No cook meal prep doesn’t mean you’re lazy.
Taking action usually involves competing motivations. You can want to workout but you can also want to watch Netflix. You can want to meal prep but you can also want to order pizza.
The easier-to-do, more fun, and instantly gratifying motivations will usually win out. But you can do something about this.
For the things you want to do more of:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
For the things you want to do less of:
- Make it invisible
- Make it unattractive
- Make it difficult
- Make it unsatisfying
You don’t have to do all four things to be successful. But the more of them you can do – the greater your likelihood of success.
Table of Contents
How do you meal prep without cooking?
After a long day or stressful week, cooking is often the last thing I want to do. And honestly, sometimes I’m just going to pout, stomp my feet, and not do it. But that doesn’t mean I still can’t pre a few things and stay on my health and fitness game. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Raw salads: Prepare fresh salads using a variety of vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, and proteins like tofu, chicken, or canned tuna. Keep the ingredients separate until it’s time to eat to maintain freshness.
Overnight oats: Mix rolled oats with yogurt or milk, add your favorite toppings like fruits, nuts, and seeds, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a nutritious and ready-to-eat breakfast.
No-cook wraps or sandwiches: Assemble wraps or sandwiches using whole-grain bread or tortillas, lean meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments. Wrap them individually for easy grab-and-go meals.
Chilled soups: Prepare cold soups like gazpacho or cucumber soup that can be blended or mixed without cooking. These refreshing soups can be stored in the refrigerator and consumed throughout the week.
Smoothie packs: Pre-portion smoothie ingredients like frozen fruits, leafy greens, yogurt, and protein powder in resealable bags. When you’re ready for a smoothie, simply blend the contents with liquid (water, milk, or juice) for a quick and nutritious meal.
Snack boxes: Create snack boxes with a combination of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, cheese, and whole-grain crackers. These boxes can be refrigerated and easily accessed for healthy snacking.
Canned or pre-cooked options: Utilize canned beans, tuna, or cooked quinoa, rice, or pasta as a base for salads or bowls. Pair them with fresh vegetables and dressings for balanced and tasty meals.
Pre-cut fruits and veggies: Wash, peel, and chop fruits and vegetables in advance for quick, ready-to-eat snacks or to add to salads and wraps.
Mason jar salads: Layer your favorite salad ingredients in mason jars, starting with dressing at the bottom and adding leafy greens and other toppings. Seal and store in the fridge, then shake and enjoy when it’s time to eat.
No-cook energy bites: Mix oats, nut butter, honey, and add-ins like dried fruits or chocolate chips. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls for a healthy and convenient snack.
To make meal prep without cooking easier on yourself make sure to invest in good storage containers. This will help to keep your food fresh and prevent it from spoiling. Label everything clearly. This will help keep track of what you have and when it needs to be eaten.
Plan your meals ahead of time. This can help you to make sure that you have everything you need and that you don’t waste food. Most importantly, be flexible. There will be times when you need to adjust your meal plan. Don’t be afraid to make changes as needed.
Why do I feel like I have “no food.”
Let’s remove food insecurity from the equation (actually not having food or availability to it). I’m talking more about when you open the fridge, look around, and feel like you have no food. I’ve been there before too.
Uninspired Ingredients: Sometimes, even if you have food in your kitchen, you may feel like you have nothing to eat because you lack the inspiration or motivation to cook with the available ingredients.
Perceived Lack of Variety: If your food choices have become monotonous or repetitive, you might feel like you don’t have enough variety to create satisfying meals.
Specific Dietary Restrictions: If you follow a specific diet due to health, ethical, or religious reasons, it can limit your options and lead to the feeling of having “no food.”
Emotional Eating: Stress, anxiety, or boredom can influence how we perceive our food situation. Emotions might lead us to believe there’s nothing appealing to eat, even if there are suitable options available.
Identifying the real issue when you feel like you have “no food” can be helpful. Now you have a specific problem you can solve.
What can you make when you have “no food”
When you feel like you have “no food” available, it can be challenging to come up with meal ideas. However, with a little creativity, you can still put together some simple and satisfying dishes using basic pantry staples and common ingredients.
Greek yogurt parfait with fruit and granola. This is a classic and healthy option that is easy to make and customize to your liking. Simply layer Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola in a glass or bowl. For protein, you can add chopped nuts or seeds. For vegetables, you can add berries, chopped apples, or bananas.
Hard-boiled eggs with avocado toast. Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats. Avocado toast is a delicious and satisfying way to add some fiber and healthy fats to your meal. For extra protein, you can add a slice of cheese or some sliced deli meat to the avocado toast. For vegetables, you can add some chopped tomatoes or sliced cucumbers.
Tuna salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Tuna salad is a quick and easy meal that is packed with protein. Whole-wheat bread is a good source of fiber. For vegetables, you can add some chopped celery or carrots to the tuna salad.
Turkey breast wrap with hummus. Turkey is a great source of protein and hummus adds some healthy fats and fiber. For vegetables, you can add any of your favorites to the wrap, such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers.
Smoothie with protein powder, fruit, and vegetables. Smoothies are a great way to get a quick and easy meal on the go. Protein powder can help you feel full and satisfied. Fruit and vegetables can add vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your meal. For protein, you can add protein powder, Greek yogurt, or nut butter to your smoothie. For fruit, you can add any of your favorites, such as berries, bananas, or mangoes. For vegetables, you can add spinach, kale, or carrots to your smoothie.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative with what you have on hand.
