Food hacks for folks with executive function challenges
July 18, 2016 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I struggle with tasks that involve planning and sequencing, and I find cooking and feeding myself to be a little challenging at the best of times. I'm about to enter a busy period, and I'm worried that my schedule isn't really conducive to cooking healthy dinners. I'm looking for exceptionally easy recipes and other hacks that will allow me to avoid starving or getting scurvy.

Starting in late August, I'm going to be really busy. I sat down and did a schedule over the weekend and realized that I'm going to be putting in 13 hour days on weekdays, at the end of which I'm going to have to come home and make dinner. I'll be tired, hungry, and my ADHD meds will be wearing off, which is sort of a perfect storm of executive dysfunction for me. I am looking for *very*, *very* easy dinner ideas that are relatively healthy. Cost isn't a huge issue, but I don't think I can afford a service like Blue Apron, and I don't want to eat takeout very often. I can do some prep on weekends, but I'm going to be busy then too, so probably nothing very elaborate.

I know there are busy, disorganized people who manage not to subsist on frozen burritos and peanut butter sandwiches. What do you eat? How do you make it?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
My ADHD guy loves his slow cooker. And he doesn't even really make recipes, just follows general guidelines and gets to eat something with meat/veg for dinner which feels more like "dinner" to him. You can also use it to make hearty soups, chilis and veggie meals like lentils and whatnot. So think of "areas" of food that you like (Italian? tacos? chilis? soups? rice dishes) and then do a little invesitgating into what might work. The good news is that you can fancy this up when you have more time (more spices, chopping and selecting your own veggies) and you can just dump in chicken and rice a can of soup when you are feeling not up to it.

Another useful tip is having something around which is ready when you walk in the door (for me it's string cheese) that has protein and buys you some time before you can get dinner on the table. Same thing re: scurvy. Think about a kind of fruit or something along those lines that you'd be happy just sticking in your mouth. For me it's a box if strawberries which becomes a pretty AOK dessert with some good yogurt or other topping.

Also the plan-ahead stuff involves some self-knowledge. How do you feel about eating the same thing every night? I sort of love this so Sunday cooking works for me. If not, you'd have to get more inventive and mix it up a little, maybe a day of takeout and some leftovers you can make different ways.

Also importantly, have a decent breakfast and be mindful of what sorts of eating will be better long-haul foods (proteins, some fats, decent fiber whatever. Easy on carbs and sugars) so you're setting yourself up for success.
posted by jessamyn at 9:11 AM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Rotisserie chicken. They're $5 at a regular supermarket, $8 at whole foods, $15 with 2 sides at a peruvian rotisserie place (if they have those where you are). Each one is at least one meal, probably two, maybe three, depending. A couple of dinner rolls or something for carbs. That and a box of pre-made salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar would be my go to. Buy 3-4 of them at once and heat them up as needed.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:12 AM on July 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

Buy pre-prepped food. Most places these days sell chopped/diced veggies, heat-and-eat chicken, entrees that cmoe frozen in a bag that you heat up in a skillet with some oil or butter (helloooo costco and trader joe's!), etc. Pay the surcharge for convenience and half-ass your way into home cooked meals.
posted by phunniemee at 9:12 AM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

An egg (or tofu) scramble with some veggies/cheese thrown in is very quick and pretty hearty. Bagged baby spinach, tomato, kalamata olives, and feta is a great Greek-style dinner. Eat with pita or toast.

Whole wheat pasta with red sauce or pesto and a salad on the side (you can get the bagged salad kits for extra easy) or frozen peas heat up quickly.

Garden burgers are my go-to quick dinner. There are a lot of varieties and you can top with a million things. I like spicy black bean burgers with smashed avocado and some hot sauce.
posted by LKWorking at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding rotisserie chicken and other pre-prepped food. I used to make myself an exciting (ok not exciting) meal of an instant noodle bowl with some frozen veggies and chicken added in.

Also, don't knock PB&J! PB&J and baby carrots is far from the worst thing you can eat. When I was in grad school, there was one particularly difficult semester where I literally packed myself a PB&J, some kind of cut up vegetable, and yogurt for lunch every day for a period of months. It was fine.
posted by mskyle at 9:18 AM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

As usual, I'll suggest the Instant Pot as an alternative to slow cooker, which should not be run unattended and it is awkward to get overnight-cooked food cooled and put away in the mornings.

