3 Simple 5-Ingredient Meals

These meals are simple, healthy, and best of all, you can change them up any way you want to.


By Heather Caplan, R.D.


I have a few cookbooks I love, but I consider them full of inspiration instead of rules to follow. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve followed a recipe in this calendar year! I do enjoy the process of cooking, but don’t enjoy hunting down specific spices and ingredients I’ll only use once, or cleaning more than a few pans, or spending more than 30-45 minutes putting something together! I like simplicity. I like to enjoy fresh foods without a lot of hassle. 

At least 90% of the meals cooked in my kitchen have less than 10 ingredients, and some even less than 5. If you’re always looking for something simple but healthy, you’ve come to the right place! Take any of the following meals and substitute your favorite seasonal vegetables, go-to proteins (I only eat fish), and even your favorite spices if these don’t sound so good. 

Without further ado, here are 3 templates for simple 5-ingredient meals. The measurements suggested will make enough for 3-4 servings. 



  • 1 cup dried grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc) 
  • 3-4 cups chopped vegetables (peppers, onions, asparagus, broccoli, etc.) 
  • 8-12 oz of protein (fish, tofu, poultry, or beef), cut into 1” cubes. 
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (alternative options: olive oil or sesame oil) 
  • Spices to taste: salt/pepper, cayenne, curry, cumin, and/or turmeric. 


  1. Cook grains as package directs (quinoa and rice are generally 2 cups of water for 1 cup of dried grain). 
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium. Add in the vegetables, then protein(s), and spices. Stir-fry until proteins are cooked all the way through. 
  3. Bonus: add sesame or pumpkin seeds for crunch! 



  • 8-10 organic eggs, mixed in a bowl (beat with a whisk or fork) 
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 2 cups chopped vegetables (onion, asparagus, and red peppers are my favorites) 
  • Salt/pepper + seasoning of choice (e.g. garlic) 
  • Optional: additional protein (crumbled sausage, chopped bacon, or diced ham), shredded cheese, whole cream mixed in with the eggs for added texture.


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. 
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a deep oven-safe saute pan. Add onions and garlic; cook until onions are translucent. 
  3. Mix in additional vegetables and proteins. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables soften and proteins are cooked through. 
  4. Pour egg mixture into the pan and let it sit, scraping the edges every 30-45 seconds to prevent burning, for 5-6 minutes. Add in cheese. 
  5. Put saute pan in the oven to finish cooking the whole mix (this usually takes an additional 5-8 minutes). Check often to prevent burning. 

Taco Bar 


  • 3 cups protein of choice (crumbled tempeh, ground beef/turkey, or beans) 
  • 12 taco shells (or corn tortillas) 
  • 1 cup sliced peppers and onions 
  • 1 tbsp. olive or coconut oil 
  • Spices to taste (cayenne, cumin, paprika, salt/pepper, jalapenos, green chiles, etc.) 
  • Bonus: salsa and/or sliced avocado to top it off! 


  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a pan and saute the onions and peppers. In a separate pan, saute the protein (an additional 1/2 - 1 tbsp of oil could be used if needed). 
  2. Once everything is ready, place in serving bowls and let everyone make their own taco! 

Rotate through these simple recipes, making a little extra so you can save one night of cooking or have a few days of packed lunches. Add in seasonally available produce to have some variety of flavors and textures, and modify as needed to fit any dietary preferences. Enjoy! 

Heather Caplan is a registered dietitian and running coach based out of the San Jose, CA area. She’s usually training for a marathon, traveling, teaching or practicing yoga – or all of the above! You can find her life anecdotes or work with her over at

Main Photo Credit: Dragon Images/ and Second Photo Credit: cobraphotography/