I'm a nutritionist – this is what I have for dinner when I'm too lazy to cook
Food experts share their go-to meals for those times when you want a nourishing evening meal… fast!
It’s officially the summer of the “lazy girl dinner” – so called because of the current TikTok craze for hastily assembling supper after a long day at work, or simply when energy levels are low.
There's been controversy around the phrase "girl dinner", as many believe the trend is encouraging people to choose tiny portions instead of full, nutritious meals, which may lead to disordered eating. With many examples of a so-called "girl dinner" being comprised of things like cheese and crackers, it's clear that not enough fruits, vegetables or protein are being consumed. There's also discussion around the use of the term "girl", and whether this implies that small, dainty meals are linked to the idea of being feminine.
However, this new brand of instant dining (made famous on TikTok, where the hashtag #lazygirldinner has been viewed 82 million times) doesn't have to be unhealthy. You can create a satisfying plate of food that is both nourishing and tasty, while still being fast to prepare.
So, if you’re in a beans-on-toast rut on busy days and would like some quick meal inspiration, we’re here to help. Nutritionists and dietitians share their favourite speedy dinners – and there’s not an instant noodle in sight.
Plus, scroll down for 10 of our best no-cook recipes – perfect for the summer months and beyond.
Healthy "lazy girl dinners"
Sardines with vegetables, olive oil and Greek yogurt
Expert: Kerry Torrens, registered nutritionist
One of my store cupboard essentials is a can of sardines – not only are they packed with "good-for-you" omega-3 fats and vitamin D but they’re super convenient and cheap too.
They are also the hero ingredient for my favourite speedy supper - just add a fridge raid for onions, peppers, courgette, tomatoes or whatever else you have in your veg drawer, drizzle with oil from the can, and cover and blitz for two minutes on high in the microwave or until the veg are soft. I serve topped with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt.
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This speedy supper is loaded with protein and you’ll be packing in one or more of your five-a-day too.
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Chickpea salad bowl with tuna, vegetables and seeds
Expert: Linia Patel, dietitian and performance nutritionist
I have a few quick, easy options. A salad bowl is simple: open a tin of chickpeas, add a tin of sardines or tuna in olive oil, add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and mix it all together. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top and add fresh herbs, if you have any. Finish off with a dose of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Another quick one is a grain bowl with ready-to-eat grains such as quinoa, wild rice or lentils, whichever colourful vegetables you have in the fridge, topped with ready cooked salmon or chicken or smoked tofu and finished with pumpkin or sesame seeds. The dressing - a mix of tahini and apple cider vinegar - takes it to the next level.
And if I’m really short on time I’ll do eggs, beans or cheese on toast, with a slice of avocado and kimchi.
- Looking for inspiration? Try our top 10 healthiest salads
Pasta in tomato sauce with peas and spinach
Expert: Jenna Hope, registered nutritionist
When I’m short on time I’ll often go for a red lentil pasta with tomato sauce, which I’ll bulk up with peas and spinach, two ingredients I always keep in my freezer.
Red lentil pasta is higher in protein than regular pasta, meaning that it keeps you fuller for longer. I always opt for a sauce that doesn’t contain any added sugars or sweeteners.
Incorporating frozen peas and spinach is a great way to increase protein, iron and folate into the meal.
It’s quick, easy and delicious. What’s more is that all the ingredients can be kept in the store cupboard or in the freezer, meaning it’s a great go-to when you’re low on fresh food too.
- Discover more no-cook pasta sauces
Rice salad with salmon, basil, cucumber and radishes
Expert: Helen Bond, registered dietitian
My ‘no cook’ dinner at this time of the year is a lovely rice salad that I can rustle up with ingredients already in my fridge and store cupboard.
I use a pouch of basmati wholegrain microwave rice, which helps contribute to my recommended daily intake of 30g of fibre for gut and heart health.
A drained tin of salmon is packed full of heart and brain healthy omega-3 fats, I add a few torn basil leaves from my kitchen window plant, a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, and radishes from the fridge. Plus, some finely chopped red onion.
