No Effort, No Regret: Healthy Meals for Couch Potatoes

IF I HAD A PENNY for every time my habitual laziness interfered with my admittedly half-hearted aspirations for a healthy lifestyle, I’d probably be able to afford Arnold Schwarzenegger as a personal trainer by now. For every frenzied workout session, there’s always another all-day one-woman Netflix-and-chill extravaganza; and for every day spent laboriously planning nutritious but complicated meals, there’s always another day that ends in pizza.

My quest for a happy medium between health and effortlessness has led me to realise that there are three key factors to consider when maintaining a healthy diet: simplicity, versatility, and speed. When you’re rocking the couch potato life, you don’t want to faff around with hours of prep time and convoluted recipes – you want food, you want it easy, you want it now. With this in mind, it’s become a lot easier to gradually adapt my eating habits without (heaven forbid) sacrificing my lazy ways. I’ve listed a few lazy-friendly meals below that I make pretty regularly, outlining a typical day’s worth of food.

 

porridge no creditOvernight Oats

We all know how valuable a good breakfast is for establishing a healthy routine. If you’re as lazy as me, however, choosing between a substantial breakfast and spending another year or so in bed can often be an extremely painful dilemma. On days when I manage to drag myself to the kitchen more than five minutes before I have to leave the house, I generally go for a hearty bowl of porridge.

Topped with anything you want, a lovely bowl of warm oaty goodness is cheap, virtually effortless and remarkably healthy. Overnight oats are a wonderful porridge substitute for more hectic mornings, and with just a minute or so of preparation on the night before are even easier to make. Once again, the recipe below is pretty flexible. I usually top my overnight oats with banana, grapes, flaked almonds and sultanas, depending what I happen to have in the cupboard.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dairy milk/almond milk/coconut milk/whatever milk
  • Toppings of your choice

Method

  • Mix the oats and milk in an airtight container
  • Refrigerate overnight
  • Add toppings
  • Enjoy

And that’s all there is to it. You can add frozen or fresh berries to the oats before leaving overnight for an extra fruity flavour, but it’s lovely either way. Quick tip for party people – oats are a surprisingly effective hangover treatment. If you’re looking for a wild night with none of the regret, these oats topped with peanut butter and banana can be a lifesaver on the morning after the night before. Delicious and nutritious, overnight oats are surely the overlord of easy healthy breakfasts.

 

Couscous Salad

Ahhh, couscous. The godfather of versatile lunchbox options. What’s easier than turning on the kettle, pouring contents of said kettle into a bowl, and waiting for a minute? Not much, really. Salad, on the other hand, can sometimes seem like a lot of fuss on stressful days. There are ways to simplify your salad, however; choose cherry tomatoes over salad tomatoes to escape the woes of chopping, and maybe keep a tub of grated carrot in the fridge to dip into every day. The beauty of salad is its adaptability, as you can chuck just about any food in and it’ll be just fine. Leftover meat? Fine. Cheese? Yeah, sure. Chickpeas? Why not. Anything goes in salad town. Couscous is great for bulking out a salad, and has such a faster cooking time than pasta or rice. I like to mix in a shelfload of herbs and spices before adding the boiled water, as it soaks up the flavours and becomes an aromatic delight.

 

Freestyle Vegetable Soup

When it comes to low-effort cooking, there’s not much easier than a one-pot meal. Minimal washing up and a long cooking time means you have some free time to catch up on all the stuff you haven’t bothered to do yet. If you cook in large batches and freeze portions for later use, you get even more free time on another day – you can just whip it out, slam it in a pan, heat it up and get it down you. One meal I frequently turn to in times of idleness is a simple vegetable soup. Fuss-free, tasty and versatile, this soup is the perfect easy recipe for lazy nights in. Feel free to add or omit vegetables as you see fit, this recipe is really just a guideline; this is also why the measurements aren’t particularly specific, as you can basically put as much as you want of anything in and it’ll probably still turn out okay.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1-3 celery sticks
  • Mushrooms
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 3-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Mixed herbs

Method

  • Finely chop the onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and carrots
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium high heat
  • Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots to the saucepan, and cook until the onions are clear
  • Add the mushrooms, the stock, a generous amount of mixed herbs, and salt and pepper to taste
  • Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer for approximately 45 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy

So that’s the soup, and that’s the lot. Time for a little lie down.