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The no-cook diet: Get low-cal meals in minutes

TODAY Nutritionist and diet editor Joy Bauer shares healthy and delicious food plan options— with dessert!
/ Source: TODAY contributor

“Help! I don't cook, but I really want to eat better!” Sound familiar? If yes, you’ve found the perfect plan.

You don't have to slave in front of a stove for hours to enjoy a nutritious, low-calorie diet. Check out this NO-COOK Diet Plan that I created for SELF magazine, which features a week's worth of meals at 1,600 calories per day. Each dish takes minutes to prepare and requires virtually no cooking — as long as you can operate a toaster and a microwave, you're set. (Use all the time you save to do something else productive, like shopping for the smaller clothes you're going to need.)

Pick the menus you like, and make your own combinations. These are all healthy, delicious options — with no deprivation. This is real food, including dessert!

Each option contains approximately 300 calories; choose one each day. Note: Coffee and other drinks are not included unless otherwise noted. Calories of individual meal components are shown in case you would like to mix and match to make your own combinations.

Eggs, toast & fruit 1/2 cup Egg Beaters
2 tbsp reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 slice whole-wheat toast
1 tbsp I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Light spread
1/2 grapefruit

Waffles and veggie sausage
2 Kashi Go Lean Waffles, Original or Blueberry
2 tbsp Aunt Jemima Lite syrup
2 Morning Star Farms Veggie Breakfast Sausage Links

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
Combine the following ingredients in a blender until smooth:

1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 banana


Each meal has about 400 calories and enough protein to keep you full for hours; choose one per day.

Salad with grilled chicken and chickpeas 4 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup sliced onions
1/2 tomato, sliced
1 cup Perdue Short Cuts Grilled Chicken Breast
4 tbsp low-calorie dressing, such as Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed

Tuna, crackers & vegetable soup 6 oz can of light tuna packed in water, drained
1 tbsp reduced-fat mayo
7 Reduced Fat Triscuit crackers
1 cup Healthy Choice Country Vegetable soup

Peanut butter & jelly sandwich 2 slices whole-wheat bread
2 level tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp Smucker's Low Sugar strawberry preserves
1/2 cup baby carrots

Dinner Each is approximately 500 calories; choose one meal per day.

Veggie burger & tomato soup Boca burger
1 slice Kraft 2% Milk Singles, Sharp Cheddar cheese or American
1 Pepperidge Farm whole-wheat bun
2 tbsp ketchup
2 cups Campbell's 25% Less Sodium Tomato Soup
1 cup steamed frozen green beans

Pizza with side salad
Lean Cuisine Brick Oven Style Pizza
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1/2 tomato, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil

Supermarket sushi & miso soup
2 California rolls
1 cup miso soup
3/4 cup seaweed salad

SnacksChoose one roughly 200-calorie nibble per day.

Soy crisps & hummus
1.3-oz bag Glenny's Soy Crisps
2 tbsp hummus

Do-it-yourself trail mix
1 cup Kashi Heart to Heart cereal
2 tbsp raisins (plus small box of raisins)

Crackers & cheese
4 Ry Krisp crackers
2 The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss wedges

Dessert Each has 200 calories or fewer; have one per day

Ice cream
1 Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich on a plate.

Natural applesauce
1 cup or 2 small containers Mott's Natural Apple Sauce

Hot cocoa & cookies 1 cup Swiss Miss Diet Hot Cocoa made with water
1 Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs, Oreos

Joy Bauer is the author of “Food Cures.”

For more information on healthy eating, check out Joy’s Web site at .

For more weight loss information from Joy and Self, visit