For some people, planning, shopping for, and cooking a meal is an enjoyable, creative process. For others, it is a chore – necessary, but tedious. If you fall in the latter camp, you can still eat healthfully and use local ingredients. Here are some simple meal ideas, inspired by the Public Health – Seattle & King County resource, “Making healthy choices if you don’t cook”.
A majority of salad ingredients don’t require any cooking at all and pack a lot of nutrition. You can get more for your money when you buy lettuces and greens – the base of most salads – when you buy heads or bunches, though they need to be washed. For less work, pre-packaged and pre-washed lettuces are usually available at farmers markets or grocery store, though it is still a good idea to wash them.
Dressing and topping combinations add personality to your salad. For example, a dressing with lime, cilantro and olive oil paired with fresh corn and cheese toppings gives a southwest flavor, versus a dressing with sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger paired with marinated tofu or chicken and green onion toppings for an Asian-inspired taste. For more salad ideas, read about King County employee Jeremy Rivera and his mason jar salad habit.
Sandwiches are a classic no or low-cook meal. Look for whole grain bread, pita or tortilla options when possible as they contain more nutrients and dietary fiber. Local bakers often pride themselves on their own unique recipe for whole grain bread – ask about their loaves when you visit the bakery or at the farmers market. Lettuce or other veggies can also take the place of bread for a lighter, healthy alternative.
Eggs offer an easy, budget-friendly way to add protein to your sandwich (or salad), and can often be found at farmers markets or farm stands. Simply boil a few, peel and slice them, or mash them with a bit of yogurt or reduced fat mayo to make egg salad.
Starches like potatoes or winter squash are easy to cook in the microwave and often yield enough to make several meals. They are filling and versatile enough to slice on your salad or on a sandwich.
Raw vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and celery require little besides a quick wash and trim. Paired with hummus or your favorite dip, they make an excellent snack.
For a taste of something sweet, it does not get much easier, or healthy, than fruit. Fruit in season is usually more flavorful and satisfying – find it at local farm stands or farmers markets. Fruit is most abundant from local sources in the summer months. Find the peak season for your favorite fruit below.