Sometimes you don't want to turn the oven on and get to work in the kitchen.
After long, draining days or on warm evenings when the idea of a hot meal seems not-so-appealing, it's great to have some no-cook recipes on hand to whip something up in a matter of minutes.
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Sure, there's takeout, but that option can put a dent in your wallet and leave you eating more calories, sugar and fat than if you'd thrown together a quick meal at home, according to a February 2017 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
"No-cook recipes should be in everyone's back pocket," Maggie Michalczyk, RD, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "They're great because they take less time than traditionally cooked meals yet they're still full of flavor and nutrition."
From smoothie bowls to cold soups to low-carb wraps, these no-cook recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner show you how healthy, easy and delicious whipping up a meal can be.
Want more healthy recipes? Download the MyPlate app and get simple, tasty meals and snacks tailored to your nutrition goals.
Save time in the a.m. with these no-cook breakfast recipes.
1. Overnight Banana-Chia Breakfast Pudding Bowl With Cacao Nibs and Nuts
Throw this together in just 10 minutes the night before and breakfast is served. "Night before" is crucial to point out here because that means your mornings have become just a little less hectic.
Tiny chia seeds are what make the pudding here. We love them because of their healthy fats — about 60 percent comes from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
If you're feeling adventurous, try swapping basil seeds for chia seeds. They have almost twice the fiber, iron, calcium and potassium.
Get the Overnight Banana-Chia Breakfast Pudding Bowl With Cacao Nibs and Nuts recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Berry Bliss Bowl
This smoothie bowl is packed with fiber (13 grams!) thanks to the berries and flaxseed.
We're running on a fiber deficit. Most of us know the health benefits of fiber and think we're getting enough when, in fact, 95 percent of us are missing the mark, according to a January 2017 paper in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
So, how far off are we? On average, we're only getting about 16 grams a day, according to September 2014 USDA data. Women should get at least 25 grams per day and men, a minimum of 38 grams per day.
Get the Berry Bliss Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Peanut Butter Mash
Peanut Butter Mash may sound like a child's snack but it's the breakfast adults' dreams are made of.
Think creamy yogurt, cereal and peanut butter. The key here is to use bran cereal so that you reap all of the benefits of fiber. (A quarter-cup has about 7 grams.)
And when shopping for PB, look for a natural type, free of added oils and sugars. You'll need to peruse the ingredients list to be sure. Keeping the listed ingredients to peanut butter and salt (optional) is your best bet.
Get the Peanut Butter Mash recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Stuffed Avocado
This recipe is packed with healthy fat and protein that will fill you up.
"If I don't have canned tuna, I use canned salmon instead," Michalczyk recommends, adding that this recipe is versatile and cheap.
Keep in mind, albacore tuna should only be eaten once per week because of mercury levels, while light or skipjack tuna can be enjoyed two to three times per week since it has lower levels of mercury, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Get the Stuffed Avocado recipe and nutrition info here.
Keep lunch simple with these stove- and oven-free lunch ideas.
5. Tangy Tuna Salad Collard Wrap
Ever get a wrap from a nearby deli or supermarket and it's almost all wrap? The worst! Here, we're using collard greens instead of a grain-based wrap, which means it won't be as dry and the wrap likely won't be as big in size.
This lunch idea is balanced with the perfect portion of protein-rich tuna packed inside.
We should aim for at least 8 ounces of seafood per week according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (Pregnant and breastfeeding women should choose sources lower in mercury.) Tuna is great because you can find it canned, which makes it more convenient.
Get the Tangy Tuna Salad Collard Wrap recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Caprese Mason Jar Salad
This mason jar salad is perfect for lunches because it's already packed for on-the-go. It's not heavy in carbs so you won't experience any spikes or crashes in your blood sugar levels, which can leave you feeling sluggish in the afternoon.
The tomatoes keep this fresh and add lycopene, an antioxidant that belongs to the carotenoid group (the same as beta-carotene).
Some studies have shown that lycopene is linked to lower blood pressure and diets rich in lycopene are associated with lower risks of specific types of cancer, although the findings are not conclusive, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.
Get the Caprese Mason Jar Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Smashed Chickpea Club Sandwich
This one is a cross between an egg salad and a club sandwich. Either way, you'll be pleased.
It gets an upgrade with sprouted bread and microgreens. What does that mean? Well, sprouted grains (whole grains that have just begun to sprout) are higher in protein and fiber, along with B vitamins and vitamin C.
