Healthier PBJ equivalents
August 4, 2013 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Hi! What is as easy to throw together as a PBJ sandwich, but healthier? You can answer the question without reading what's below if you want! I eat most things, though functionally I am vegetarian at home.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in why I am asking this:

I am depressed and PBJ is my go-to for those times I can't really do much. I feel okay about that. BUT/AND I am working on trying to automate/simplify my ADLs and routines as much as possible so that when I am depressed, it's less like a bomb goes off in the middle of my life and it takes more time to crawl out of the hole because my house is a mess and I don't have any food. And that means just building in the easier solutions now so they're easier to hold onto. So I would like to just start making shit that takes less time and is ready when I need it and easier to deal with, rather than doing this THING wherein I am doing all this elaborate meal planning and cooking and stuff for a couple weeks and then totally can't for a few days and everything gets messed up.

(Also I am going to the grocery store in a minute?)
posted by liketitanic to Food & Drink (49 answers total) 112 users marked this as a favorite
hunk of fresh mozzarella and nice bread
humus, pickles, tomato on a toasted or untoasted bagel
different nut butters, and slap a banana in there and/or apple slice
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:08 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I try to keep stuff around that I can eat cold/unprepared - canned olives, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, nut, frozen fruit. Canned tuna if you eat fish. Protein and fat are key - carb-y snacks don't fill me up and generally make me feel terrible.

I also keep a stock of stuff to make simple soups from - frozen veggies, frozen chicken broth, cans of coconut milk, curry paste and tamarind for thai curries. I also keep an emergency stash of chili fixings - canned tomatoes and black beans, you can skip the meat just fine. Anything that involves dumping two or three containers into a pot and heating for ten minutes is good.

The other thing that I need to do to avoid the Pizza Spiral of Doom is keep the dishes washed, and that is freaking hard. But making myself do it when I'm not already in a junk-food coma makes it easier to force myself through when I'm not really feeling it.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:14 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

The other thing that I need to do to avoid the Pizza Spiral of Doom is keep the dishes washed, and that is freaking hard.

I have decided to buy emergency disposable plates and forks!!!!!
posted by liketitanic at 6:17 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

I understand how difficult it can be to feed ourselves when we're down with the blues. I really like Sunflower butter with grapes on raisin bread ~ keeps me full for quite awhile and not so full of fat and sugar as a PBJ
posted by Jeanne3 at 6:17 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am fond of bananas with cheddar cheese. And if you get the sliced cheese you won't need to wash up any dishes.
posted by florencetnoa at 6:21 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sugar-free peanut butter or almond butter with whole-fruit sugar free fruit spread on 100% whole wheat bread.

If your routine is PB&J, it might be giving you some comfort that you don't get out of other types of foods. Doesn't mean it has to be unhealthy.

Keeping some cans of healthy food that only needs to be heated is very helpful when Stuff Happens that makes it hard to keep up with food prep. Canned, because all you have to do is buy it and put it on the shelf, and it will happily wait there unspoiled until needed.
posted by yohko at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hummus and crackers/veggies.
posted by brujita at 6:24 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eggs, baked in a ramekin. You can put a tomato slice on the bottom or pretty much any veggie, cover it with bread crumbs or cheese, put some cream or milk in. Bake at 325 for 12 minutes. It's really easy.

Chips or crackers with salsa or another kind of dip.
posted by jeather at 6:26 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Which part of the PBJ are you trying to eliminate? The bread, because it's solid starch? The jelly, because it's full of sugar? The peanut butter, because it's high in fat?

The advice you're getting here is all over the place, because it's not clear what your target "healthy food" looks like. You could eat more fresh fruit, but fresh fruit is also very sweet. You could buy more expensive bread, but it would still be solid starch. You could buy a different kind of nut butter, but it would still be high in fat.

