1 day of nutritionally complete foods - vegetarian
September 20, 2020 7:21 AM   Subscribe

So covid sucks, my parent is dying and I don't have the bandwidth to feed myself. I'm looking for a list of foods to eat over the course of one day that will be pretty healthy. I'm ok with eating the same thing every day for now and with paying for the list. I'll figure out how to get them into my body on my own, because honestly I'm not up to cooking anything more complicated than eggs or roasted veggies. I'm not interested in a meal delivery service. Thanks
posted by ChodenKal to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Hi! The idea of a nutritionally complete foods is a little complex, because we can sustain ourselves off of almost anything.

However, Soylent is a company that specializes in this - premade, 100% daily vitamins and calories, complete nutrition. And it's Vegan!

I find their "2.0" or their pre-mixed beverages to be very tasty, and they are on amazon Prime shipping, too! If you have a store card or use subscribe and save, it's 5-10% cheaper as well.

Other than that I really like microwaving a potato, instant ramen noodles, and frozen dinners.
posted by bbqturtle at 7:26 AM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Scrambled eggs with frozen spinach, sandwiches (cheese and bread, don't overthink it) and something frozen and microwaved for dinner is our household's official "we are too fried to cook but don't want to die of junk food" regimen. You can totally get frozen veggie lasagna or make a box of pasta and dump some jarred sauce on it or frozen Indian meals if you want to focus on veggies. Unless you're super sensitive to sodium you can do pretty ok on a diet like this for quite a while.

I dunno about Soylent, tech bros getting into food tend not to have great food-safety track records, but you can absolutely get a case of Ensure or a tub of protein powder and a shaker bottle and drink one meal a day. (Vanilla whey protein and a squeeze of this tastes like a creamsicle with a hangover, it's pretty palatable.) I sometimes have trouble with breakfast - it's not a bad idea to have something you can slam and that will make sure you don't fall over before lunch.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:41 AM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit or vegetables is all you need. There's not a ton of calories there, so you can add a peanut butter or cheese sandwich if you want more calorie density. Take a calcium supplement.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:04 AM on September 20, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I think OP is looking for a list of foods that will offer nutritional balance - like grains, eggs, tomatoes, carrots. When she say she'll figure out how to get them into her body, I think she's saying that she's not looking for products or recipes.

(I did a quick search to see if an organization like WHO or WIC might have some kind of nutrition chart with an explicit list of food types (spinach, peanuts, tomatoes, eggs) and perhaps ratios, but nothing's come up so far). I did find this, which I think is more high-level than what the OP is looking for).

OP - please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm sorry you're in this situation, and I wish you strength and comfort.
posted by bunderful at 8:14 AM on September 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

I eat 2 eggs, wholegrain toast with butter, and a piece of fruit every day for breakfast.

Lunch is a wrap or big salad with deli meat, cheese, lettuce, and whatever veggies I have that I can take a peeler to for thin slivers (carrot, cucumber, etc), with mayo or honey mustard.

Dinner is roast chicken and veggies. I make a casserole dish of 9 chicken thighs once a week (foil wrap in 400⁰ oven for 40 minute-ish) and throw a sheet pan of roughly chopped root veg at the same time, which makes enough food for a week.
posted by ananci at 8:18 AM on September 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oops, just saw you're vegetarian...sub the chicken and deli meat for your choice of protein then
posted by ananci at 8:36 AM on September 20, 2020

I'm very much a naturally eat the same thing every day sort of person, so I've thought a lot about nutritional balance over not very many foods (plus, I'm a vegan, so I feel like I have to be a little extra careful). I'm also typically very pressed for time, so I use a lot of quick, short-cut things. The only thing here that will take more than 5 minutes to prep is dinner, and even that should be less than 20 minutes. Here are some of my formulas:

Breakfast Option 1: Smoothie (my recipe is not to most people's taste, but frozen banana and strawberries + unsweetened hemp + PB powders + unsweetened almond milk + add unsweetened pb or almond butter if you want some more fat to tide you over better).

