Looking after our mental health is difficult enough, that sometimes basic needs fall to the wayside. Sometimes we feel we’re not worth the effort, that we don’t deserve anything special. Sometimes it’s just that we don’t have the will or energy to cook. It’s okay to fall into a slump and eat junk every now and again; the problem with doing it frequently is that if we eat like shit, we tend to feel like shit too. Searching for recipes doesn’t help either when even the ‘simple’ ones suggest about 15 different ingredients and a total cooking time of 2 hours.
Please, please eat. Don’t starve yourself because you’re depressed. You are worth the time and effort cooking takes, and eating well is a great step towards better mental health. But maybe you’re not here because you’re depressed; maybe you live a busy life, or you’re disabled, or on a low income. In any case, these 4 simple recipes require almost no prep, and no fancy ingredients. They’re also all vegan, although you can edit these recipes however you like to better suit your needs:
I don’t take pictures because I’m not a food blogger, and I never will be.
One word: Community. They looked so good I just had to try making them myself. It’s fairly easy; you could probably even do this in the microwave with instant noodles.
- 260 grams/1 pack of noodles (check they’re not egg noodles if you’re vegan)
- 2 tbsp butter/butter alternative
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (if you haven’t got this, substitute with lemon juice to taste)
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- salt and pepper
- Cook the noodles in a saucepan according to packet instructions. Drain and put back into the saucepan with the butter, stirring frequently until all the butter has melted.
- Take off the heat and add nutritional yeast, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
Tomato pasta bake
This recipe is pretty basic, but you can always bulk it up with vegetables and other seasonings to suit your taste. As it is, it’s probably the easiest dinner ever.
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 250g pasta
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp basil (can substitute with mixed herbs)
- 150ml milk (optional, but makes the sauce SO much nicer)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Put all of the ingredients in an ovenproof dish, cover with a lid or foil and cook for 30-40 minutes
Vegetable coconut curry
This is definitely my favourite ‘lazy’ meal. I love Thai green curry, but I don’t always have green chillies and kaffir lime leaves hanging around. This is my quick and easy compromise. I serve this with basmati rice (normally the 2 minute microwave rice if it’s one of those days), but I’ve also enjoyed it just on its own.
- 2 tbsp oil (bonus if it’s sesame or coconut, but it’s not essential)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Pinch of chilli flakes (adjust according to preference)
- 2 tsp medium curry powder
- Lime juice to taste
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried coriander (I REALLY like coriander. You can adjust this amount or omit completely if you’re not like me – your curry might not be as green, but put whatever spices you think would taste the best because it’s your curry and nobody can stop you.)
- 1 400ml tin coconut milk
- Frozen green vegetables: Add as much or as little as you prefer. I like a combination of broccoli, spinach, peas and green beans. I also add extras like cauliflower and chickpeas, as these don’t affect the colour of the curry sauce.
- Heat the oil and spices in a saucepan over a low heat until they combine to make a paste
- Add the coconut milk and lime juice and bring to a boil
- Add the frozen vegetables (if using tinned chickpeas, don’t add them until the very end as they only need to be heated, not boiled)
- Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10-15 minutes
If you have tinned beans, rice, and some spices, you have a pretty simple Mexican dish. You can experiment with different ingredients and flavours to really make it your own. I serve this either with rice, nachos, or roll it up in a tortilla and have burritos!
- 1 tin mixed beans (Aldi sell these in tomato sauce, but if you only have mixed beans in water, drain the water and add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes to this recipe. You can also just have tinned kidney or pinto beans if you don’t have or want mixed beans.)
- 150g sweetcorn, tinned or frozen
- 1 tbsp coriander (again, coriander is king, but I understand not everyone likes it. Leave it out if you prefer.)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- Lime juice to taste
- Salt and pepper
- Add the mixed beans, tinned tomatoes (if the beans don’t come in a tomato sauce), and sweetcorn to a saucepan over a low heat, bring to a simmer
- Add all of the spices, but taste as you go – those spices can sneak up on you! You may prefer it more or less spicy
Please let me know if you try any of these recipes – I’d love to know what you think!