A white woman in a wheelchair preparing food in the kitchen to represent the topic of the article - Depression Meals: Simple Recipes To Cook When Lacking Motivation - Unwanted Life

Depression Meals: Simple Meals To Cook When Lacking Motivation

There are several debilitating symptoms that come with depression, and a loss of appetite or emotional eating is one of them. But those aren’t the symptoms we’re here to discuss today. Today we’re focusing on the symptom: Concentration. As I said in my previous article while taking about antidepressants, concentration doesn’t refer to daydreaming. What it actually refers to is your ability to access your motivation to do anything. Which, if you’re like me, means you’re not motivated to cook (Everyday Health). Thus, I put together some simple depression meals to cook if you’re struggling with your motivation.


One of the reasons I don’t cook is because I lack motivation and have little interest in food. However, my reactive hypoglycaemia means I have to eat. As such, I don’t want to waste time cooking and buying ingredients that’ll go out of date in my fridge before I use them. Thus, recipes that are simple, and that can be made with frozen or other long-shelf-life items are what I need and what this article is all about. These super simple depression meals will allow you to minimise waste and improve your access to good food.



Depression Meals


Super Simple Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili – Vegan And Gluten-Free


This recipe is enough to feed six people, so you can either adjust the amounts or stick to the recipe and freeze the extra to save cooking later on. The recipe below comes courtesy of the Minimalist Baker.


Basic ingredients

  • Frozen chopped onions.
  • A can of black beans.
  • Frozen diced sweet potatoes.
  • Veggie Stock.
  • Salsa (chunky).
  • Oil.
  • Rice or microwave pouch rice.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.



  • 170g of onions.
  • 500g of diced sweet potatoes.
  • Approximately one 454g jar of chunky salsa.
  • Approximately one 425g can of black beans – salted is best, but if unsalted, just add salt to taste.
  • 480ml vegetable stock.
  • 480ml water.



  • 3 teaspoons chilli powder.
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder.
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce.



  • Using a large pot on a medium heat, caramelise the onions in 1 tablespoon oil and season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper. Then stir and continue cooking on medium heat until the onions are translucent and soft.
  • Add the sweet potato and any desired spices from the optional spices list. Cook for 3 minutes. Then add salsa, water, and vegetable stock.
  • Bring mixture to a low boil on medium-high heat and then lower heat to medium-low and simmer.
  • Add black beans, cover and cook for at least 20-30 minutes – or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender and the soup has thickened (the soup is best when prepared the night before or allowed to rest for a few hours, but you can skip this part).
  • Serve with normally cooked rice, frozen rice, microwaved pouch rice, or your preferred rice alternative like cauliflower rice.
  • Freeze the extra.




Super Basic Nachos – Vegetarian


This one is super easy, and you can easily go as big or small as you want here. Just remember that pre-bought salsa and guacamole are your friends. As is pre-grated cheese when cooking depression meals. The Metro was kind enough to provide this recipe suggestion.


Basic ingredients

  • Bag of nachos.
  • Salsa.
  • Guacamole.
  • Grated cheese.
  • Refried beans.



  • As much or as little as you want of everything.



  • Lay your nachos out and then put your other ingredients on top.
  • Stick it all under the grill.
  • Job done.


The picture is split in two with the top image being of a white person pulling apart a cheese toasty and the bottom image being of a black woman and her son cooking. The two images are separated by the article title - Depression Meals Simple Recipes To Cook When Lacking Motivation - Unwanted Life


Unwanted Life’s Nachos


This is one of my super basic meals I’ve often cooked when I can’t be bothered or when I’ve been lacking funds as a student. So this recipe is my personal, simple nacho meal I like to make with a curry sauce I like.


Basic ingredients

  • Your favourite curry sauce or other cooking sauce – you can do this with a pasta sauce instead and add some grated cheese on top.
  • Frozen mince meat – to make this recipe vegetarian, use Quorn meat or another meat alternative.
  • Frozen chopped onions.
  • Nachos – Doritos Chilli Heatwave.



