It may sound a bit hypocritical considering I write for Spoon, but I'm no cook. In fact, I have a talent for burning meals. One time, I put some cookie dough (which was pre-made by the way) into an oven and set the timer for exactly 10 minutes. The suggested baking time was 15 minutes. When I opened the oven, all that was left was a pan of black soot. Nice.

This summer, I lived alone for the first time. Every time I tried to cook in my apartment, I set off the smoke alarm. It was infuriating. But I had to eat. So I started preparing food instead of cooking. And the results were more than satisfactory. 

Meal Prep Example 

Meal preparation is similar to arts and crafts. It's step-by-step, hard to mess up, and requires minimal set up and clean up. Plus, it's a great go-to if you have a busy schedule, tend to burn everything you cook or simply don't have the appliances necessary to pop out a roast chicken.  

All you need to do is grab a few fresh ingredients, a knife, and have a microwave handy. Below, I'll show you how to prep with five healthy foods. And later on, you can mix and match these individual ingredients with others. 


arugula, spinach, salad, avocado
Rachel Hicks

Avocados help control blood pressure, eyesight and fight diseases. They're also full of fiber, which helps you stay fuller for longer. Easy to store (room temperature) and easy to prepare, they're a must-have.

Cut them in half longways and remove the pit, then eat them with salt and pepper and a spoon as an appetizer, or cut them up in squares or slices to use as add-ins for your dinner bowl. 


risotto, cereal, rice
Jocelyn Hsu

Rice is simple to pre-make — even with a no good stove top, it's pretty difficult to mess it up. It's also a great base for any meal, and a staple in many countries. If you have no stove-top, and no pots or pans, just order some steamed rice from a Chinese take out. It's quite reasonably priced.

Brussel Sprouts

pesto, asparagus, brown rice, chicken, broccoli, risotto, rice
Rachel Hicks

Brussel sprouts can be prepared in quite a few different ways, and believe it or not, can be eaten raw. If you have a microwave, grocery stores sell frozen Brussels that actually taste really good. Some come with additives like butter or cheese, but you can buy them plain too.

Purchase them raw, cut them in half, add some salt and pepper or other seasoning, and put them aside to use later on in your meal preparation. 


vegetable, cherry, pasture, tomato, cherry tomato
Caroline Ingalls

Tomatoes good for your hair, nails, and skin, can be stored at room temperature, and are great for taking on trips, as long as you make sure not to squish them at the bottom of your pack. And you can get fancy with how you cut them — little squares, lemon-shaped, circles. Here's where the arts and crafts part gets more intense. 

Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

jam, oil, tea
Jocelyn Hsu

All you need is some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Leave the salad dressings on the shelf. They're messy, require refrigeration, and expensive. Combine the above ingredients in a big bowl, add these condiments on top, stir, and voila! You have yourself a healthy, filling, easily-made dinner. That should've only taken about five minutes, minus the grocery shopping. Yay meal preparation! Who needs cooking? 

And voila!

oil, avocado, risotto, brown rice, chicken, rice, spinach
Rachel Hicks

Think Chipotle, but without the Mexican twist. After you combine the above ingredients together, you'll have a colorful, red, green, and white, nutritious burrito bowl, without the extra calories. And, if you're feeling proactive, chop up more tomatoes, Brussels, and make some extra rice, so you can make more bowls for the rest of your week.