When you don’t have a kitchen, microwave or fridge, there are still healthy food options to make meals that are delicious. Start with shopping for shelf-stable foods that you love to eat. You can stock up on bread, nut butters, jelly, oatmeal, dried fruit, almonds, apples, pears, avocados, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and salt. Citrus fruits hang on for several days at room temperature. Look for packaged goods that are neither too pricy nor too unhealthful, like wholegrain crackers or granola.
Even foods that don’t need refrigeration won’t last forever, though. Don’t be tempted to stock up on ingredients to last more than two weeks. Rather, shop as you need or crave. “Buy” smaller quantities at the dining hall or supermarket bulk bin.
Find a large box or basket, maybe with a lid, and call it your kitchen cabinet. Keep all your food and equipment there so bread never goes moldy. Keep most of your equipment in here too.
A collection of sealable baggies, plastic wrap, and binder clips will help to keep packages closed, and make food last longer. For prepping and eating, get two sets of silverware, two plates, a roll of paper towels, a cutting board, a can opener, and a small, sharp knife. For cleanup, a plastic tub, a sponge, and soap should do. If you want to cook with heat, consider getting a rice cooker, electric pressure cooker, toaster oven, or electric water kettle.
When it comes to meals, think assemble, don’t cook. Classic no-cook meals start at sandwiches (canned tuna is shelf-stable before opening, and you can find hummus and cheese in one-time-use packets), progress through bean salads (canned beans, olive oil, and lemon, plus an herb or spice) and top out at gazpacho (made with tomato juice, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions) or overnight oats (combine water and oatmeal the night before; in the morning, bulk up your bowl with nut butters, dried fruit, and honey).
For snacking think outside the prepackaged energy bars or chips. Season half a pitted avocado with lemon juice and salt for a healthy but filling afternoon snack. Combine pretzels, cheese crackers, and peanuts for your own snack mix. Top individual nori slices with Sriracha. Mash up oats, honey, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and salt until you have a cookie-dough-like consistency you can roll into energy balls.
Whether you don’t want to turn on the oven, have a temporary living situation or are a student living in a dorm, there are endless options to no – cook meals.