  • Cook the minced meat in a pan with the onions on a medium heat until brown (about 15 minutes in a pan).
  • Add the sauce and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the nachos on a plate.
  • Then spoon out the sauce over the nachos.
  • Job done.


Microwave 4-minute BBQ Chicken Nachos


This is a simple microwave depression meal that can serve two, courtesy of Tasty.


Basic ingredients

  • Precooked rotisserie chicken, frozen or fresh.
  • BBQ sauce.
  • Nachos.
  • Pico de gallo – salsa.
  • Cheddar cheese.
  • Frozen chopped onions.
  • Guacamole.
  • Sour cream.



  • 125g of rotisserie chicken, shredded.
  • 3 tablespoons of BBQ sauce
  • 2 large handfuls of nachos.
  • 60g pico de gallo – salsa.
  • 100g of shredded cheddar cheese.
  • 35g of frozen onions.
  • Guacamole and sour cream to serve.



  • Mix the chicken with the barbecue sauce, then spread evenly over a bed of nachos.
  • Spread the pico de gallo (salsa), cheese, and onions evenly on top.
  • Microwave the lot for about 1-3 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  • Add a generous serving of guacamole and sour cream to taste.
  • Job done, time to eat.




Two Minutes Scrambled Eggs – Vegetarian


This is another simple microwave depression meal. Most people aren’t weird like me and drink tea and coffee, thus you’ll already have milk in the fridge. So this recipe is for those people, courtesy of Home Is Where The Cookies Are.


Basic ingredients

  • Eggs.
  • Milk.
  • Cheese.
  • Salt, pepper, and any other herbs you want to use.
  • Cooking Spray.



  • 2 eggs.
  • 2 tablespoons milk.
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheese.
  • Salt, pepper, and any other herbs you want to use.



  • Coat a microwave-safe coffee mug or other dish with cooking spray.
  • Add the eggs and milk into the mug and beat till blended.
  • Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds; stir.
  • Microwave again until eggs are almost set – 30-45 seconds longer.
  • Top with cheese and season with salt, pepper, and herbs.




Pan-fried Camembert Sandwich – Vegetarian


Who doesn’t love a cheese toasty? If you do, then this is the recipe for you, courtesy of the BBC Good Food.


Basic ingredients

  • Bread.
  • Camembert, brie, or any cheese you like.
  • Cranberry sauce.
  • Butter.



  • Balsamic vinegar.



  • 2 thick slices of bread – keep bread in the freezer to prolong life.
  • Approximately 85g of Camembert or whatever cheese you picked.
  • A spoonful of cranberry sauce.
  • A few drops of balsamic vinegar.
  • A few knife spreads of butter.



  • Butter the bread.
  • Put your choice of cheese on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread.
  • Top the cheese with a spoonful of cranberry sauce and drizzle with a few drops of the optional balsamic vinegar.
  • Put the second slice of bread on top, buttered side out, so both outsides of the bread are the buttered sides.
  • Fry in a hot non-stick pan, pressing down with a spatula (fish slice), for a minute or two on each side until golden brown and melting.
  • Cut in half and eat straight away.




Easy Pesto Pasta – Vegetarian


This is another super easy-to-make depression meal inspired by the BBC Good Food.


Basic ingredients

  • Spaghetti.
  • Pesto from a jar.
  • Parmesan or preferred cheese.



  • Buy a jar of sundried tomatoes to add to the dish. Don’t empty the oil out of the jar so the remaining sundried tomatoes can last awhile in the fridge.



  • 500g pack spaghetti.
  • 2-3 tablespoons of pesto.
  • 50g of grated cheese.



  • Boil spaghetti in a large pan according to pack instructions. Once cooked, drain well.
  • Return the spaghetti to the pan with the pesto and half the cheese and toss well. Add the optional sundried tomatoes.
  • Tip into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Job done.


If you have any recipe suggestions for other depression meals, please let me know in the comment box below. Also, most of these recipes don’t require a lot of accuracy for the amounts, so just add the amounts you want.


Happy eating.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with depression meals and cooking with depression in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, you can make a donation of any size below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.





