Minimalist Cooking & 10 Simple, Healthy Weeknight Meals

Minimalism is quite the trendy word in 2016, and it got us thinking: what does minimalism mean when applied to the kitchen? In our latest podcast, we interview Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha, graphic designer and self-proclaimed “Minimalist”.

What is minimalist cooking? Melissa explains that to her, minimalism is:

  • Focusing on high-quality ingredients and simple flavoring (sometimes olive oil and kosher salt is all it needs!)
  • Cooking with pantry ingredients and sub-ing in vegetables you have onhand
  • Keeping kitchen gadgets to the bare minimum
  • Keeping the spice drawer tidy (like keeping your favorite 24 spices onhand)
  • Organizing the pantry with bulk ingredients in large, clear jars for easy access

Our interview with Melissa on the A Couple Cooks podcast is below; the show also features tips on designing a meal and inspiration for cleaning out your spice drawer (and don’t forget to listen for the blooper at the end!).

We’ve also included a list of ten healthy, simple minimalist weeknight meals from our website and Melissa’s for inspiration. As a note, we’ve read many articles claiming to have the best lists of weeknight meals that end up sounding completely un-doable; below are the top concepts of recipes we’ve actually successfully used on a weeknight.

Melissa Coleman and Sonja Overhiser | The Faux Martha & A Couple Cooks

Ten Healthy, Simple Minimalist Weeknight Meals

1. Pasta: Balsamic Pasta | The Faux Martha Pasta is quick cooking and therefore a great choice for weeknight eats. Try whole wheat pasta paired with some seasonal vegetables and greens. Here, a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette is used as the pasta sauce.

Balsamic Pasta | The Faux Martha

2. Soup: Tomato Artichoke Lentil Stew | A Couple Cooks Nourishing soups and stews are perfect for a weeknight, especially in cooler weather. This one is relatively quick cooking and uses several pantry ingredients like lentils, canned tomatoes, canned artichokes.

Tomato Artichoke Lentil Stew | A Couple Cooks

3. Stuff with a Fried Egg: Fried Eggs with Bulgur and Spinach | A Couple Cooks Putting an egg on top makes any meal better, right? We love sauteing up random fridge and pantry items and topping them off with a fried egg. In this recipe, we’ve added some bulgur wheat, a quick cooking grain that only requires some boiled water and 20 minutes of soak time (no cooking required!). 

Spinach with Bulgur and Fried Egg | A Couple Cooks

4. Noodle Bowls: Amazing Soba Bowl | The Faux Martha A bowl of soba noodles with fresh vegetables and peanut sauce is simple, colorful and comforting. This bowl uses frozen edamame and peanuts to keep it filling, and the peanut dressing is bursting with fresh flavor.

Amazing Soba Bowl | The Faux Martha

5. Quesadillas: Greek Quesadillas | A Couple Cooks Quesadillas are a perfect super simple dinner that can stay relatively healthy with minimal cheese and fresh ingredients. This version has a Mediterranean flair, with black olives, red peppers, and oregano. 

Greek Quesadillas | A Couple Cooks

6. Rice Bowls: Chickpea Indian Bowl | The Faux Martha “Stuff in bowls” is our way of life, and this Indian rice bowl is a stellar example, full of pantry spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and ginger. Rice bowls on the weekday may require white rice if you’re in a time crunch, but use brown rice if you think ahead.

Chickpea Indian Bowl | The Faux Martha

7. Fried Rice: Market Vegetable Fried Rice | A Couple Cooks Speaking of rice, the best way to use leftovers for a quick meal is stir-frying them with the leftover vegetables in the fridge and (you guessed it) some eggs. While this requires leftovers, it works with any cooked grain you have onhand.

Market Vegetable Fried Rice | A Couple Cooks

8. Fancy Sandwich: Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich | A Couple Cooks Sometimes just adding some fancy ingredients to a sandwich turns it into a delectable dinner. This sandwich uses hummus (or a white bean dip, made in advance) with red onion, carrots, feta cheese and some pea shoots we happened to have on hand to turn it into more than “just a sandwich”. 

Mediterranean Loaded Veggie Sandwich | A Couple Cooks

9. Curry: Cauliflower and Tomato Coconut Curry | A Couple Cooks This one-skillet meal involves a bit of chopping on the front end, but it cooks relatively quickly and is full of flavor, with a significant portion of the ingredient list being pantry spices. 

Tomato and Cauliflower Curry | A Couple Cooks

10. Pita Pizzas: Roasted Red Pepper Pita Pizzas | A Couple Cooks When we’re feeling minimalist, we turn to pita bread or naan for our pizza crusts. Use a canned tomato sauce and toppings of your choice to top your crust (be sure to pre-bake for a few minutes first to ensure a crispy base). Or, try the complex sauce in this recipe using the jarred red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes that might be lurking in your pantry.

Roasted Red Pepper Pita Pizzas | A Couple Cooks

Subscribe for free weekly recipes & more!

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 5:35 am

    This is a great list of recipes! Simple and easy is such a great way to approach January and healthy eating!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 8:18 am

    This list is great but I have to say, it is not only for weeknights, I will use it for lunch too!
    I always cook recipes inspired by your blog and I always get so many compliments at work about how my lunch food looks good.
    Thank you for your great blog- I love it and now my boyfriend doesn’t have a choice either, and we cook together, yay!
    Happy New Year to you both and greetings from Germany!

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Tatite — thank you so much — that means a lot! Glad to hear about you and your boyfriend cooking together – so fun! Thanks for the greetings — right back at you from the US!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    January 6, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Can’t wait to listen to this podcast! Thanks for a real list of doable weekday recipes. I can vouch for how quick to make and delicious that lentil artichoke stew is!

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you, Katie! it’s one of our faves. Hope you liked the podcast!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed listening to your podcast and I especially can’t wait to give this episode a listen.

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you so much, Allyson! We’re so glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    My boyfriend and I are in the midst of re-organizing our kitchen and learning more about minimalism. Definitely will keep the tips mentioned at the beginning in mind (thanks, Melissa!). :) Thanks for providing this list, those soba noodles look amazing!

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you thank you! How did the re-org go?!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Yum! You guys are life changers! ? Thank you from New Zealand !!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Would eat everything from here with a great pleasure!!!

    • Reply
      January 31, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you, Stacy!

  • Reply
    Michele Lian
    March 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Thank you so much for reaffirming way I’ve always suspected: that simplicity is the key to consistent healthy eating! And being a lover of pasta, rice, eggs and soba, these meals are right up my alley :)

    • Reply
      March 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Absolutely! So glad you enjoyed these meal ideas — let us know if you try any out!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.