Alternatively, you could eat celery sticks, which would be free of all nutrients, but I doubt that's what you're really after.
posted by Nomyte at 6:27 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not trying to eliminate it, just make better choices sometimes, with food AS EASY TO PUT TOGETHER AS a sandwich, not a sandwich with "healthier" elements. So sure, more protein, less fat and sugar, but I'm fine with the suggestions I'm getting--if I had wanted to include more parameters, I would have.
posted by liketitanic at 6:30 PM on August 4, 2013

I feel you. I am currently a stay-at-home wife and just quit my work-from-home job. So since I do dishes and cook most often, sometimes I REALLY don't want to wash anything or chop anything or .. uhg.

Veggies and fruits. You could wash and chop them right when you get home for easier grabbing and eating. Canned are good too, but a lot of canned fruits have added sugars that you may be wanting to avoid. Bananas are easy too, they are my go-to fruit. I snack on Larabars often. I also snack on wheat thins with cream cheese.

Wraps can also be good. Just grab a tortilla (I like the spinach ones), add some cream cheese or other condiment, lunch meat, pickle (and/or other veggies) and roll it up. Really quick and you get more of a variety of food and flavors. You can easily switch up the flavor by changing out the condiments, toppings, and lunch meats. That makes you less bored. I also usually add peperoni.

Also easier healthy habits like buying wheat bread and buying fruits you will eat for sure. Oh and maybe look up some easy crock pot meals? There are many that involve you tossing in some ingredients, setting it for day, then you have leftovers for a good while, making it easier to not have to cook. They also sell crock pot liners that you just throw away so you don't have to clean the crock pot!
posted by Crystalinne at 6:32 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cereal. Whatever your favourite cereal is, with berries or bananas if you can manage those.
posted by jeather at 6:37 PM on August 4, 2013

I mash half an avocado with a can of tuna fish and eat it with the healthiest chips I can buy. One dish to rinse out.
posted by cda at 6:39 PM on August 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

-baby carrots dipped in peanut butter
-bagel with cream cheese
-dried fruit with nuts (keep the ratio about even or more nuts and it should fill you up okay)
-glass of milk
-greek or other full fat yogurt
-cheese sticks
-whole apples (I think a bag of small apples is perfect)
-bananas dipped in cheerios
-can of beans dumped over salad mix becomes a bean salad
-roast chicken or turkey (can be eaten cold or microwaved)

For added searching ability, try school lunch suggestions. Parents packing lunches for their kids have about the same parameters.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:42 PM on August 4, 2013

'As easy as PBJ' also suggests to me that, like PBJ, the ingredients are easily kept on hand, with fairly stable shelf life. There are lots of easy, healthy things that require fresh and/or ripe ingredients: like one ripe avocado, half a lime, salt, and some veggies, you got a basic guacamole for healthy veggie dipping.

But if you don't have fresh ingredients, here's an alternative: can of tomatoes, one or two chiles from a can of chipotle in adobo, half an onion, and some salt. Whizz them up in a food processor. If you have some fresh lime or lemon, and/or green herbs, great! Add a little of that. Instant chipotle salsa. A few tortilla chips are not too bad for you. Alternatively, some whole wheat pita chips are even healthier.
posted by fikri at 6:54 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Salad! Throw on something proteiny to really make it a meal-- nuts, cheese, tofu, etc. Fruit's nice too.

So yeah, for a tasty, healthy, pretty much zero-effort meal, just put some decent premade salad dressing onto prewashed bagged greens. Et voilà. It literally doesn't get easier than this.

For 5% more effort and 75% more deliciousness*, make your own dressing (this takes literally one minute at its simplest).

For 20% more effort and 90% more crispy deliciousness*, get a salad spinner and cut your own lettuce off the head.

Salad is great for when you feel like you just need something IN UR MOUTH FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, because if you don't drown it in dressing, you can eat pretty much infinite salad and it's still healthy. Yay salad!

