With busy lifestyles and commitments, it can be hard to find the time to cook from scratch or follow lengthy recipes. But being busy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health and nutrition. There are several ways to eat healthfully that don’t require giving up your gym time or outings with friends.
Start by keeping the fridge, freezer and pantry stocked with versatile ingredients like eggs, whole grains, frozen vegetables and canned beans.
Beans are an inexpensive, convenient and easy way to add protein to any meal, or even build a meal around. From black beans to kidney beans and garbanzo beans, legumes are great replacements for meat and offer a number of health benefits. Beans have been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve satiety, reduce blood sugar and increase the diversity of our microbiome. Moreover, beans contain little to no fat and are rich in iron, calcium and potassium; 1/2 cup provides about 110 calories, 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of satiating fiber.
Getting started with beans can be hassle-free — try one of these five healthy meal ideas that don’t require a recipe or spending tons of time in the kitchen.
Beans and eggs go really well together, as exemplified by the classic Mexican dish, huevos rancheros. For an easier riff, add some cooked canned beans into scrambled eggs along with chopped veggies for a hearty, well-balanced meal that’s perfect any time of day.
If you’re looking for a smart way to clean out the fridge, chop and throw whatever leftovers you have into a bell pepper with your choice of beans and cheese. You could also add some rice and leftover meat to make it more filling. Then place it in the oven at 350ºF (176ºC) for 30–45 minutes.
Simply mash a can of chickpeas and spread them on whole-grain toast with a layer of smashed avocado. Season with a little sea salt and red pepper flakes, and you have an easy, no-cook meal.
If you’re short on time, throw whatever veggies you have into a bowl and add some beans and cheese along with greens and a grain. For example, try a combination of roasted sweet potatoes, spinach, quinoa or brown rice and cherry tomatoes. If you have some cooked chicken or another protein, you can add that, too.
Simply take a tortilla, layer it with beans, cheese and any variety of veggies or proteins you desire, wrap and eat. Consider throwing it in the toaster oven to get it extra crisp.