15 Ideas for Healthy, Ready-to-Eat Meals at Grocery Stores

Veggie burger

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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Want to eat nutritious meals, but don't have the time, energy, or skills to cook? Whether you've had a long day of work, possibly followed by shuttling your kids to different activities, or you just don't like to cook, these ready-to-eat, minimal-prep meals are for you. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can in fact eat nutritious, semi-homemade meals, without having to bust out lots of pots and pans.

Use ready-made and frozen shortcuts to make your life easier. They can also be budget-friendly whether you cook for one or a whole family. Here are 15 nutritious and ready-to-eat meals for busy days and nights, according to a registered dietitian.

Tuna Melt

Canned tuna

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

A tuna melt is a quick and easy meal you can throw together with staples you might already have in your pantry.

Take two slices of bread, mix a can of tuna in water with a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, add a slice of cheddar cheese, and grill in a pan until the cheese is melted. The combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in this meal will keep you full and satisfied and you'll get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the tuna. Pair with a side salad or a piece of fruit to round it out.

Bagged Salad with Precooked Chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Bagged salad kits on produce section shelves are an excellent base for a quick lunch or dinner. They are a great way to get lots of vegetables in your meal without having to do any cooking. Use the fixings already in the bag or add more of your own such as shredded cheese, raw nuts, and seeds. Add a lean protein like precooked or rotisserie chicken to turn your bagged salad into a complete meal.

Chicken Quesadilla

Speaking of rotisserie chicken, they are a versatile and inexpensive protein to level up any meal. For a 5-minute lunch or dinner, add rotisserie chicken and shredded cheese to a tortilla and cook in a pan on both sides until the cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and guacamole on the side for dipping. 


Smoothies are a quick and convenient meal to sip on, especially if you’re on the go. With no cooking required, smoothies are an easy way to get carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in a meal even on your busiest days. Start with any frozen fruit, plain low fat Greek yogurt, and your choice of milk in a blender. For added nutrition, include fresh spinach, natural nut butter, flaxseeds or hemp seeds, and protein powder.

Veggie Burgers

Veggie burger

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

In the frozen section of your grocery store, you’ll likely find a large selection of veggie burgers. Look for ones that are high in protein, made from beans or soy protein, for a filling and satisfying plant-based meal. Serve them on a bun, over rice or quinoa, or broken up into a salad.

Frozen Waffles with Peanut Butter and Banana

What’s easier than popping a couple of waffles in the toaster oven? Any frozen waffle will do, but whole-grain waffles with fiber may keep you fuller for longer. Next, top the waffles with a source of dietary fat and protein to complete the meal. Some favorites include natural peanut butter and sliced banana, avocado and hemp seeds, or cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt and fruit

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

A yogurt parfait is a quick and easy no-cook breakfast or lunch. Plus, plain, low fat yogurt is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Sprinkle in your favorite granola and berries for a balanced meal that keeps you satisfied for hours. Need a portable breakfast? Just pop this one into a container and take it to go.

Mashed Chickpea Salad

You’ve heard of tuna and chicken salad, but have you tried their vegetarian counterpart? A can of chickpeas is a versatile pantry staple and you can turn it into a quick salad with just a few ingredients. Mix together chickpeas, mayonnaise, mustard, chopped celery, and chopped carrots in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until desired consistency.

Eat your chickpea salad between two slices of whole grain bread, over a green salad, or in lettuce wraps. Chickpea salad is high in protein and fiber and is a good meal-prep recipe to keep in your fridge all week long.

English Muffin Pizza

English muffins are an easy and tasty carbohydrate option to keep around your kitchen. For a 5-minute meal or snack, top them with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese and toast in the oven until the cheese is melted. For an added nutrient boost, you can add your favorite vegetables or lean protein on top.

Turkey Sandwich

Turkey wrap sandwich

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Cold cuts sometimes get a bad wrap, but there’s nothing like a classic turkey sandwich to keep you fueled. Freshly roasted turkey slices are an excellent source of protein and B vitamins. Load up your sandwich with veggies, cheese, and hummus or salad dressing to tie it all together.


