Busy schedules call for meals that can be prepared between Zoom calls, or while you’re squeezing in a short workout. While a few of these low-prep, two-step meals require a crockpot, Instant Pot, air fryer, or an oven to pull off, it may be a worthy investment in the long run to buy one of those tools and might work out cheaper than ordering endless take-out meals.
When you need an easy tailgating recipe, fire up the crock pot and have this warm bowl of comfort cooking overnight. While the recipe calls for chili beans, black, cannellini, or kidney beans can be used as well.
Pro Tip: Follow the 1:1:1 ratio of one pound of meat, one can of beans, and one can of diced tomatoes. Add a small can of tomato sauce with a pinch of chili powder if it gets too thick.
Recipe: Yellow Bliss Road
What happens when you combine cheese, hash browns, eggs, and bacon? A hearty brunch that’ll easily carry you through a weekend hike or toward an early dinner. This 30-minute recipe uses an Instant Pot pot-in-pot (PIP) cooking method (using a 3 quart Instant Pot liner, but can also be done in the slow cooker, although it will take significantly longer.
Recipe: 365 Day of Crockpot
Regardless of how you choose to make this pulled pork — in a Dutch oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot — don’t omit the (not so) secret ingredient: Coke. It adds a touch of sweetness and works to tenderize the meat while it’s cooking. If you’re short on time, the Instant Pot will get the job done.
Recipe: Tastes Better From Scratch
Cheese and pasta — what’s not to love? This easy, weekday dinner is almost too easy to pull off. All you need is your favorite brand of stuffed ravioli and all the leftover cheese in your fridge (the recipe does recommend mozzarella and Parmesan cheese) and you’re good to go.
Pro Tip: Splurge on a good quality marinara or spaghetti sauce for fuller, more robust flavors.
There is no shame in using Velveeta to make this gooey, cheesy comfort dish — it’s actually recommended, as it melts to a smooth, creamy consistency. Shorten your prep work by microwaving the milk, mustard, pepper, and cheese before stirring in the macaroni.
Recipe: My Recipes
This brunch-worthy meal is almost effortless to put together. Simply crack an egg in the bagel hole and layer with sliced olives, fresh herbs, and shredded Parmesan. For variety, use different bagel flavors.
Recipe: Better Homes and Gardens
Few recipes will be as quick and easy to pull together. Using a microwave and a sweet, tangy mix of apricot preserves, soy sauce, minced garlic, and ginger powder, this not-so-basic meal gets a gourmet twist thanks to the inclusion of roasted cashews.
Recipes: Taste of Home
Related: 50 Cheap and Easy Chicken Recipes
This not-too-tricky recipe wins extra points for not requiring additional time to marinate the tuna. Just smear on a generous amount of miso paste and make sure the tuna steak is covered with sesame seeds before frying it in a hot pan till a nice sear is achieved.
Recipe: Jamie Oliver
The beauty of leftover rice is that it’s perfect as part of a fried-rice meal and can be combined with any (or all) your favorite ingredients, such as bottled kimchi. Add a freshly-fried egg on top for extra protein points.
Recipe: Not Your Average College Food
Technically a pot roast is a two-step process if you skip the browning stage (which is optional) and use pre-cut vegetables. All that’s left then is to assemble the roast in the crock pot (meat over veggies) and make a gravy from its juices.
Pro Tip: Do check on your pot roast from time to time to ensure the liquid level doesn’t drop below a quarter of the way up the roast, or it might end up being too dry.
Recipe: Taste of Home
This recipe gets points for its ease of execution. Since there’s no need to cook the rice beforehand, aside from chopping and having to saute some ingredients, you can put this together, turn the heat down, and walk away for a 20-minute workout. It’ll be ready by the time you’re cooling down.
Recipe: The Girl Who Ate Everything
Delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs in less than three hours? It is possible if you’ve got an Instant Pot handy. The trick is in remembering to marinate the ribs at least six to eight hours beforehand so the flavors from the red curry paste have time to develop. While this recipe takes longer than other Instant Pot meals, the multi-layered sweet, spicy, salty flavors will be worth it.
Recipe: Karens Kitchen Stories
When you’ve scored a bunch of chicken thighs on special, this one and done, idiot-proof recipe requires minimal chopping and about 40 minutes in your humble toaster. If nutritional yeast is not available, sprinkle over fine-grated Parmesan for added flavor.