But yeah, for the most part the solution to this is frozen and ready-to-cook items, plus a willingness to eat simply for the duration. Protein, two cooked vegetables, one starch, one raw vegetable or fibrous fruit. Use frozen veg, steamer bags, microwave steamer, canned beans. Use frozen rice (or make huge batches and freeze yourself), use tortillas/wraps/rolls/bagels/bakery bread. Keep a few packages of the higher-end instant ramen, yakisoba, pho on hand. Eat bag salad, and lean toward the kale-brussels-cabbage end of the bag salad scale for stuff that can last a week in the fridge.

For meat: I hate rotisserie chicken, it's like chickeny dental floss. But many grocery stores have a deli with roasted chicken breasts, fish fillets, stuffed peppers, meatballs or mini meatloaves, usually around the $7-8/lb range. Also if you have any kind of BBQ restaurant, you can often get a family pack of 2-3 meats, often a couple pounds worth to last you a week if you freeze some, for a decent price. Both places have awful glurgey sweet mayo-loaded sides, though, so look elsewhere for that stuff.

Frozen meatballs and frozen fish fillets cook in almost the same time as fresh. One dish fish is very popular right now, as are no-cook potluck salads that lean more to beans, quinoa, fresh vegetables rather than mayo and pasta.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:29 AM on July 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

I made a hack! Or at least, it is a "be able to have vegetables on a weeknight" hack.

On the weekened I get some corn on the cob at the grocery store (meh corn is okay for this - obviously great corn is nicer) - maybe four big or five average ears. I bake it in the husk at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I remove it and let it cool. I scrape it off the ears into a bowl using a sharp knife.

Now I have a large bowl of corn!

During the week I mix it with some of the following as desired: Canned drained pinto or black beans; crumbled cheese; chopped onion; chopped bell pepper; chopped onion that I have previously marinated overnight in vinegar; greens; avocado. You could probably use chicken. You can dress it simply with a little vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

Sometimes I eat a bowl of mixed corn and vegetable by itself. Sometimes I cook it into a quesadilla-like thing with cheese or serve it with eggs.

This corn will keep for the whole work week if you keep it covered.

Sometimes I also mix with with marinated onion at the beginning of the week.

I also eat a lot of sliced bell peppers.

Also: do you have a cast iron griddle? I keep one on the stovetop and use it to make quesadilla-like things for dinner many nights - I keep tortillas, beans, cheese, eggs, cilantro and any other vegetables that I fancy on hand, and quickly cook up a couple.

The simplest process: turn the burner on medium-high to heat the griddle and start one tortilla toasting while you assemble your ingredients. If you are not making eggs, toast both sides of the tortilla, add the cheese, etc and fold it over. Do the other tortilla - it will go faster since the burner will be quite hot by this point. If you are making eggs, toast the tortillas, fry the eggs (breaking the yolks) and return the tortillas to the griddle to assemble.

If you have either one ingredient-heavy or two ingredient-light plus baby carrots and corn/vegetable bowl, you've got a decent meal.
posted by Frowner at 9:30 AM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, an additional note: there's nothing wrong with eating the same thing 2-3-4-5 times in a row, if that gets you through the week. We're conditioned to novelty-seeking, but as long as you are getting an appropriate range of nutrients (and hell, take a multivitamin for the duration if you're worried) it's fine.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:33 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cook some beans. A huge pot of beans. Cook some rice. Put beans and rice into small containers and freeze them. Put seasoning on top (sauce, olive oil, and a favorite of mine: Za'atar seasoning [a mix of sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme]), or leave seasoning for mealtime).

If you want, you can put some spinach or shredded cabbage in the container with the rice and beans. Sliced tomatoes are good too.

Every Sunday and Wednesday, get some beans out of the freezer so they can thaw for the next meal time.
posted by amtho at 9:35 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do you have a microwave? The microwave and the freezer are your friends.

On the weekend, buy some meats and chuck them into the freezer, portioning into plastic wrap if you need to. Buy grains and frozen veggies, and some lettuce and tomatoes for a quick salad to up your veggie intake. Buy a bottle of your favorite dressing, if you prefer. Make a batch of grains to last the week: brown rice, farro, wheat berries, etc.

Each night,
1. Use the microwave to defrost some sausages, or a chicken breast, or a fish fillet, or a pork chop. Cook any of these in a frying pan with some oil or butter. Sprinkle on some herbs in different flavor profiles if you get tired of the same thing each night. Dijon mustard is a great accompaniment to most of those, maybe not the fish.