Breakfast Option 2: Toast w/pb&j and an orange

Snack Option 1: crudite (by which I mean tiny vegetables that need no prep aside from rinsing - baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, pickles) and smoked salt (if you like smokey flavors, get yourself the gift of this salt, it makes everything better).

Lunch: Amy's lentil or "no-chicken" noodle soup or a frozen burrito. Microwave. Add toast or fruit or more veggies as desired/needed to keep you full.

Snack Option 2: air popped popcorn + nutritional yeast and/or old bay (air poppers are available for $15 - 20 and are great if you like to stress eat crunchy snacks and want a low-fat option)

Dinner: Big salad (buy a bagged salad to save yourself some effort!) + TJ's soyrizo and salsa or + gardien crab cakes or chicken nuggets or + roasted chickpeas or + black beans and some frozen fire-roasted corn or + smoked or other flavored tofu cubes.

Snack Option 3: edamame + smoked salt.

I feel like this gets me enough fruits + veggies, a couple types or whole grains and legumes depending on which options I pick, and enough protein + fat for my day.
posted by snaw at 8:36 AM on September 20, 2020 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I'm sorry you are going through this. Here are some meals I've found simple, nutritious and comforting:

Breakfast: a) microwave oatmeal with yogurt and honey or fruit. (For satiety and sugar content it's best using plain oatmeal in bulk rather than the packets, but whatever works.) Add a big scoop of oatmeal to a bowl, throw in some cinnamon and a tiny bit of salt, some frozen fruit if you're using it for zap for a 2-3 minutes, then add a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt. Whole milk yogurt will keep you going longer. Drizzle of honey or fresh fruit on top. This gets you whole grains, protein, calcium, fat, probiotics and vitamins.

b. Are you near a Trader Joe's? They have an awesome sprouted wheat bread that is loaded with whole grains and protein. This toasted + nut butter or an egg. Great if you can add a piece of fruit or baby carrots.

c. That egg: if you want to skip washing a pan, you can make an egg puff in the microwave. You need a cup-size microwave safe bowl or ramekin. Crack in an egg, teaspoonful of flour and a little shake of baking powder. Beat it with a fork and microwave for one minute. It will puff up really high and collapse. Then you get a nice hot fluffy egg to eat on its own or put in a breakfast sandwich.

Lunches/dinners: a. bowl. If you don't mind fake meat, quorn frozen stuff is high in protein and tasty. Otherwise, canned chickpeas work for this. Mix your protein + frozen peas/other frozen veggie mix, (again, Trader Joe's is great for this,) and microwave. If you can get those mega sized boxes of pre-washed spinach or argula, mix in a nice sized bunch after heating up the rest, or have on the side with a little dressing. If you have the wherewithal to make some brown rice, this is also great to mix in, but still good without.

b. Microwave sweet potato + some canned beans + side of microwaved frozen veggies + yogurt + nutritional yeast.

c. That bread + hummus + nutritional yeast + side of carrots + side of fruit.

All the proteins will taste better and be more satisfying if you stir in some olive oil and spices/balsamic vinegar/soy sauce/nutritional yeast. Add cheese if it helps. I know you're probably not as concerned with the flavor right now, but hot, better tasting food that you will eat more of will help, especially if you're struggling with appetite.

In list form:
Fresh fruit (bananas/berries)
Frozen fruit (berries/mango)
Whole grain bread
Peanut/almond butter
Sweet potato
Brown rice
(Frozen) peas and mixed veggies
Prewashed greens (baby spinach/arugula/kale)
Nutritional yeast
posted by prewar lemonade at 8:37 AM on September 20, 2020 [16 favorites]

If you want something like bundeful suggests (which was my understanding of the question), there is a blogger/instagramer called Fraiche Living who has a weekly meal plan that you can buy. There are various options for number of people, vegan, nut-free, etc. I don’t subscribe so I don’t know the prep required but they are supposed to be healthy and she includes a grocery list.