*numbers may vary
posted by threeants at 6:55 PM on August 4, 2013

Fresh foods are OK. I am just going to get grocery delivery sometimes, and also there is a produce market cattycorner from my apt that I can sometimes drag myself to.
posted by liketitanic at 6:55 PM on August 4, 2013

Almond butter and sugar-free jam? On while grain toast?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:59 PM on August 4, 2013

A variety of microwaveable Indian food and packets of microwaveable rice.
posted by MsMolly at 7:01 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whole wheat or white flour tortillas, canned refried beans (plain or with jalapeños), jarred salsa from the fridge, optionally a slice of cheese. Roll up and microwave until warm or until the cheese melts. I ate this a lot when my babies were small and I needed good food in a hurry.
posted by Ery at 7:02 PM on August 4, 2013

If you use a smoked cheese with tomato and lettuce on toast with mayo, it's tastes a lot like a BLT.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:02 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The baked eggs suggestion is really good--in addition to the tomato slice, you can also fancy it up with herbs from a tube (they are easier and last longer than fresh ones, although if you can keep herb plants alive in a kitchen window, that's better) or with smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon in the vacuum pack makes a good meal in its own right. Serve it on a bagel with cream cheese and capers (though that adds back in the fat and the bread). Or just eat it on Wasa rye crackers, again, herbs from a tube help. Cans of tuna are a pretty quick meal; salmon and chicken also come in cans. Just eat it from the can with a fork, have pickles on the side, or mix it with mustard or mayo. I like sardines and smoked oysters in the can, too, with saltines and blue cheese if I'm feeling fancy.

Can of white beans, can of tuna, olive oil and a tomato is a good salad, that only requires opening cans and slicing a tomato. It only dirties the knife and the bowl you eat it out of. If you make it in a bigger pyrex bowl, you just store the leftovers and have two meals. Same with a can of black beans, can of corn, and a tablespoon or two of salsa. Can of chickpeas, some dried cranberries, red onion and a little olive oil is another variation. In a different vein, vegetarian refried beans make quick burritos with a little salsa or canned jalepenos.

When I've been too busy, stressed or tired to cook, I had a lot of meals out of cans of beans. I also had a lot that were a sliced apple with cheddar cheese and a handful of mixed nuts. Or baby carrots and hummus.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:03 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I love avocado and arugula in a pita. It tastes so good and I'm always surprised by how filling it is. Spinach can be substituted for arugula too if you like.

I also like:
-hummus and pita
-almond butter and banana sandwiches (ABB sandwiches :D )
-your favourite cereal (mine is Just Right or Kashi) + milk (I like almond milk) + fruit (berries, or banana or apple or pear slices)
posted by foxjacket at 7:04 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try a sort of Ploughman's lunch concept, where you go with individually foods that just so happen to work okay together. Get a sack of rolls, a couple of different cheeses, and a few different kinds of fruit, and if you like things like pickles get those too, and maybe hardboil a few eggs in advance - and then, when you want lunch, you grab a roll, grab a hunk of whatever kind of cheese you feel like, grab an orange or an apple or a peach or whatever, and the pickles or a hardboiled egg or whatever if you wanted that too, and then you just eat them.

Hell, this is one of my favorite lunches ever - apple, really good cheddar cheese, and a crusty roll - and I first had it on a GOOD day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 PM on August 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

quesadillas! nothing in this world is easier than heating up cheese between some tortillas.

ok, ok, they're not the healthiest thing in the world. there's no quinoa or kale involved (though nothing's stopping you from adding some kale in there) but they're delicious and easy and more satisfying than cheese and tortillas ought to be. put some avocado with it too for legit outer space awesomeness.
posted by kerning at 7:14 PM on August 4, 2013

oh and if you drink, pick up a bottle of cheap champagne and some sorbet (or hell, even vanilla ice cream) and make yourself some champagne floats. when i've got a mean case of the sads and overwhelmeds, i love a good champagne float. it somehow manages to cheer you up and make you feel fancy all at the same time, like the queen herself is gonna pop over to your place with a truckload of corgis to gossip about kate middleton.
posted by kerning at 7:20 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

These are all Real Good Ideas, thank you!!!!!
posted by liketitanic at 7:26 PM on August 4, 2013

Yogurt with frozen fruit. I buy a bag of frozen whatever is inexpensive, and a tub of vanilla yogurt. Stoneyfield Organic with cream on top if I'm feeling flush, store brand cheap stuff if I'm feeling poor. Toss a serving of frozen fruit in a bowl, glop some yogurt on top. Stir it up and wait for the fruit to thaw. Thaw time is approximately one shower. This is good for depression because what the fuck else am I going to do while I wait for the stupid fruit to thaw? Fine, I'll wash my hair. Not because I want to. But because I don't have anything better to do.