2. While the protein is cooking, you can microwave frozen vegetables. A dab of butter, a dash of salt. More herbs if you want to. Warm up a portion of grains right on your plate.

3. Slice some fresh tomatoes or tear up some lettuce to accompany your meal. Dress with salad dressing. If you have the mental wherewithal to make up a homemade dressing, (2 parts oil, 1 part vinegar, shake of salt and a dab of Dijon mustard to hold it together; shave vigorously in a mason jar. Make extra and shake it again the next night), it's a great homey touch.
posted by Liesl at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2016

Whole wheat couscous mix in a box. Boil water, throw in couscous and flavor packet and let sit for 5 minutes. During the five minutes, sauté up some onions, broccoli and tofu/meat or whatever you like. Stir into couscous. Usually makes 2 meals for me.

Also, 20-cent ramen packs can be made surprisingly healthy and filling by adding an egg, some broccoli, tofu, chopped garlic or whatever to the noodles during the last 3 minutes of their 5 minutes of boiling. Or sauté the meat/veggies in butter in a skillet with a splash of soy sauce while the noodles boil, then toss them together. Easy, fast, healthy and filling.
posted by mediareport at 10:29 AM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Pre-washed baby spinach, baby carrots, can of tuna. Salad dressing. Pita bread. Done.
posted by flourpot at 10:32 AM on July 18, 2016

I am you. I have both these problems. How I manage:

1. Cook a big batch of soup, stew or whatever on Sunday.
2. Portion it out and freeze for work week.
3. Buy bags of arugula, bell peppers, whatever to add fresh to or next to my microwaved dinner each night.
4. Keep bread and cheese on hand to round out the meal (if soup, say).

Freezer-friendly roasted vegetable burritos are my new best friends because I can make a big batch relatively quickly and easily.

Since I have a Trader Joe's nearly, I also do quick meals by pairing TJ's BBQ pulled pork with the mini sesame hamburger buns for dinner in a hurry. (Top bottom bun with pork and sauce. Add top bun. Nuke 3 sliders for 30 seconds. Add mini carrots, greens, sliced tomatoes, whatever for fresh, healthful fun.)

TJ's sells frozen rice, for example, that takes 3 minutes to microwave. Cheaper to make rice ahead and freeze it, but when I don't have time I'm willing to spend the money for brown rice in a hurry.

Cous cous is also speedy, and you can add a million different things to it. Also polenta. I've picked out 4 to 5 things that are fairly fast, fairly tasty, fairly healthy, and fairly affordable. My problem is making lunch as well as dinner in advance, so I've been making various types of eggs regularly and salads in a jar as well as frozen homemade burritos.

You can do this. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:33 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have basically the same issue as you minus the ADHD, and I'm guessing that some of the answers so far are STILL too challenging.

I snack a lot, sometimes all day. You do not need "real" sit-down meals to be healthy. I track my food on the app MyFitnessPal to make sure that I am getting enough calories and the right kind (it warns you if you're eating too much sugar, for example).

Some snacking ideas (or just google "healthy snacks")
- almonds
- bananas, apples, whatever's easiest for you to eat
- one-serving containers of yogurt, applesauce, oranges. They sell a lot of these in the "lunches for kids" aisle
- snap peas
- edamame
- dried fruit
- single serving cereal
- granola bars (some are basically candy bars so read the labels)
- string cheese
- hard boiled egg

If if you're trying to lose weight, take a bottle of water everywhere. Trying to gain/maintain, protein shakes.
posted by AFABulous at 10:33 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, meant to add that peanut butter sandwiches can be better than the typical version. I make open-faced ones that are really filling. Spread some good healthy bread with natural pb, cover it with some sharp cheddar and broil in the oven for a minute, just enough to melt the cheese, then take out, let cool for a minute and cover with your favorite sliced fresh fruit - strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, grapes cut in half, pretty much anything will work. Depending on the size and number of bread slices you use this can be very filling. And it's healthy as can be.
posted by mediareport at 10:40 AM on July 18, 2016

This is my emergency dinner formula that I rely on when the weather is too hot to be cooking much. Once I got in the rhythm, I got to where I could put together dinner in the time it takes to toast bread.

Start with a big bowl full of prewashed salad greens, and then put a frozen Stonefire mini naan (it's not really like real naan, more a generic flatbread, but it's good) in the toaster. (I buy big packs at Costco and keep them in the freezer.)