I’m sure there are a ton of these so hopefully others can chime in with options. BudgetBytes might have something useful for you but I have crappy internet at the moment and can’t check.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:37 AM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Get a small rice cooker (this one looks cute) and get yourself as much as you want from the following 3 types of items:
Grains - risotto rice, long grain rice, bulghur wheat, buckwheat*, quinoa*
Nuts and seeds - peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, split peas
Pickled vegetables/antipasti/frozen vegetables - bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, pickles, jalapenos, frozen peas, frozen edamame, french beans

Put one or more from each into the rice cooker every evening, stir, put it on, and come back any time from 30 minutes or more later to have a pan full of ready to eat food. Stir the pot up, tip it out and pour on dressing or sprinkle with grated cheese. Little effort, tastes fresh, and very easy to vary it from day to day.

*the starred grains are actually pretty high protein, too
posted by ambrosen at 9:11 AM on September 20, 2020 [7 favorites]

Breakfast: Oatmeal with trailmix and flaxseeds and greens in it. I prefer red cabbage.
Lunch & dinner: Rice & beans with CSA fruits and vegetables*.

*A CSA is a box of produce that a local farmer gives you. You get whatever produce is in season without having to decide anything.
posted by aniola at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2020

For breakfast: toast good bread and top with butter or olive oil + a fried egg. Add to the top any of the following: sliced avocado, any salsa (jarred or make many fruits or vegetables into salsa by chopping small and stirring in lemon or lime juice, a bit of salt, a bit of cumin and/or cilantro as you like -- mango, pineapple, kiwi, avocado, corn, tomato, etc.), or a caprese (chopped tomato, chopped or shredded mozzarella, fresh or dry basil, salt, olive oil). Put more fruit (berries, cantaloupe, kiwi) on the side. Drink with tea or cafe au lait.

Lunch/Dinner: Assortment of toppings (salsas, any salad dressing, beans mixed with a taco packet, roasted vegetables, caprese, fried or scrambled or chopped hard boiled egg, shredded cheese, frozen fake meatballs, shredded lettuce or salad mix, literally any condiment) over your choice of salad mix/rice/quinoa/cauliflower rice/buttered or olive oiled noodles/tortillas/tortilla chips.
Or roasted veggies with tofu cubes.
Or boursin cheese, cubed hard cheese, crackers, crudites, nuts, and berries or stone fruit arranged prettily on a board or plate with a glass of wine and some squares of dark chocolate.

Chocolate milk makes a nutritious snack if you're not getting enough calcium.

Having meals based on an assortment of toppings lets your body more easily signal you about its nutritional needs without you needing to do a lot of advanced planning. Agree about a CSA box, too.
posted by shadygrove at 9:25 AM on September 20, 2020

Oatmeal with a spoon of peanut butter stirred through (plus milk of choice and maple syrup/sugar of choice)
posted by freethefeet at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

As noted by fingersandtoes, eggs plus veggies is actually a pretty good start, especially if the veggies include some of the more nutritious things like sweet potato. My bestt suggestion is to add some nuts.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:47 AM on September 20, 2020

A CSA box might be a welcome distraction or it could end up being a source of unfamiliar vegetables that you don’t have the energy to deal with. YMMV.

Here’s what I ate when I was in a similar situation and felt exhausted at an absolutely cellular level:

-Scrambled eggs
-grocery store crudité plate
-sliced apples with cheese or almond butter
-refried beans: open can of refried beans, dump in bowl, microwave, cheese optional
-frozen berries with Greek yogurt, defrost or eat frozen according to your taste
-canned kidney beans with olive oil and whatever seasonings were around
-high-protein pasta with cottage cheese and Parmesan: cook pasta, warm a scoop of cottage cheese mixed with Parmesan in microwave, mix together; more protein than regular mac and cheese
-baked potatoes with black beans and salsa, cheese optional
-store-bought baked tofu

For me, the key to keeping up my energy was to ensure that my meals were not all carbs all the time, as much as I was tempted to live on plain pasta and grocery store cookies. But more importantly: fed is best. It’s more important to eat than it is to eat perfectly. The human body is remarkably resilient when it comes to nutrition. (Not saying that you don’t know this, it’s just that exhaustion and sadness and despair can cause your brain to start telling you that you’re Doing Everything Wrong.)

