If you’re a die-hard meal prepper, you’re probably hard at work on any given Sunday cooking chicken breasts, boiling a dozen eggs, roasting a rainbow of veggies and steaming a whole lot of brown rice. While this is a great way to stay on top of healthy eating and promote weight loss, sometimes you want to spend less time in the kitchen — with the stove off — especially when it’s hot out.
Here, RDs share their best tips for no-cook meal prep:
When it comes to eating more fiber-rich veggies, Anne Mauney, RD, preps them two different ways at the same time. “I slice half into snackable pieces, and then dice the rest to add to salads or grain bowls,” she says.
Soup in the summer sounds too hot — unless you’re making a chilled gazpacho. In your blender, combine peak-of-season produce, like tomatoes, summer squash, herbs, cucumbers and peppers, and blend with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until it’s a pleasingly chunky-yet-smooth texture, says Sarah Krieger, RD.
You can spiralize a variety of veggies as a base for refreshing salads or alternative pasta. Zucchini is the classic, but you can also use the tool for beets, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers and jicama. If you’re pressed for time and your budget allows, Krieger notes that you can splurge on already-prepared spiralized veggies, found in the refrigerated section at some grocery stores.
Not only will it save you time, but buying a rotisserie chicken is also less expensive than eating several meals out. Mauney considers rotisserie chicken one of the cornerstones of quick and easy meals. She uses it to fill sandwiches, make tacos and lettuce wraps, or as a topping for a sweet potato. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy both white and dark meat chicken, which each have their own health benefits.
These are made by combining nuts and dried fruit in a food processor, then stirring in other mix-ins (like oats, shredded coconut, cinnamon and vanilla) and rolling into a ball. “The flavors can be completely customizable to your taste preferences, and the result makes for a super portable snack,” says Mauney.
Try the easiest two-ingredient no-cook snack ever from Krieger: cubed melon (which you can also buy pre-cut in the fruit section at the grocery store) wrapped with lean deli meat. Not only is it a delicious sweet-savory snack, but it will help you up your protein intake.
“If you need a super convenient grab-and-go breakfast, try overnight oats,” says Krieger. To make this happen, take individual containers and add in equal amounts of dried oats, milk of your choice and yogurt. Stir together and add frozen fruit (another hack that saves chopping time and results in a sweet topping), cinnamon, seeds and/or nuts. Store in the fridge overnight. You can also buy pre-packaged overnight oats and soak them. Either way, cool, satisfying oats await you the next morning.