All of which top up my plant points (the aim is to eat 30 unique plants a week), which my gut microbes love. A dollop of low fat mayo or pesto and it’s done.
- Find out how to cook healthy meals in the microwave
Peanut butter and sliced bananas on a rye cracker
Expert: Alison Clark, registered dietitian
If I can’t be bothered to cook, one of my go-to “dinners” is peanut butter on sesame rye crackers topped with sliced banana, which hits the three main components of a meal.
Peanut butter contains protein and healthy fats, the rye crackers have carbs and the sesame seeds contain iron. A banana is one of your five-a-day or, if you’re aiming to eat 30 unique plants a week, one of your plant points.
Another is a salad of tomatoes, lettuce and any other vegetables I have in my fridge, which helps me increase my plant points and fibre. I add oily fish - often a tin of mackerel in a BBQ sauce (for omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and protein), and I’ll roughly crumble rye crackers on top for crunch (and carbs).
- Add to your snacking repertoire with these 10 healthy snacks
Salmon poke bowl with avocado, coriander and rocket
Expert: VJ Hamilton, registered nutritionist
I always prioritise making a balanced evening meal, no matter how I’m feeling. A salmon poke bowl is full of delicious nutrient-dense ingredients which include pre-cooked salmon (topped with tamari and sesame seeds), avocado, coriander, rocket and spring onion and I sometimes add pre-cooked quinoa for extra fibre.
I like this dish as it is rich in healthy fats such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, and monounsaturated fats have been shown to raise HDL cholesterol, which may benefit cardiovascular health. It is also a blood-balancing meal, so it is less likely to get blood sugar dips at night, which can affect sleep.
Another meal I love is lettuce wraps, adding in pre-cooked chicken, red pepper, shredded cabbage, flavouring with rice vinegar and tamari or hummus. This high-protein meal is great after the gym, and I like to finish with a serving of pomegranates and coconut kefir for dessert.
- Find out more about how to eat for good health
Vegetable hash with halloumi
Expert: Aisling Piggott, registered dietitian
I make a one-pan vegetable hash that everybody likes and is a great recovery meal for me after a gym session when I’m too tired to cook.
I put lots of vegetables such as mushrooms and tinned sweetcorn and whatever’s in my fridge, including leftovers like potatoes (I’ll use bread if I haven’t got any potatoes).
I’ll add some fried halloumi and eggs, mix it all together and serve with a slice of bread. It takes five minutes.
It’s a balanced dish with carbs, protein and lots of vegetables so it’s also full of fibre and vitamin C and using leftovers is a great way to reduce food waste.
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10 no-cook recipes
Assemble simple ingredients to make something special with our easy dishes - no cooking required
Load soft tortillas with chargrilled veg, beans, tomato salsa and smashed avocado.
2. Salmon and smacked cucumber noodles
Make this tasty salmon & cucumber rice noodle salad for an easy midweek supper.
3. Vietnamese prawn summer rolls
Fresh-tasting rice paper rolls packed with shellfish, light vermicelli noodles, carrots, cucumber and herbs, with a sweet ginger chilli dipping sauce.
4. Epic summer salad
Perfect for BBQs and buffets, our epic salad is an assembly job of gorgeous ingredients.
5. Mango chutney and chicken sliders
Top these chicken sliders with mango chutney, red onion, chilli and cucumber salad, and a mint and yogurt dressing.
6. Prawn and grain poke bowls
Quickly marinate prawns in a chilli & lime dressing, then serve with grains, mango, radish, avocado and spring onions.
7. Mexican corn salad
With sweetcorn, tomatoes and red onions, this makes for a colourful, speedy dish.
8. Peppered mackerel and pink pickled onion salad
This quick pickled onion is impressive but takes little time.
9. Avocado panzanella
With just 20 minutes preparation you'll be able to whip up this colourful avocado and bread salad in no time.
10. Raw coconut truffles
These raw, nutty bites make a lovely, dairy-free alternative to chocolate for an after-dinner nibble