There are nights when you’ve got time to make a masterfully crafted meal, like homemade pizza loaded with herbs and veggies. And other times, you end up having popcorn for dinner at 9 p.m. (No judgment.)
Take comfort in this: Everyone has days when they get home hungry, but are too tired to deal with making something to eat. Heck, that’s why takeout was invented—but then you’re stuck waiting for the delivery guy.
Here, six foodies, from respected chefs to execs at buzzy health food brands, share what they do when confronted with the late-night munchies. These are people who have made careers out of eating healthy—they aren’t willing to sacrifice taste or nutritional value—but they’re too busy to spend hours in the kitchen after work. Their kitchen hacks prove it is possible to make a satisfying dinner with minimal effort, and in less time than it takes to scroll through Seamless or hit the drive-through.
Check out what healthy food pros have for dinner when they can’t be bothered to cook.
Debbie Shandel, executive vice president of food brand Carrington Farms, has two kids, including a 14-year-old hockey-playing son, so having a protein-packed dinner on the table is a must. “On busy nights, I put salmon with ghee in the broiler,” she says. (Insider tip: Ghee ups the amount of healthy fats.) The salmon only needs to cook for 10 to 15 minutes—the perfect amount of time to whip up a side salad, rounding out the meal.
Veggie burger salad
You’d think being the CEO of Justin’s would mean lots of almond-butter sandwiches for dinner. While Justin Gold definitely gets his fill, he also makes sure to load up on greens—no matter how late he gets home. “I’ll throw together whatever vegetables are in my fridge and heat up a veggie patty to sprinkle on top,” Gold says. (So does that mean he still has peanut-butter cups for dessert?)
If you’re not getting home until super late, it’s important to give your body something easy to digest so you aren’t up half the night listening to your stomach churn. Smoothies are a safe bet, but that just won’t cut it for Good Zebra Spirit Animal Crackers founder Erika Szychowski—she wants something she can dig a spoon into.
“I put blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, and ice into a blender and pulse, so it turns into a slushie, not all the way blended,” she says. “Then, I put it in a bowl.” Make it even heartier by sprinkling some granola or pumpkin seeds on top and you have yourself a pretty sweet dinner—literally.
As the author of a slew of vegan cookbooks and owner of two restaurants, Isa Chandra Moskowitz made a name for herself by crafting healthy, flavorful recipes. But even she isn’t above getting her dinner from a can.
“Chickpea salad is really easy to throw together,” she says. “It’s like tuna salad, but with chickpeas. Just mash them up, and add celery and scallions.” For even more nutritional oomph, serve your salad atop a bed of greens.
“Growing up near the Mediterranean, my favorite quick and easy dinner is tahini on bread, topped with tomato, olive oil, cumin, fresh lemon, and a bit of salt,” he says. Don’t have the sesame seed spread in your fridge? You can always sub in hummus instead.
Noodles and peanut sauce
Celeb chef and cookbook author Candice Kumai is a bit of a master when it comes to quick meals. “The best thing is noodles and sauce,” she says. “I have a simple peanut sauce recipe, then I toss some greens in, and that’s it.”
So what’s in her go-to topping? A touch of tahini, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and miso paste. It’s so good it just might become your favorite dinner recipe—even on nights when you have hours to kill.