Recipe: My Beloved Toaster
Eating keto gets unnecessarily complicated if you’re trying to follow your macros strictly. This two-step meal solves the healthy fats problem quickly and is affordable enough to be part of a weekly meal plan. A dash of Worcestershire and another of soy sauce give the chop a distinct, tangy flavor and an easy, pre-washed side salad or steam-in-a-bag Brussels sprouts adds extra vitamins and minerals.
Pro Tip: Use avocado oil for its high smoke point and get the frying pan hot enough to impart a nice, seared crust.
Recipe: Kali Eats Keto
When you have unexpected guests swing by, this sheet-pan shrimp boil can be prepared while sundowners are being polished off. As the potatoes are cooking, combine the other ingredients so that the flavors can develop. Toss it all together before baking until the shrimp is cooked through.
Recipe: Yellow Bliss Road
While this dish could be made in the oven or frying pan, the air fryer makes it a less-smokey exercise (handy if your fire alarm goes off at the slightest hint of smoke) but still produces moist, beautifully cooked, and crispy meatballs. Take note that this keto, low carb version uses crushed pork rinds instead of breadcrumbs but you could omit either and keep it zero-carb.
Pro Tip: Vary the seasonings (Italian, Indian, etc..) so you get two different flavors with one set of meatballs.
Recipe: Keto Connect
Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber. Unfortunately, they usually take a while to cook and rarely make it into “throw and go” recipes. The Instant Pot solves this issue and this Italian-style, veggie-packed meal with nuggets of tasty Italian sausage can be sorted in under 45 minutes (inclusive of prep and depressurizing time).
Recipe: The Cooking Family
As autumn leaves start to fall, the body automatically craves hearty, comforting, full-flavored meals like this version of crock-pot taco soup. While it’s not a dump-and-go recipe – you do need to brown the meat first – prep time is under 20 minutes and, meat aside, requires little effort aside from opening some cans and adding seasoning. A meal that can be prepped at lunchtime for an early dinner, is one to keep on rotation.
Pro Tip: If using canned beans be sure to add in all the liquid.
Recipe: Recipe Fairy
Baked eggs are some of the easiest (and most nutritious) recipes to turn out. While this genius version, loaded with sour cream and onion potato chips, sounds more like a Tik Tok food trend, it tastes great and is a worthy brunch contender. Add in prosciutto and sundried tomatoes if you’re feeling like spoiling yourself a little.
Dump-and-go recipes without the need to chop or saute anything are a winner for busy individuals who just want to come home to a hot meal. This meat-free recipe using uncooked quinoa can be prepped in the morning with your coffee, and the handy crock pot will do the heavy lifting for a filling, satisfying lunch that you can graze on all day.
Recipe: Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Whether you’re for or against the idea of a lectin-free diet (lectins are a type of plant protein found in foods like lentils, beans, and legumes that are said to trigger inflammation in some), there’s no debating these veggie medallions make for a great side or main dish. There’s some chopping (buy pre-cut to skip this step) and blanching involved, but once that’s done, pulse to the desired consistency and have a meal baked and ready to eat in under 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: This meal can be frozen for up to two months so you’re never short on a vegetable side dish.
Recipe: Hold The Lectin
This low-prep, slow-cooker recipe is hard not to love. A great recipe for when you’ve got a full day ahead, just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker, set it, and forget about it until mealtime. A recipe that can be made dairy- and gluten-free, or even vegan, roll this out on a cold night (or if you’re feeling under the weather) and savor its tummy-warming flavors.
Recipe: Eating Bird Food
Craving a bit of spice? This quick and easy-to-make Indian recipe takes less than 30 minutes in the Instant Pot (including saute and depressurizing time). If you can’t be bothered to make rice, serve this dish with some fresh naan bread, or heat up some frozen roti or flatbread to scoop up the rich, spicy, creamy sauce.
Recipe: Food Lust People Love
Swap the usual beef patty for a lighter and leaner option using ground turkey. Easy to make for a late weeknight meal, prep some extra patties to enjoy later in the week. Just mix all the ingredients well, toss it on the grill, and pair it with your favorite burger bun or lettuce leaf for a carb-free meal.
Recipe: Eating Bird Food
A meal you can prepare while on a Zoom call, just unroll premade dough and layer with onions, bacon, and cheese, jelly-roll style. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes and it’s done.
Pro Tip: Spoil yourself and get a higher-quality ham and shredded cheese.
Recipe: The Girl Who Ate Everything