dinner when you just don’t feel like cooking

Posted on January 4, 2012


Some days, I am just not in the mood to cook or even think about what I’m going to have for dinner. I’m secretly wishing one of my friends will call to invite me over for dinner or see if I want to go out for a bite to eat…

Most of the time, I resort to a couple of my stand-by recipes. There’s one in particular that I use a lot that has ingredients almost always in my pantry/freezer/fridge. This recipe meets all of my “criteria” for a healthy dinner – lots of vegetables, good source of lean protein, and tastes good. It can also easily be modified depending on your dietary habits or what happens to be in your kitchen that night {see below for variations}. It’s also great as leftovers; I like to make extra because it is really good the next day.

This is also a budget recipe. The total cost for this meal is less than $3 (including every ingredient) for the entire thing. Beat that for a cheap meal 🙂

It’s filled with veggies, making it that much easier to meet your healthy goal #1 to eat more vegetables and fruit! Keep trying to eat one extra fruit and one extra vegetable every day this week.

The only problem with this meal is that it’s not very photogenic…

Balsamic Chickpeas & Spinach

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups raw spinach
  • ¼ tsp salt-free seasoning, such as The Delicious Dietitian Creole Spice Blend
  • ¼ tsp lemon pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and well-rinsed
  • 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 7-10 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic to the pan, and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Add 2 cups of spinach to the pan. Stir spinach into the onions, allowing it to wilt. Add the remaining 3 cups to the pan, and stir until all of the spinach has wilted. Season with salt-free seasoning, lemon pepper, and salt. Add in the chickpeas and stir to combine everything together. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir well. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Top with Parmesan cheese.

*This meal has about 2 veggies per serving.


  • You can top this with bacon -> yum! Or toss in any leftover cooked meats after you add the spinach.
  • Add any leftover roasted vegetables right before you add the spinach.
  • Use different vinegar to change the flavor a little.
  • You can use any type of green, leafy vegetable if you don’t have spinach. Kale is great in this recipe!
    • You can also use frozen spinach. Just make sure you defrost and drain the spinach before using.
    • Canned spinach will also work. Use the no-salt-added kind, and drain before using.
  • If you’re following a vegan diet, you can use nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan cheese. Actually, I use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan most of the time I make it. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast, you should. It has a great cheesy, nutty taste, and it’s also filled with vitamins & protein.
  • This is a gluten-free meal. Just make sure to read labels to ensure that your food isn’t produced in a plant that processes wheat.
  • To decrease the amount of sodium {or salt} in this meal: replace canned chickpeas with dried chickpeas that you cook yourself (without added salt, of course).

Here is my version. Today I added nutritional yeast and Parmesan; I wanted cheesy. For the spices, I used The Delicious Dietitian Italian Mediterranean Blend and lemon pepper. It looks so lovely basking in the sun, doesn’t it?

Keep eating an extra fruit and an extra veggie everyday!


Posted in: Recipes