Then, add stuff. I always like something a little substantial to start out. Hummus (or just a bunch of chick peas straight out of the can), a piece of feta or some other cheese, a hard boiled (or devilled, if you prefer and don't mind adding a little prep time) egg, an avocado, assorted olives or dolmas or other olive bar stuff, a tin of sardines or some canned tuna. Then, I throw on other vegetables. Some grape tomatoes, cucumber, sliced beets or other vegetables you've pre-roasted, whatever, and add whatever seasonings and condiments necessary. (E.g., salt, pepper, some mustard or something for sardines, a little oregano on a slab of feta, vinaigrette on the salad, capers and lemon juice, smoked paprika, a drizzle of olive oil.)

You can throw all or most of it on the salad, but I kind of like it deconstructed, with the salad greens in a bowl and everything else on a small plate.

It probably sounds complicated, but the basic formula is green salad + bread + whatever else. And you don't even have to have your whole meal all at once. Sometimes, I just have the salad and bread and then eat different things over the sink until I'm not hungry anymore.

My favorite combo overall is the salad with emulsified Greek-ish vinaigrette I make, the naan, plus a whole sliced down the middle avocado, a slab of feta, and a handful of grape tomatoes on a plate, with salt, pepper, and oregano, drizzled with olive oil.

Using a similar formula, my mom used to reflexively microwave a sweet potato when she got hungry, and then add other stuff for her meal while it was cooking. I think that reflexiveness is the key. You know exactly how to start out, so you don't waste time dithering or figuring out how to prep something, which is when I risk making ramen or something. You just start your base elements and then add stuff from there.

Another part of the trick to me is to have some strongly flavored stuff and some fatty stuff, and enough variety that I'm not actually eating exactly the same thing every day. I know lots of people who are perfectly happy with that, but every time I try to do it, I fail.

And sometimes I heat up some frozen burritos or get a giant order of chicken wings that I do not share.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:41 AM on July 18, 2016

I really struggle to cook for myself (my partner does most of the cooking but he isn't always around) so I like to keep a bunch of extremely basic foods that I like and are easy enough for me to deal with.

Houmous & crackers/breadsticks/pita is good, as is and easy-access stuff you can snack on like falafels, dips, cheese, olives etc. Pre-made samosas or tortilla española, stuff that can be eaten cold. Pasta with jar sauce and something pre-made thrown in and cheese. I do a lot of pre-seasoned cous cous that you just add water to, and a lot of ramen/instant pho.

If I've eaten noodles or cous cous with some protein (pre-seasoned tofu chunks, soy chicken, chick peas from the can, cheese) and a vegetable (almost always corn from a can, sometimes frozen peas) I have Done Okay at Nourishing Myself.

I've eaten like this for years at a time and it's what I default to when my partner is away; it works okay and hasn't done me noticeable damage.
posted by terretu at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2016

My dinners are simple, and usually follow this rule: 180-200 grams of meat (~6-8 oz), 1/2 cup starch, 1-2 cups veg, 1 tablespoon fat (butter or oil). Meat: grilled, sauteed, pan-fried. Ceramic cookware (safest non-stick), so you don't need too much fat. Potatoes or rice, and any steamed or boiled veg, started before the meat. From fridge to plate, it's done in 20-30 mins.

I make sure I have meat in the fridge. Not usually the freezer (although I do have backup in there), because then I have to remember to take it out the night before, which I rarely do. And the commitment usually stresses me out when I do remember do it. Maybe I'll change my mind, maybe I won't get back in time to cook it, etc. I know you can usually cook things the day after you defrost them, but that doesn't feel right or good in terms of risk, also I still might want to change my mind.

(Nuking to thaw is not something I ever like to do for taste/texture reasons. Running tap water over it 30-60 mins before eating, also a non-starter, because I'm already way hungry by the time I think of cooking.)

So I need a couple of options for fresh meat, ready to cook, in the fridge. (I.e. two options - this lets me not feel like I'm locked down and doesn't mean waste. With three, I'm likely to forget about or pass over one thing.) I get enough of each thing to make two servings. Eg a huge chicken breast can work for a dinner and a lunch, or two dinners. (Meat is ok in the fridge for a few days, the other thing is ok to hang out in there.)

This means I need to shop every couple of days. Frequency is critical. I pick up a salad and 2 options for steamed veg, at the same time.

Carbs: baby potatoes (boiled 30 mins), Uncle Ben's Jasmine Rice (13 mins from boil).