I wish you all the best.
posted by corey flood at 9:55 AM on September 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

The only thing missing in what I described above is b12, which you would get from eggs. Anything vegetable you don't know what to do with in a CSA, stick it in the instapot and turn it into soup. Or stir-fry it.
posted by aniola at 10:20 AM on September 20, 2020

Breakfast: 2-3 eggs, multivitamin, yogurt

Snack: banana, tangerines, and/or a few pieces from a pre-cut melon package in the produce cold case.

Lunch: roasted sesame seed, cheese, and greens (bagged salad/cole slaw, sprouts, microgreens, etc) sandwich, Orowheat Double Fiber bread, if you're an apple-eater add a few thin slices too. One pack of mini-chips from the Variety Package of your choice, because you're going through some shit and salty comfort foods help. Also a sandwich just doesn't feel right without chips.

Snack: string cheese and almonds, or just stock in a bunch of Sargento Snack Packs

Dinner: Vegetarian frozen meal (Amy's, Gardein, Sweet Earth, Evol etc) with a little side of the bagged salad or cole slaw. Add an egg if it doesn't feel substantial enough, or if your usual grocery sells baked tofu or seitan add a little of that, or keep some meatless crumble in the freezer.

Dessert: cookies, because you're going through some shit and you deserve cookies.

During daytime: after every meal, go outside or stick your head out a window for 5-10 minutes, somewhere you can get actual daylight on your face/forearms so your brain and body make critical endocrines/vitamins for you.

Keep PB&J on hand for sandwich alts or extra toast needs. If you think you'll need protein boosts get some cottage cheese to add as a side or mix-in. I usually keep 3-5 steamer bags of frozen veg on hand to expand out meals; one person can make 2-3 sides out of one bag.

It's a lot of prepared food, but this is what it's for: getting you through stuff when cooking isn't something you can focus any energy on. Also, on days when it feels too samey, switch meals around. There's no law that says you can't have an Amy's burrito for breakfast. Have a basic array of seasonings you can use to improve the flavor of bland stuff, hot sauce or mild taco sauce for sure, ketchup, some kind of mustard, a salt-free version of Cavender's, Tony Chachere's, Lawry's, some onion and garlic powders, a mild or hot chili powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili crisp/oil if you like it, peanut sauce.

I use an electrolyte additive called LyteShow, which has basically no flavor so I can drop it in whatever else I'm drinking, but if nothing else stock in some sport drinks to keep your mag/potassium up. It will help with sleep as well as muscle cramps, along with general well-being.

Even before the pandemic, I have always kept a crisis/camping/comfort larder that contains a few servings each of:
- Tasty Bite Indian pouch entrees
- Beans (usually 1 each black, pinto, chickpea)
- Pouch/bowl precooked rice, or quinoa, and recently pouch pasta has become a thing
- Box rotini, 1lb
- Ramen, udon, yakisoba and other just-add-water kits
- 1 large can tomatoes, 1 small can, 1 can paste

Even if you end up with NO fresh food on hand, you could make at least 8 meals just from this, or use bits here and there to augment what you've got

It is also extremely helpful, if this is something you can access/afford, to designate one night a week for either takeout or take-out-y food. We do a good grocery deli take-and-bake pizza on most Friday nights, with leftovers for breakfast Saturday. Once a month or so we get actual delivery pizza, Thai, burritos, etc from local businesses. A couple of my local stores that have always had frozen Orange/Sesame Chicken kits are starting to stock similar cauliflower kits. Have a treat of some sort, whatever that means to you.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Granola with a banana for breakfast.

Hummous, crackers, a sliced apple and cheese for lunch.

