How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet when You're Too Tired to Cook

 Easy dinner recipes, Mediterranean diet on a budget, no cook meals

One of the biggest barriers to eating well on a budget is the “tiredness factor”. Sometimes (often), I come home from work so tired that all I want to do is sit on the couch with Jeremy and watch Netflix or read a book. Chopping, prepping, stirring, and heating all sound nearly impossible to me on those days. Jeremy is super sweet and always willing to help out, but I know that he’s exhausted on those days, too!

These are the times when we’re most tempted to eat out. To be completely honest, we do go out once a week or every other week, but most of the time we throw something together quickly that will nourish our bodies and taste good without requiring a lot of work or costing a lot of money.

We have a small monthly date budget deliberately set aside so that we continue to try new activities and restaurants together like we did before we were married (we’ve taken ballroom dance classes, gone indoor skydiving, and taken a pottery class, to name a few), but we don’t like to use up our date money eating out just because we’re tired.

We also have a $360 monthly grocery budget for the two of us, so spending $40 at a restaurant (or even $20 for fast food) doesn’t work well with that.

We also follow the Mediterranean diet about 80% of the time, so eating at restaurants frequently would make this a little more challenging. I’m going to share a few of my favorite too-tired-to-cook-meals today!

 

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Salad kits

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This is what Jeremy and I ate for dinner last night (we were wiped out and got home right at dinnertime from a wonderful week at the lake with my family), along with the next idea on the list. Salad kits are so good and incredibly easy to put together. You just dump the salad mix into a big bowl, add the dressing from the packet, then divide it up between plates, and add the “extras” to the top of each person’s salad.

I love these little kits because they’re a great way to eat a healthy dinner with lots of vegetables and NO cutting or veggie prep!

Aldi has salad kits for $2, which is much cheaper than most other salad kits I’ve found (and they look like the same size to me)! I highly recommend the Asian chopped and Sweet Kale kits. They’re two of our favorites. :)

Leftovers from the freezer

I’ve been working on this one lately, because it’s a major help for when I don’t have any energy to cook. Basically, if I made more food than I need for dinner and the next day’s lunch, I try to put these extra leftovers into containers and throw them in the freezer.

I recently did this with roasted Brussels sprouts. They were getting a little old because we hadn’t used them for dinner the week I bought them as planned, so instead of letting them get another day older, I roasted them with balsamic, honey, and olive oil and put them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. These will be perfect for a night when we don’t have two vegetables planned for dinner and can’t stand the thought of chopping and cooking. ;)

Dip night

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This is my very favorite easy, quick, and no-cook dinner option! We had this a few weeks ago after church. We usually get home on Sundays at around 1 PM, which is way past the time that we like to have lunch. It was perfect!

We cut up an apple using our apple slicer - super easy - then sliced a couple of kiwis and put it all on a plate. Next, we sliced a bell pepper and threw a bag of baby carrots onto another plate. We rounded out the meal with tortilla chips. Our dips were hummus (we made our own ahead of time and froze half for later because it made a bunch), Greek yogurt ranch dip (using a ranch dip packet and swapping out the sour cream for an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt), salsa, and peanut butter for the apples. All of these were easy because we had them on hand.

The one thing I kept in mind as we ate was making sure I ate the vegetables and fruit before I ate the chips. It’s way too easy for me to fill up on chips first and then become too full to eat any vegetables! We also put a reasonable amount of chips in a bowl for the two of us and put the bag away. Having a limited portion in front of us helped me to not overdo it. :)

 

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Scrambled eggs with vegetables

Another easy way to make a quick, balanced meal is to scramble some eggs with a bunch of leftover vegetables from the fridge (or a bag from the freezer!) and top them with a little shredded cheese at the end. This does require a small amount of cooking, but it comes together so quickly that I don’t really mind.

Spinach and kale are perfect for this. I usually have one or the other on hand (in addition to lettuce) since we aim to eat some kind of green leafy vegetable every day. I also buy bell peppers nearly every week, so if we have an extra one on hand (peppers come in packs of 3 at Aldi), I chop it up and add it to the eggs.

First, I sauté the spinach or kale in olive oil with a clove of minced garlic on the stove, then add the eggs and chopped peppers and scramble. I like to serve them with a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top. Saving the cheese for the end helps me use less while still being able to see it looking all melty on top of the eggs. :)

My favorite pairing with scrambled eggs and veggies is a side of fruit - whatever we have on hand, often with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt on top - plus a juice glass-full of kefir. I make sure I buy at least 4 different kinds of fruit at the store every week, so there are always a few options to choose from. If Jeremy is still hungry, he usually has some nuts to top it off.

Eating at home is the way to go

This is true for our health and our budget. When we eat at home, we know exactly what we’re eating and how it was prepared (especially what kind of oil was used to prepare it). We also have full control over how much fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil, etc. we’re getting. It’s also cheaper by far. Even if we run to the store and grab a salad kit, it only sets us back $2.

In addition, the ideas I've shared don’t take any more time or effort than driving to a fast food or sit-down restaurant, parking, ordering, and then waiting for our food. Most of the ideas are also so simple that they require very few dishes to clean (yay!).

Now you know my favorite ideas for too-tired-to-cook nights! What are yours? Share them with me in the comments below!

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