Can you lose weight without meal prepping or cooking
Yes, you can lose weight without meal prepping or cooking, but it might require some additional planning and mindfulness in your food choices. While meal prepping and cooking can be helpful for portion control and choosing nutritious ingredients, they are not the only methods for weight loss.
Weight loss is determined by creating a moderate calorie deficit over time. I’ve written a complete getting started guide to improving your nutrition here. Along with a guide on safely creating a calorie deficit for weight loss.
For most of us. Getting really good at 4 foundational practices can help a ton.
- Eat a serving of protein and veggies with most meals
- Cook more meals at home and eat out less
- Eat meals and reduce or eliminate mindless snacking
- Eat at regularly scheduled times to help with stress, emotions, and binge eating.
Details for practicing these can be found here.
The key to successful weight loss is creating a calorie deficit, where you burn more calories than you consume. By making mindful food choices and staying physically active, you can achieve weight loss without the need for extensive meal prepping or cooking.
What do you do when you have no food?
When you find yourself in a situation where you have little to no food available, it can be challenging, but there are several steps you can take to address the situation:
Assess your Resources: Take stock of what food you do have, even if it seems limited. Check your pantry, fridge, freezer, and any other storage areas to see if there are any usable ingredients or non-perishables available.
Get Creative with Limited Ingredients: If you have a few staple items, think about how you can combine them to create simple meals. For example, canned beans, rice, and spices can be used to make a basic bean and rice dish.
Check for Community Resources: Look into local food banks, community kitchens, or other assistance programs that can provide emergency food support.
Reach Out for Help: Don’t hesitate to seek help from friends, family, or neighbors. They might be able to share some food or resources with you.
Explore Low-Cost Options: If you have limited funds, consider exploring low-cost food options, such as buying in bulk or choosing affordable, nutrient-dense items.
Use Food Sharing Apps: Some apps or online platforms allow people to share excess food or meals with others in the community.
Practice Fasting Safely: If you can’t access food for a short period, ensure you stay hydrated and listen to your body’s hunger cues. Fasting for extended periods without proper nutrition can be harmful, so be cautious.
Plan for the Future: Use this experience as a motivation to plan and budget for your future food needs. Creating a shopping list and planning meals ahead of time can help you avoid similar situations in the future.
Learn Basic Cooking Skills: If possible, consider learning some basic cooking skills. Cooking your meals can be more cost-effective and allows you to control the ingredients.
Focus on Non-Food Coping Strategies: In times of limited food, it’s crucial to find other ways to cope with stress or emotions that don’t involve eating. Engage in hobbies, physical activity, or spend time with loved ones.
Remember that food insecurity is a real issue for many people, and it’s essential to seek assistance when needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to local resources or organizations that can provide support during difficult times. Additionally, planning and budgeting can help you manage your food resources more effectively in the future.
What are some examples of no-cook meal prep “recipes”
Here are some simple, no-cook meal prep “recipes” that you can prepare without using any heat:
Mason Jar Salads:
Layer the following ingredients in a mason jar in this order:
- Bottom layer: Your choice of dressing (vinaigrette, balsamic, etc.).
- Next layer: Hard vegetables (e.g., carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers).
- Next layer: Protein (e.g., cooked chicken, canned tuna, chickpeas).
- Next layer: Soft vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, avocado).
- Top layer: Greens (e.g., spinach, mixed greens).
No-Cook Veggie Wraps:
Spread a thin layer of hummus or avocado on a whole-grain tortilla. Add sliced vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots, and baby spinach. Roll it up and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil for an easy grab-and-go lunch. Add turkey slices, rotisserie chicken, or other no-cook protein options.
Cold Quinoa Salad:
Mix cooked and cooled quinoa with chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, olives, and a simple vinaigrette dressing. Store in an airtight container for a nutritious and satisfying meal. Add your favorite no-cook protein options to up the protein intake.
Overnight Chia Pudding:
In a container with a lid, combine chia seeds with your choice of milk (almond, coconut, etc.) and a sweetener (honey, maple syrup). Mix well and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, add fresh fruits or nuts for extra flavor and texture.
Layer Greek yogurt with granola, mixed berries, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup in a container. Repeat the layers as needed and refrigerate for a quick and tasty breakfast or snack. For a boost in protein add a scoop of vanilla protein powder and stir in
Tuna or Chickpea Salad Lettuce Wraps:
In a bowl, mix canned tuna or chickpeas with diced celery, red onion, and a dollop of Greek yogurt or mayo. Add salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve the salad in large lettuce leaves, such as romaine or butter lettuce, to create healthy and refreshing wraps.
Use nori seaweed sheets as a wrap and fill them with avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots, cooked shrimp or crab (optional), and sushi rice seasoned with rice vinegar. Roll them up tightly and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
You can also customize these recipes by adding your favorite herbs, spices, or other ingredients to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs.
More free resources to help you meal prep
The blog is full of free resources to help you eat better, move more, and build a body and life you’re proud of. Take advantage of the ones below to level up your meal prep and fitness game.
- Getting Started Guide: Improve your diet today (focus on the things that matter)
- 1-2-3 meal planning method
- Healthy and easy meal prep ultimate guide
- How to create your own meal plan