Scrambled eggs on toast for dinner with roasted veggies. Or honestly, I am typing this answer while eating stinky cheese, a bunch of grapes and some crackers for dinner.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I do oatmeal at 30% power for 15 minutes in a generously-sized bowl, so it doesn't rise up and get all over the microwave. I have a few apricots and some nuts with it.
Frozen burritos from the organic food section are quite good - beans, rice, cheese, adequate nutrition.
Ramen noodles with a handful of chopped frozen spinach, and some frozen peas, osft-boiled egg if you're fancy.
Baked potato with butter. If you have some chili, it's a great combo. Or baked sweet potato with butter.
Sliced apple, peanut butter
Indian packet meals are tasty, usually have beans and tomato, great on rice, pasta or baked potato.
I keep cans of beets in the cupboard; I like them drained, with some vinegar.
Canned black beans, corn, and a jar of salsa makes a quick salad and will cover several meals
Chips, salsa, guacamole.
Hummus and either good bread or crackers.

I'm sorry life is so hard right now. I hope you can reach out to friends, tell them you're stretched thin, and ask them to drop off meals.
posted by theora55 at 3:21 PM on September 20, 2020

For breakfast, I make cream of wheat, cream of rice, grits, or oatmeal, with a slug of sesame oil and some honey (sub that for whatever sweetener you prefer). I boil water in a teakettle so I know when it’s ready, and I pour it into a small thermos with the hot cereal and let it cook in the thermos for a while.
posted by SillyShepherd at 6:34 PM on September 20, 2020

You have a wealth of good suggestions here, but as a permanently lazy cook who has also been through “parent dying, can’t function” I’ll add my own spin:

Frozen meals are truly the best thing right now if you have the freezer space. When your mind is this heavily occupied, it can be utterly exhausting to cook an egg on the stovetop or monitor a preheating oven. If your spatial skills are a little bit shot right now, the pre-set portion sizes will help ensure you’re getting enough without having to measure out/eyeball quantities.

Canned foods: opt for the easy-open kind with pull tabs, so you don’t have to hunt around for a possibly-shitty can opener when your mind is already zapped. (Ditto your bottled drinks, if that’s a thing you do: get twist-off caps.)

Hydration: get drink flavouring mixes or drops, lemon or lime juice, foofy teas, or other incentives to drink your water. Buy yourself some canned seltzer if that will entice you.

Pick things that are comforting and filling, but that you’re not too worried about getting sick of. Later on you might want to avoid foods that remind you of this time, and that is OK.

Be kind to yourself. I’m sorry you’re going through this.
posted by armeowda at 7:43 PM on September 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

I am a vegan and I use an app from Dr. Michael Gregor called The Daily Dozen. It is a list of food types and check boxes to get every day. There is also a more complicated Daily Dozen app that involves weight loss, but I use the basic one.

I literally lay out the foods on this checklist out on the counter in the morning and work my way through them.

I put brocooli into any bean soups or sauces and I get frozen blueberries and pour them out in the morning with pumpkin seeds and flaxseed and put Kite Hill vanilla yogurt and cinnamon on them when they are thawed. I have some personal favs like Brooklyn Delhi's Roasted Garlic Achaar for spices and I put it on sandwiches or mix it up with rice and garbanzos. I also get Khazana soups from Amazon - the smoky chipotle curry is my favorite. I throw baby arugula or spinach into soups and rice and beans.

The Daily Dozen Checklist includes

3 servings of beans
1 servings of berries
3 other fruits
1 serving cruciferous vegetables (I pour out a cup of frozen broccoli in the morning and just let it thaw)
2 other vegetables
2 servings greens
1 servings flaxseeds
1 serving nuts and seeds
1 serving herbs and spices
3 servings whole grains (I make up brown rice ahead of time and also buy ready to eat rice/barley/quiinoa in shelf stable bags so it is ready to go)
5 beverages
Vitamin B12
posted by katinka-katinka at 4:45 AM on September 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd make a large batch of brown rice or other grain, and get a bunch of those ready-to-eat Indian meals like Kitchens of India brand. They're vegetarian and flavorful. Put them in a bowl with rice, and microwave for a minute or two. They're available at many supermarkets. Trader Joe's also carries their own versions which are great. One packet with grains is about 2 meals worth of food.
posted by hydra77 at 8:30 AM on September 21, 2020

« Older How do I keep multiple blankets fastened together?   |   What password manager for a family with privacy on... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments