If you cook a healthy dinner for yourself every night of the week, you're impressive. If you don't, you're human.
Even nutritionists, who spend their careers helping people make healthy food choices, sometimes come home exhausted and reach for a frozen pizza -- or something from a can. Eating homemade meals is a healthy habit, but it's not always possible.
The difference, of course, is that nutritionists have a secret weapon: The knowledge of how to do no-cook dinners right. They stock their pantries with healthy staples that can be mixed together quickly and can name the brands that make the best just-in-case frozen meals in a flash.
Take a tip from one (or all) of these 12 registered dietitians and be prepared to eat healthier, almost effortlessly:
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Registered dietician Elizabeth Ward
keeps Amy's Organic Lentil Soup on hand for nights when cooking is not happening. She tops the soup with cheese and eats a side of whole grain toast and fruit to round out the low-budget and low-effort meal.
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Trader Joe's is replete with tasty and healthy frozen options you can stock up on the next time you visit. For licensed nutritionist Monica Reinagel
, frozen edamame and Trader Joe's potstickers are a staple for easy evening eating.
OK, eggs aren't exactly effort free, but they rate low on the difficulty scale. Plus, they're seriously affordable and healthy. Marjorie Nolan Cohn
relies on eggs, steamable veggie bags you can store in the freezer, and a baked potato cooked in the microwave for a quick and satiating meal. The dietician turns to her spice rack to make anything bland taste better.
When Alexis Joseph
is feeling "ambitiously lazy," as she puts it, she'll microwave a sweet potato, fry an egg, and top it all off with avocado and salsa (recipe here
). The whole dish is pretty simple, and if you've got the ingredients on hand, it's an obvious choice.
When potatoes aren't in the dinner cards, this RD will heat up a frozen burrito by Amy's or Luna and Hilary's veggie burgers. Joseph's motto for non-cook dinners? "All hail the microwave!"
There's no hard and fast rule that deems yogurt a breakfast food. And if there was, Rebecca Scritchfield
would not abide. For this dietician, yogurt mixed with fruit and granola is a perfectly substantial dinner when simplicity is important.
Her other easy favorites include tuna mixed with avocado and vinaigrette, black beans with avocado and avocado toast
mixed with hummus. Yum!
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is in Camp Breakfast for Dinner. The nutritionist will pour herself a bowl of whole grain cereal (no, not Lucky Charms) with 2 percent lactose-free milk and have fresh fruit on the side. Can't really get any easier.
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Hallelujah! Registered dietician Katherine Brooking
heats up frozen pizza on the rare days she doesn't cook, so forgive yourself for doing the same.
Brooking said her favorites are Amy's margarita pizzas and spinach pizzas. While the pie's in the oven, Brooking preps a simple bowl of greens with olive oil. And to eat like a nutritionist, know that Brooking will eat about two slices from the pie -- not the entire thing. Save the rest for a future hungry day.
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It's smart to have an arsenal of trusty eats for days when dinner must be quick. Registered dietician Vandana Sheth
has three options for this inevitable situation: She'll make a stir-fry with frozen vegetables, tofu and leftover brown rice or quinoa. Or she'll heat up a can of beans and add spices and tomato sauce and wrap it all up in a whole grain tortilla. Her third option is to mix those lentils with frozen chopped greens and a piece of whole grain bread. Easy peasy!
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Dietitian Rochelle Sirota
lives life without frozen meals. When in a hurry or just not in the mood to cook, she'll throw together a salad with avocado, beans, nuts, cheese and whatever else is in the pantry.
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cooks at home a lot
, so her leftovers are simple to reheat on days that she doesn't.
"Whenever there are leftovers, I put them into single-serve containers or bags and have them well-organized in my freeze," the nutritionist said. "When I’m time-pressed and feel like there’s nothing to eat, I just open up my freezer and voila, there’s something there."
If you find yourself dumping extras into the trash, consider looking out for your future self. Sure, storing the food may take a couple extra minutes, but weeks from now, a hungrier you will be glad you saved yourself something delicious.
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All hail kale! Keeping your fridge stocked with the leafy green is the thing to do, as it doesn't seem to wilt as fast as spinach.
On busy nights, nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner
will mix kale with frozen or pre-cooked brown rice and a hard-boiled egg or refried canned beans. When it's available, avocado dashed with hot sauce makes it in to her hearty bowl.
When she doesn't feel like cooking or GrubHub, nutritionist Elisa Zied
says she'll eat nuts and string cheese, some steamed frozen veggies, like brussels sprouts, or a banana with peanut butter and a side of low-fat organic chocolate milk. Why not?