Ramen noodles

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Did you know that you can make ramen in the microwave? Pick up a miso broth, a source of gut-friendly probiotics, at the grocery store and pour your desired serving into a large soup bowl. Next add your favorite mix-ins including noodles, frozen edamame, mushrooms, scallions, and shredded chicken. Microwave until hot and add a soft-boiled egg to top it off.

Canned Soup

A cozy bowl of soup may be just what you need for a quick lunch or dinner. Lentil or chicken noodle may be filling just on their own, while you may want to pair tomato soup with a hearty grilled cheese sandwich. Look for low-sodium canned soup varieties and add extra veggies, rice, or noodles to bulk them up.

Frozen Pizza


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Yes, frozen pizza can in fact be part of a nutritious and balanced diet. Not only is it delicious and comforting, but it is also so quick and easy. Buy a veggie pizza or top a cheese one with extra vegetables for more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You can also pair your pizza with a side salad.

Stir Fry

It’s simple to throw a homemade stir fry together with just a few frozen ingredients and pantry staples. Start by cooking a bag of stir fry vegetables in a pan with olive oil. Add chopped chicken or cubed tofu and cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F and the tofu is golden brown. Then add a low-sugar, store-bought teriyaki or peanut sauce and serve over microwaved frozen whole grain brown rice.

Pasta with Veggies

You can never go wrong with whole-grain pasta mixed with fresh or frozen veggies and tomato sauce. A great source of fiber and flavor, a quick pasta dish will no doubt be a hit with the whole family. If you’re looking to bulk up the nutrition, mix in some rotisserie chicken, sauteed ground beef, grated cheese, or fresh herbs.

A Word From Verywell

It is absolutely possible to eat balanced and nutritious meals while rarely turning on your stove or oven. Many grocery stores have tons of great options for you to put together easy, healthy, and satisfying meals with just a few ingredients in little time and minimal cooking skills. Consider speaking with a registered dietitian for additional meal ideas that meet your individual nutrition goals and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you eat a balanced diet when you do not like to cook?

    With a little bit of planning, you can eat a balanced and nutritious diet even if you don’t like to cook. Get to know the prepared foods and frozen section of your grocery store well and you can mix and match different items to make healthy and complete meals. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and they can be easily microwaved or sauteed. And don’t be afraid of frozen chicken, fish, and veggie burgers for easy proteins. There are also many carbohydrate options that you can heat and eat, such as rice, quinoa, and even pasta. Pick up some store-bought sauces such as teriyaki, marinara, and pesto to boost the flavor in your meals.

  • What are the pros and cons of packaged foods?

    The term 'packaged foods' encompasses any food that comes in a package, which ranges from cereals, cookies, and candy to items like yogurt, sliced apples, and cheese. Packaged food can have many advantages. They are quick and convenient for when you don’t have time to cook or simply don’t want to. They can also be a good source of nutrition if they include added protein, fiber, vitamins, or minerals. The cons of packaged foods are that they can be high in sodium and other additives. If you are concerned about your sodium intake, you may want to consume packaged foods in moderation.

  • What are the benefits of eating ready-to-eat meals?

    Ready-to-eat meals are beneficial for a number of reasons. Ready-to-eat meals are a convenient choice for those who don’t like to cook, but still want to eat nutritious meals without ordering takeout. Buying ready-to-eat meals may also expose you to different foods you might not otherwise cook at home. This helps to give you a variety of nutrients as well as keep food fun and interesting. Finally, ready-to-eat meals can help simplify your grocery shopping. Rather than having to purchase many ingredients for one recipe, you can buy a few ready-to-eat options for the week and take some of the meal planning out of the equation.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Meyer-Ficca M, Kirkland JB. Niacin. Adv Nutr. 2016 May 16;7(3):556-8. doi: 10.3945/an.115.011239. PMID: 27184282; PMCID: PMC4863271.

  2. Bouzari A, Holstege D, Barrett DM. Vitamin retention in eight fruits and vegetables: a comparison of refrigerated and frozen storageJ Agric Food Chem. 2015;63(3):957-962. doi:10.1021/jf5058793

By Rebecca Jaspan, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES
Rebecca Jaspan is a registered dietitian specializing in anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, as well as disordered eating and orthorexia.