + ½ C. baked sweet potatoes + sautéed broccoli + 2 T. hot sauce
  • 2-3 Eggs (3-4 Egg whites) + ½ C. black beans + ¼ Avocado + sautéed bell peppers
  • 2-3 Eggs (3-4 egg whites) + low-carb, high-fiber tortilla + salsa + ¼ Avocado
  • ½ C. low-fat cottage cheese + 2 T. pumpkin seeds + 1 C. berries
  • ¾ C. Banzaâ pasta + marinara sauce + spinach + 1 tsp. olive oil drizzle

It can be super simple once you start thinking in the “shortcut” ways. Look around your grocery store for pre-cooked meats in the freezer or refrigerated sections … they are often there, but easily missed! Be open to spending a tad bit more in the produce section for the pre-sliced, pre-washed fruits and veggies that will make your life easier. Look for easy freezer veggies that are ready to be steamed in the bag or easy to throw in a bowl to microwave while you’re getting other things out. Finally, explore our tips on buying back time in the kitchen.


Making nutrient dense foods doesn’t have to take hours in the kitchen. Once you start to open your mind and eyes to some easy and efficient ways, the options can be endless!


Be the first to leave a comment on this post.

Leave a comment

To leave a comment, please log in / sign up