Sometimes I do a quick pasta. I use staples - sardines, canned clams, frozen shrimp, a couple of eggs. Usually have garlic and parsley on hand.

I also have some deli meat options for lunches or snacks. (Ham and turkey when I'm wanting to watch calories.) And cheese, one strong cheese (feta or goat) and one soft (brie or mozzarella).

2nd deli roasted chicken + salad in a bag for days you just don't wanna.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:24 AM on July 18, 2016

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, that's pretty much my favorite place for getting components to make "semi-homemade" type meals that don't feel like making things 100% from scratch but also aren't just frozen burritos or sandwiches. Personally, I would make a schedule of meals for each day of the week and then just repeat it every week during your busy period. Some examples of things I think work well from Trader Joe's (you could repeat this with other stores, obviously!):

1. Premade ball of pizza dough + jar of pizza sauce + bag of mozzarella + toppings of your choice (or leave it easy as cheese pizza) + bag of salad. If you're eating just yourself, you should have leftovers for at least 1 other night
2. Saute cubed chicken + chopped onion + chopped bell pepper, add in a jar of prepared Thai curry sauce (I personally like the yellow curry at TJ's the best, but they have numerous good options).
3. Spaghetti + jarred sauce + prepared meatballs
4. Prepared salad -- they have tons of options, many with protein (i.e. a complete meal), and are usually good for at least a few days
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:09 PM on July 18, 2016

+1 for having cheese and nuts on hand to snack on when I walk in the door.

I have a little routine of walking in my house, taking off my shoes, heading to the kitchen to wash my hands, drink a big glass of water and grabbing a handful of nuts.

my simplest 'healthy' meal takes 10mins and is the following:
1 cup whole wheat or multi colored couscous
1 bullion cube + water (~1-1.5c water to 1cup couscous)
2 handfuls of bagged, pre-washed spinach
1 egg

1. boil the water with the bullion cube. (~2-3mins. 1c water isn't much)
2. throw in spinach and couscous when the water is boiling
3. turn off heat. stir things around
4. crack egg into couscous.
5. cover
6. come back in 5 mins and dump into a bowl with hot-sauce or soysauce to taste.

If I am still hungry, I might have a peanutbutter sandwich, or slices of cheese.

Don't feel guilty about cheating with premade food! trader joes and whole foods ( and probably your local super market) have sections of pre-cut veggies, and pre-cooked meatballs and stuff. grab it! use it!
posted by larthegreat at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

The burritos BellaDonna mentioned are fantastic and totally worth making a huge batch worth. If you have a countertop grill, microwave a burrito until warm and then finish it in the grill press for a little less sogginess (but straight microwave is delish too).

I will also recommend the Instant Pot. Cook up a big batch of beans and another of rice and portion them out to freeze. Micro, cheese and done. The Instant Pot is super wonderful for so many things. For example, I made potato salad yesterday in 30 mins start to finish and used it to round out my Greek style mason jar salads.

I love bagged salads (Southwest, Asian, whatever) with a compatible pre-seasoned, baked, ready-to-eat tofu diced up and thrown in the mix. Veg & protien in one handy bowl.

If you have it together enough to get them done, those twee little mason jar salads really do rock. Make them with rinsed, canned beans or some grilled (or Instant Pot) chicken and they will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

With the exception of the bagged salad/tofu idea, these all depend on having prep time on the weekends for a bit. If you can power through a few weekends of prep, you'll be able to set yourself up to WIN the rest of the week for a few weeks. Commit to making 2 huge batches of food a weekend for 4 weekends and you'll be set. And really? I think most of us have dumped some frozen broccoli into a pot of boxed Mac&Cheese and called it dinner.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:07 PM on July 18, 2016

My family has ADD, odd and busy schedules, and no energy for dinner during the week. What we do is batch cook for a simple unless we're feeling ambitous meal on Sunday, portion them out, microwave at night. What we like about this is that we can eat a pretty healthy dinner each night without having to cook, but more importantly without having to think or make any decisions. That last bit is important because the executive function challenges are amplified at the end of a long day.