Another option is hard boiled eggs. If you can get yourself into the habit of boiling eggs one day a week, peeling them when they're still easy to deal with, and keeping them in an airtight container. I say the peeling part because when I'm depressed, peeling day old boiled eggs sucks and makes me cry. But when the eggs slip right out of their warm shells it feels like a tiny victory that I can celebrate. (Don't eat half a dozen boiled eggs in one sitting unless you really enjoy farting.)

Instant oatmeal. From the packets, which I know are way more expensive and way less healthful than the big canister. But for me, two packets is the right amount, and you don't have to stand around or think about flavoring the way you do with the plain stuff. In that vein, granola bars can be a lifesaver. A granola bar and an apple smeared with peanut butter can get you through a lot. Apples can last a long time, so you can buy a lot of them when you feel the depression coming, or just get them delivered. Buy a few very green bananas and then you can have ripe bananas at some point. Naval oranges too, when it's the right season. The scent of peeling an orange is refreshing to boot. Peanut butter toast and a naval orange. Yes, it's lots more work than pb&j, because toasting and peeling and washing your hands to get the orange oil off you. But. It's good. I promise that if the funk is not too deep you might enjoy it. Florida oranges are less work. You just quarter them and suck the orange pulp off the peel, then spit out the seeds.

Frozen (fake) meatballs. You can throw those into a pan with jarred pasta sauce and some frozen veggies like peas or carrots to warm through while pasta water boils. That's also more work than pb&j, I realize, but it's not really like assembling a whole meal, and the pasta pan doesn't need as much scrubbing as dishes from "real" cooking. This is what I tell myself. For even less work, I get a small can of tomato sauce, a generous pat of butter, and swirl that around with cooked angel hair pasta in the pan I cooked the pasta in. Pour that into a bowl. This is not healthy at all. But sometimes you just need to clear the lowest bar, which would be ramen. This is half a step above ramen. It's super comforting to me because it's the food I associate with my bio mom.

Baked potato. This requires a lot of waiting around for the potato to bake. You can speed things up by pre-microwaving it. Fill with butter and sour cream or whatever else you like. Ok, it's not healthier at all. It's arguably worse. But it's variety, and damn a baked potato can be so comforting. And maybe you'll have it with some veggies. Fine, have a baked sweet potato, that might feel more like a vegetable.

Like EmpressCallipygos, I also enjoy a ploughman's lunch. In place of the rolls I do crackers. Because crackers last longer. I only buy boxes of crackers on sale and keep them around. Bread...I have to think about bread, and then it's stale, or moldy and that makes me feel like a failure. But crackers....crackers I can handle. A ziplock bag will keep crackers edible for kind of a while. And remember that you can get all kinds of pickles. Pickled beets are a nice change from pickled cucumbers. If you like kimchi you can keep some of that around. Ditto sauerkraut. If you pay extra for pre-sliced cheese, this is super easy.

Tacos can be as simple as beans and sour cream and/or cheese, maybe with a slice of tomato and/or onion if you have one around. For those times when waiting to heat a quesadilla through is too much effort. Just microwave some beans, get a tortilla a little warm, (you can skip that part) and throw them together. Which, also not healthier than a pb&j, but comforting.

If you're getting salad greens, you can use beans on a salad. Beans, a fruit, which can be dried cranberries or strawberries, plus dressing is good. You can also do a fruit and a nut in your greens. You can also just hack up a head of romaine and put dressing on it if that is at all satisfying to you. I find that for me the perfect size salad is half a head of romaine, one small to medium tomato and 1/3 can of beans like garbanzo or cannellini, or or two to three strawberries with some nuts, like 1/4 cup. Carrots, onions, olives, all of that is just more work than I want to put into a salad even when I'm not depressed.

Finally, do you freeze things ahead? I make big batches of lasagne when I live in a place with freezer space. I freeze single or double servings. Then, I can take out the night before. This is good when I am not depressed, but it's a lifesaver when I am depressed. You can make lasagne with all kinds of veggies and as much or as little cheese as you want. You can do this with chili too. A lot of nights you'll go to bed without taking anything out of the freezer, but the nights you do, and lunch is just there the next day, home made and reminding you that you love yourself...well. I won't lie and say those reminders are always super great, because sometimes being up against depression and remembering a time when I love(d) myself is extra hurty. But, keeping fed is a mission, and doing some extra work up front is worth it, even (especially?) when depressed me isn't grateful for the gift.

And kudos to you for doing the thinking ahead work on this. You are worth this care and consideration. We are all worth this care and consideration.
posted by bilabial at 7:49 PM on August 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

Take advantage of those times that you DO feel like "elaborate meal planning and cooking and stuff" and freeze single-serving portions of whatever it is that you've done. Soups, pastas, casseroles, lasagna... more stuff freezes well than you might guess.

There is something intensely gratifying about being able to pull food out of the freezer knowing that you made it. Good for both feeding yourself and improving your mood.

(Oh, I guess exactly what bilabial said at the end there)
posted by laeren at 8:20 PM on August 4, 2013

Nutrition and convenience=my perfect menu.

I try to eat foods that keep my blood sugar from fluctuating too much and get my omega 3s and iron so I generally feel better.

Every few weeks, I pre-mix dry ingredients into a huge batch of the most awesome oatmeal-- I get the large can of Old Fashioned oatmeal from the store, mix in dried cranberries/other fruit, crushed walnuts or pecans, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Gets iron, omega 3's and 6's, antioxidants, fiber, and overall is a great option for keeping blood sugar levels even. Just scoop it into a bowl and either add boiling water or zap in microwave for a minute and a half or so.

Chobani Greek Yogurt-- lots of protein, calcium, comes in a variety of flavors. A good follow up/second-breakfast snack to keep blood sugar levels even.

Try canned Salmon also for the omega 3. I often mix a can or pouch of salmon with a little olive oil, black pepper, capers, and cheese and eat with crackers.

Costco has cases of plain Sabra hummus in individual packs that are great to tote around for lunch.

Apples are a great easy snack that also keep awhile. I find that the crunching is a stress reliever as well. Carrots, too.

I am also a fan of the black beans + rotel heated up in a pan with some cheese on top for dinner.

If I'm feeling peckish before bed, I will sometimes swig a glass of soy milk. I switched from regular milk b/c I prefer the taste of soy milk and it lasts waaaay longer, so it doesn't go bad in the fridge and I don't have to go to the store every few days for milk.

Frozen vegetables are awesome too-- they can be microwaved in the bag and dumped out onto a plate.

Great question!
posted by Schielisque at 8:56 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Celery sticks or crackers with pb or cheese or egg salad.

Pickled things (eggs, veg, whatever).
posted by windykites at 9:03 PM on August 4, 2013

One more quick & easy with three ingredients:
1) Tortillas
2) Hummus
3) Rainbow slaw -- sometimes known by different names, but it's essentially a bag of shredded veggies. The kind I always buy is in the bagged salads section next to the regular coleslaw mix and contains dry shredded cabbage, broccoli and carrots. Though I have seen various recipes for dressed versions (example 1 and 2). Diner's choice...though a dressing might be weird with the hummus. And those require more work.

Spread the hummus on the tortilla. Sprinkle with generous quantity of rainbow slaw. Swaddle. Eat.

It's healthy, crunchy and fast! First discovered this as a great trail snack while hiking, but I love it at any time.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 9:06 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been loving smoothies in my current depression. Most basic formulation for me is one banana (frozen is better but not is perfectly fine), a heaping spoonful or two of peanut butter, about half a cup of milk (okay to eyeball this), and a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt, whizzed in the blender for thirty seconds. Sometimes a handful of greens if I've got those on hand; they don't add a strong taste to the smoothie, and throwing them in the blender feels a lot easier to do than cooking and flavoring them.

You can make all kinds of variants from here; use different nut butters (or no not butter at all), use juices as your base liquid instead of milk, add different fruits, throw in a spoonful of cocoa powder if it goes well with your fruits of choice.

Also, if you've got the counter space, leave the blender base on the counter near a plug at all times. Having all your appliances and tools at the ready is a large part of the battle.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:08 PM on August 4, 2013

At times when I've known I'll be in this mode for a while, I've stocked up on

-pre-cut veggies and dip, which I find delicious enough that I'll get through it all (justifying the extra cost, for sure), and yet, so many veggie health points, and if you eat it out of the container, no dishes
-(vegetarian) taco stuff, because I always like tacos, the ingredient combos can be made healthier or more pleasing based on what I want each day or turned into a taco salad or whatever , and if you eat them for a few days in a row you only have to hack up some lettuce and tomato like once, and you can be super lazy after that
-fresh berries, which as with the pre-cut veggies are not the cheapest option, but again are delicious enough I won't let them go bad, no work, totally good for me, no dishes if I want
-Packaged Indian foods

Something I eat more often now based on the merging of my boyfriend's dinner patterns and mine is eating a big pile of plain veggies from those frozen steamer bags with a meat alternative of some kind (microwaved), it's pretty boring and I don't want to rely on faux meats too often, but it gets the job done and can be plucked from the freezer with no planning ahead. Also, I make my PBJs with unsweetened peanut butter, the low sugar Smuckers jams, and decent tasting whole wheat breads (usually the double-wrapped kind if I eat a brand name bread).
posted by zizania at 9:33 PM on August 4, 2013

Oh, and adding on to the smoothies idea, the mason jars without the wide mouth fit into basically every blender and it's so, SO much easier to make a single-serving smoothie without the large blender jar involved.
posted by zizania at 9:38 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sardine-avocado sandwiches. You can do as much or as little of the fancy stuff as you'd like.
posted by yaymukund at 9:49 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, this very fit fellow that I know eats PBJ sandwiches for lunch every single day. He's an active fellow with the stereotypical athlete's physique, so I imagine he's not the type to have to watch his weight. And I'd go crazy eating the same thing everyday, but the lesson here is that PBJ sandwiches are reasonably healthy as they are, so long as you use ingredients that are as natural and unprocessed as possible (especially whole grain bread), and you don't eat too many of them.
posted by wutangclan at 2:30 AM on August 5, 2013

Bread, Cheese, melt in microwave or toaster oven, add Hummus.

Go to trader joes and get the big loaf of bread with garlic in there, some shredded cheese and the hummus. Used to be my lunch every day at work. So easy and delicious.
posted by saul wright at 4:44 AM on August 5, 2013

posted by liketitanic at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

I am not a fan of most frozen things, but the really expensive, high quality ones...yum.

For examply, Amy's Cheese Enchiladas are pretty damn good. Microwave and eat out of the container. Easy Peasy.

I can't do wheat, but if I could, there are ton of burritos that migh be yummy. Experiement around. Evol, Amys, etc.

Breakfast sandwiches too. Something hot in the morning is good.

Supermarkets are making soup now, you might want to try that. Soup is filling and warm and comforting.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:12 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do a lot of crackers and cheese. Cereal and milk is super easy and can be both healthy and filling. Get eggs, hard-boil them when you have some energy, and you've got twelve snacks ready to go. In the frozen veggies aisle, they've started to sell microwaveable veggie sides/lunches (broccoli and rice in cheese sauce as opposed to plain frozen broccoli)--I LOVE those for when I can't make myself make anything. Stick it in the microwave, ignore it for six minutes, dump it on a plate, eat it. Perfect!
posted by epj at 8:16 AM on August 5, 2013

I also love PBJ. I buy double-fiber wheat bread, reduced-fat peanut butter, and usually sub the jelly for sliced banana.
posted by radioamy at 9:52 AM on August 5, 2013

If you're wanting to stay veg at home my frozen meatballs suggestion is probably no good. But assuming you have a microwave, there are a lot of things you can nuke (like those steamer bags of frozen vegetables) and pour jarred tomato sauce over. Pasta's too difficult, but you can buy shelf-stable single (or double) serving microwave rice (including brown and jasmine) at most grocery stores. Frozen rice tastes a little better, though it requires decanting to a dish for microwaving.

