Eating Cheap and Healthy Without Cooking

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One of the biggest challenges in a healthy lifestyle is coming up with fresh and tasty things to make on your own. The alternative option — dining out — is not only more expensive, but also much more difficult to fit into a healthy lifestyle. Eating at home gives you the benefit of knowing exactly what is going into your food and the ability to control portions, though at the cost of convenience. Plus, cooking every day can get monotonous and may chip away at your motivation to eat nutritious foods when the alternative is so much easier. Don’t let boredom derail your nutrition goals — just stop cooking!

Yes, it sounds counterintuitive to stop cooking to keep eating healthy, but it’s quite the opposite. Once you strip away all the extra steps and focus on basic ways to make delicious meals, you’ll see how easy it is to eat great without cooking a thing.

First, it’s good to note that there are diets out there specifically for those who don’t want to cook. A popular diet is the raw food diet. The idea is that cooking kills off essential nutrients and natural enzymes that help with the digestive process and ward off chronic disease. People on this diet eat food that is unprocessed and usually organic, and that does not need to be cooked. Some key foods in the raw food diet include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. However, this diet is not for everyone. If you’re looking for something a little more flexible, read on for tips that will help:

Non-Cooking Tools

Blender or Food Processor

Take away the chopping and prep by having a blender or food processor do the hard work for you. When you think of a blender, smoothies may be the first thing you think of, but don’t limit yourself! Shred cheese for salads, pulverize tomatoes for gazpacho or take this non-traditional approach to smoothies.

Slow Cooker

Despite the name, this helpful kitchen gadget takes all the effort out of cooking while still packing a big flavor punch. This hands-off approach applies to breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert! Most slow cooker recipes require you to cut and measure some ingredients, but once that’s done, you just throw it all together and let it simmer for hours at a time. This is a great tool for someone who works: Toss it all in before you leave for wor,k and by the time you get home, your healthy dinner will be waiting for you!

Mason Jars

Gradual and steady just like a slow cooker, mason jars are helpful tools for a cold method of “cooking.” Start with a dry base like chia seeds or oats and add in a liquid for absorption overnight. Mason jars are great for a big prep on Sunday and the ability to grab and go with your meal the rest of the week. Overnight oats just get better the longer they sit!

No-Cook Recipes

Try these easy and fun recipes. Print them for use later!

Shitake Mushroom “Sushi” Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cut into strips
  • 1½ Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1½ Tbsp tamari
  • 3 raw (untoasted) nori
  • 2 cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ⅛ red cabbage, sliced
  • Sunflower sprouts

Instructions

  1. Place the jicama in a blender or food processor and pulse until there are small pieces about the size of rice.
  2. Place your jicama rice in a nut bag and strain out all the excess water.
  3. Combine mushrooms, sesame oil and tamari in a bowl and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes. Place a sheet of nori on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down.
  4. Place the jicama in a mixing bowl and combine with the cucumbers, avocado, cabbage, sunflower sprouts, sea salt and rice wine vinegar.
  5. Spread a thin layer of “rice” over the bottom half of the sheet.
  6. Assemble filling ingredients in the roll.
  7. Use the rolling mat to get a nice tight roll. Seal the nori with the liquid sauce from your mushrooms.
  8. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into eight pieces. Repeat two times.

Salted Turtle Overnight Oats

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 medjool date, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons chopped pecans
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a pint mason jar, stir together almond milk, date, vanilla and unsweetened cocoa powder until all combined.
  2. Stir in rolled oats.
  3. Place on lid and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.
  4. Stir in a little extra almond milk to loosen oats up and to get the consistency you like.
  5. Stir in maple syrup. Start with one teaspoon then give it a taste. If you need more sweetness then add in the rest.
  6. Sprinkle with pecans and salt. Enjoy.

Mason Jar Zucchini Pasta Salad
With Avocado Spinach Dressing

Ingredients

Avocado Spinach Dressing

  • 1 ½ cups spiraled zucchini
  • ½ cup shelled edamame
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes

Optional:

  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives
  • ½ cup fresh packed spinach
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Spiral or thinly slice zucchini. Set aside.
  2. In a high powdered blender, mix dressing ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour ½ the dressing into the bottom of two mason jars.
  4. Add celery on top of dressing.
  5. Add peppers on top of celery then top with edamame or chicken.
  6. Sprinkle feta cheese then add tomatoes and olives.
  7. Place ½ the spiraled zucchini into each mason jar.
  8. Cover and refrigerate.
  9. Once ready to eat, shake the jar vigorously and pour onto a plate. Toss with fork if needed to mix dressing.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (17.5 fluid ounce) bottle buffalo wing sauce, divided
  • ½ (1 ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken breasts into a slow cooker and pour in ¾ of the wing sauce and the ranch dressing mix. Cover and cook on low for six to seven hours.
  2. Once the chicken has cooked, add the butter and shred the meat finely with two forks. Pile the meat onto the hoagie rolls and splash with the remaining buffalo wing sauce to serve.

About 

Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find out more about her on Google+.

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