It's a similar scenario with microgreens. They're greens that are between the sprouting phase and the "baby greens" growing phase. They, too, are more concentrated in specific nutrients (depending on the green), such as iron, folate and vitamins A, C and K.
Get the Smashed Chickpea Club Sandwich recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Pistachio Crunch Salad
This is an easy salad that you can swap in different veggies for if you don't have the ones called for on hand, so feel free to play around based on what's in your fridge.
"Chickpeas, an inexpensive source of protein and fiber, should always be in your pantry," Michalczyk says. You can swap for other beans, like black beans, too.
Get the Pistachio Crunch Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Chopped Tofu Salad
Tofu is high in protein and simple to use last minute.
"This is an easy, plant-based meal that takes no time at all to put together. It's refreshing and filled with protein and fiber — two things that should be part of every meal to keep you fueled," Michalczyk says.
Plus, you can play around with different dressings to flavor the tofu, as it absorbs seasonings well.
Get the Chopped Tofu Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
Skip takeout and enjoy these delish no-cook dinners instead.
10. Mexican Layer Dip Tacos
Tacos plus Mexican layer dip made healthy? We'll be adding these into the rotation, too.
They're vegetarian (and no-cook) by using vegetarian refried beans. You can also make this a vegan dish by using vegan options for the Greek yogurt and cheese — or you can skip them altogether and add avocado for healthy fats instead.
Each taco has just 185 calories and 12 grams of protein. Who knew meeting your protein needs on a plant-based diet could be so easy? It doesn't have to mean relying on faux meats either — just a little planning ahead and staying stocked on whole plant-protein foods.
Get the Mexican Layer Dip Tacos recipe and nutrition info here.
11. Mediterranean Zoodles With Creamy Feta Dressing
Forget standing over a pot of boiling pasta. Go for these no-cook zoodles instead.
This super-easy dish reaches your plate in just three steps. Zucchini noodles are lower in calories and carbohydrates compared to regular pasta if you're monitoring your intake of either.
The Greek yogurt and feta make this vegetarian dish high in protein — 20 grams per serving. A cup of Greek yogurt has 20 grams of protein providing almost twice the protein of regular yogurt, which has about 11 grams per cup. This dish is light on calories so consider pairing it with a salad or topping with some pine nuts or hemp seeds.
Get the Mediterranean Zoodles With Creamy Feta Dressing recipe and nutrition info here.
12. Avocado and Cucumber Gazpacho
When you're in the mood for a light, refreshing dinner, look no further than this bright soup.
"Avocado is the hero here, lending this recipe a great texture and added nutrition," Michalczyk says.
Soup can seem time-consuming and overwhelming to make, so whipping up this cold version is a great, no-cook way to enjoy a bowl without all the hassle. And its rich texture might just fill you up faster.
Get the Avocado and Cucumber Gazpacho recipe and nutrition info here.
13. Rainbow Collard Wrap
Collard greens are such an underutilized veggie.
"Using them fresh to make a wrap is a very nutrient-dense way to hold other ingredients together. Plus, it's way lower in carbs than a traditional wrap," says Ginger Hultin, RD, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Add in some creamy dips like hummus for that smooth texture and swap in other veggies or protein, if you like.
Get the Rainbow Collard Wrap recipe and nutrition info here.
14. Spiced Hummus Flatbread 'Pizza'
Whole-grain flatbread makes a great "pizza" base here, and you can play around with delicious toppings.
"Topped with flavorful, fiber-rich hummus and a variety of veggies, this dish is filling and also provides a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants," says Hultin.
Get the Spiced Hummus Flatbread 'Pizza' recipe and nutrition info here.
15. Hearty Gazpacho Bowl
Gazpacho is the epitome of no-cook soups. While most recipes are light, typically made up of just vegetables — tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions — this one has some oomph thanks to chickpeas, corn and avocado.
The addition of all three help round this out, adding healthy fats (avocado), good-for-you carbohydrates (chickpeas and corn) and protein (chickpeas). This soup provides 10 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.
Get the Hearty Gazpacho Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
- American Journal of Preventative Medicine: "Cooking at Home: A Strategy to Comply With U.S. Dietary Guidelines at No Extra Cost"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Chia Seeds"
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: "Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap"
- USDA: "Fiber Intake of the U.S. Population"
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-Calorie Level, With Daily or Weekly Amounts From Food Groups, Subgroups, and Components"
- Food and Drug Administration: "Advice About Eating Fish"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "What is Lycopene?"
- USDA: "Plain Greek Yogurt"
- USDA: "Plain Yogurt"