I am also a huge fan of the Tasty Bite packets of Indian foods. The palak paneer is great, as are the Madras lentils. They also keep for ages and can be eaten unheated or by dropping in a pot of hot water, so they do double-duty if you ever have power outages.

You can buy hard-boiled eggs at most grocery stores now. Some stores have them in the egg section, others have them in the deli near the prepackaged salads and sandwiches. Costco has them in 4x6-packs for less than $5. (Costco also carries Tasty Bite 4-packs.)

If you like cereal, you may want to keep some shelf-stable milk (UHF boxed, or almond/soy/coconut) to open when you need it.

I know there's not a lot of vegetarian frozen dinners, but my stores are devoting more and more space to "alternative" brands like Annie's and Kashi and a few halal/kosher/Indian vegetarian options. They all tend to be salty, but when you want something hot, they're there. Ditto canned/boxed/bag soup - not a ton of vegetarian options, but a few, and they keep for a year or more.

I also tend to graze or eat out of hand at my low points, but I find myself wanting hot food because it feels more like I'm trying.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2013

I keep some bags of mixed frozen vegetables in the freezer. I pour some in a cereal bowl, add some "Mrs. Dash" type mixed seasoning, a little olive oil, and microwave for a minute or two. Easy as cereal, less expensive, healthier, and pretty tasty.
posted by neutralmojo at 10:11 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm terrible at feeding myself, but here are a few things that work for me.

Guacamole and a fried egg or two, topped with salsa and/or cheese, on one piece of bread (or nothing or a tortilla).

I keep kimchi in the fridge because adding it to other things makes me feel vaguely healthy and it's tasty (fried eggs, fried rice, even pasta). I say this as someone who doesn't like fresh kimchi a lot.

Oatmeal--packets aren't necessary, just get it in bulk or a canister. Cook it up with water and stir in some nut butter and a little honey. Add spices if you want.
posted by wintersweet at 10:11 AM on August 5, 2013

Could you buy frozen baked potatoes? We get them in the UK and they're fantastic, as they only take 5 minutes in the microwave and they're done. One of those with some baked beans and cheese is a fantastic meal. Potaotes contain more fibre than a serving of brown rice, a lot of vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. Then the beans contain fibre, protien, lycopene and vitamin C. The chese contains protien, vitamin D and calcium.

Another fantastic thing I've found is passata. You can chuck it in a bowl, add a pinch of sugar, salt, a small amount of butter then either spices or herbs and nuke it in the microwave. Hey presto tomato soup in a matter of minutes. Or you can use it to make a quick and easy pasta sauce. Buy wholemeal pasta so its got a lower GI index and is high in fibre. You can make a few servings of pasta one day and eat it over the next few days or freeze it.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 3:29 PM on August 5, 2013

Canned black beans
Canned corn
Red bell pepper
Lime juice
A little oil
A little cayenne

Delicious black bean salsa! Not quite as easy as pb and j but definitely tasty and the beans are good protein.

Also I like the veggie breakfast sausage stuff that comes in a tube scrambled with eggs.
posted by mai at 9:20 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

In "we have no time or energy for anything" phases, we have pita pizzas like four or five nights a week.

- toast a pita and drizzle on some olive oil, salt and pepper
- smear a layer of hummus, pile high with one small chopped tomato, some chopped olives, a handful of crumbled feta
- broil for four minutes
- eat in giant gulps

Variations: diff flavored hummus, any other veggies like a bit of leftover cucumber or bell pepper or whatever. But the tomato olive combo is totally sufficient.
posted by sestaaak at 11:24 PM on August 5, 2013

This reminds me of one of my favorite Sesame Street clips - James Taylor and some kids sing Jelly Man Kelly.
posted by theora55 at 1:21 PM on August 11, 2013

« Older Only 4 more boring Sundays!   |   Rick Warren Sermon Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.