Here are some super super easy ideas (with to add to them up if they feel too simple):

- rice, canned beans, and a nice store bought salsa. sprinkle on cheese if you want.
---- cook some kind of (brats, chicken, whatever) sausage. Slice up and throw on top.
---- saute some chopped onions, garlic, italian seasoning, add candded chopped tomatoes, canned beans, simmer, add some chopped green peppers
---- simple refrigerator pickled (spicy) carrots and onions for on the side

- pasta mixed with store bought (pesto, cream, tomato) sauce, and rotisserie chicken
---- roast or grill some plum tomatoes, put one in each meal
---- spread bread liberally with butter, and garlic salt. toast. when cool put in a ziploc to go with each meal
---- toss a couple nice olives or canned artichokes in on the side

- store bought mashed potatos, grilled steak (or other meat), thawed frozen green peas
---- we also like blanched green beans, bring a pot of HEAVILY salted water to a boil, throw your beans in for a few minutes, drain and rinse with cold water
---- or grill some veggies (usually one or two of: onion, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms) - throw large cut vegetables in a bowl with some oil and salt, then grill.
---- if you have a food processor, make a simple "chimichurri" sauce to go with the steak. This is one of those very flexible things to make where there are lots of different options but as long as you get some green (parsley and/or cilantro), olive oil, salt, tart (lemon juice and/or red wine vinegar), it should still be pretty tasty.

posted by The Shoodoonoof at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2016

Pre-cooked tortellini + pre-cooked chicken sausage + pasta sauce has been my go-to meal for years.

You can eat all these things without cooking them, straight out of the fridge. They also last for at least a day without refrigeration. I do this all the time for snacking purposes.

You can easily heat everything up in a microwave.

If you're feeling fancy, you can boil the tortellini, fry the sausage, and add any vegetable you want (spinach, zucchini, tomatoes all work well). Melty cheese makes a great topping.

And you can keep large reserves of all of these things in the freezer.

Store-bought tortellini are so good, they're like magic for those of us who don't feel like cooking all the time :)
posted by danceswithlight at 1:16 PM on July 18, 2016

I've found that the most helpful thing is to not be hungry while deciding what to have and cooking it. So I eat a couple of crackers, or drink a bottle of Ensure, or something similar, before attempting to tackle the Problem of Food. If nothing else, this habit has greatly reduced the number of burnt meals.

Oh, also, I put a list of instructions on the cabinet by the stove. It says things like "drink water while cooking" and "start the rice 10 minutes earlier" and so on.
posted by SMPA at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Avocado toast. Toast some bread, spread about a half an avocado on each piece, sprinkle with salt, pepper, a few shakes of hot sauce, bam. Google 'avocado toast' to find about a zillion ways to fancy it up. I like it best plain.
posted by Fig at 3:56 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I nth the sentiment that you need protein and vitamins, but it doesn't have to be in "meal" form. We do lots of snack dinners which are essentially fruit or veggies and cheese and dips. An apple and peanut butter or banana and peanut butter is filling and will help fast. An egg sandwich can be fast, cheap and satisfying if you use good bread and cheese.
posted by areaperson at 7:23 PM on July 18, 2016

I'd suggest preparing pre planning as much as possible. See if you can plan out your meals in advance, while you have the time and energy and motivation. Consider writing down detailed instructions, maybe an index card for every day with an easy dinner idea and as much information as you'll need - remind yourself to set timers on your phone, or where you keep an obscure ingredient if you know that's something you struggle with. You can also use peapod or a similar grocery delivery app to plan your shopping list now - it'll add like ten bucks to your order, but that might be worth it when your time is at a premium.
posted by fermezporte at 4:58 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

my personal practice.

-make a pot of rice. more than one meal. store it in the fridge between.
- stock your fridge with some onions/carrots/kale/etc.
- eggs.
- make a little stirfry, onions and carrots first. then kale(cut into strips) or bokchoy or spinach or collards.
- make a plate with rice , then veggies on top. then a fried egg on top of that.

lots of variations on that them. mix it all together like fried rice. etc...
works with any veggies you like.
add bragg's liquid aminos and maybe some hot sauce. salt and pepper, etc.
i eat this many nights a week. always quick.
posted by danjo at 7:04 AM on July 19, 2016

Response by poster: Hi guys! We are now three days into the Busy Season, and I am too tired to pick best answers. But thank you all so much for your help: this has been a lifesaver. This week, I made a big batch of meatballs on Sunday, and I'm eating them with rice and a quick salad every night. I'm also planning to do a lot of omelettes and scrambled egg concoctions, and I've made a couple of big bathes of freezer burritos for when I'm too tired to do anything but pop a burrito in the microwave. So far, so good. I will report back if I end up getting scurvy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:42 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

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