92 thoughts on “Depression Meals: Simple Meals To Cook When Lacking Motivation

  1. I deal with depression (highly functional type; no meds) and I didn’t realize that the lack of motivation to cook was linked to my depression. I assumed that I didn’t enjoy cooking so I almost always made simple meals. This makes total sense as to why I opt for simple meals if I manage to cook anything. I have made the majority of the recipes on your list, including the chili and cheese sandwich (different ingredients but same types of meals). Another easy recipe I sometimes make is soup if I have the ingredients. Potato bacon soup is one of my favorites, and it’s very filling. Tbh a lot of canned soups are yucky to me which is why I prefer homemade soup.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes. I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to this blog post. Depression is more common than people think.

  2. I’ve realized that when I’m depressed I lack the motivation to cook or even prepare food. When I’m in a better mood I do tend to cook slightly more. These are great recipes and I’ll keep them in mind for the next time I’m feeling down.

  3. This is a great post! I tend to lack motivation to cook when I’m really busy and tired or feeling ill due to chronic illness. Pesto pasta is my go to meal!
    Another one I do is a tin of tuna, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of sweetcorn (this does 2 servings) into a pot and heat up. And put on top of pasta woth cheese. Quick and easy! Obviously you’d want to like tuna for that one.

  4. This was a very good post. I do agree eating things that you enjoy when you are feeling low can bring comfort you, especially easier recipes. I appreciated that you wrote about this. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie

  5. You’ve shared some amazing recipes which I’ll defiantly be making myself! This post will really come in handy when people are feeling low & unmotivated. Thank you so much for sharing Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  6. Thankfully, I have not suffered from depression for a little while but as a new mother, I find it hard to be motivated to cook. I’m always so exhausted! These are great recipes and I would love to try the pesto pasta and the sweet potato black bean chili. Sounds delish! Thank you for sharing.

      • I have always some frozen veggies mixes in my freezer for times I don’t want to cook or don’t have time for that. Mostly I turn them into a soup – for a 400gr mix about 1 liter water-stock mix (I use 2 stock cubes per 1 liter water, but just chose your favorite), veggie mix and boil until soft. Sometimes I add some dumplings or pasta for making it more filling.

        Will try that chilli!

        • My partner likes making soups, but I’ve never tried. I don’t have a mixer, and the thought of cleaning one afterwards is a little off-putting too. Maybe one day I’ll try

          • I am a bit lost now. Only things needed for these soups are a pot to boil in and bowl to eat from. Why you would need a mixer? At least here the frozen veggies are already sliced and chopped so not even a knife is needed.

            Ps. Easiest way to clean mixer is to put a little water and dishsoap in to a bowl, turn mixer on and rinse after. Same goes to blender

  7. I also love nachos as a low effort meal when I’m struggling with motivation. Depression makes me want to eat crap constantly but I don’t have the desire to actually put a meal together. Sometimes I do the chilli/cheese combo on top of oven chips instead of nachos which is a teeny bit more effort but still delicious.

  8. This is such a great article for so many reasons. Really great recipes for when your energy and mental health are down but you need to feed yourself. Sometimes we can just resort to not eating at all or getting take out, which ends up super expensive. The pasta one has always been my go-to whenever I have absolutely no energy or can’t put any effort into cooking.

    • Yeah, I often decided to skip eating before my reactive hypoglycaemia developed or when I’m having a good day with the symptoms. However, that means I often bribe myself to eat by eating junk food instead. Depression really sucks the life out of you

  9. These are such useful ideas, I’m definitely going to try the nachos that sounds so good – as well as super quick and easy!

  10. Thank you for sharing, this is what I struggle with when I’m feeling down or tired or not motivated- my healthy eating goes out of the window! This is super helpful for me, even though I don’t struggle with depression I can still relate to this

  11. Quick and easy recipes are such a great thing to have on hand. I can see them being good for when you’re feeling unmotivated or even for people with busy lives. I make it a practice to have a frozen, fully cooked, rotisserie chicken in the freezer for a quick meal. That and a dozen eggs will take you so far. An even better addition would be a personal chef… or is that just me.


  12. Oo, love this creative list of simple and quick meal ideas! I also love that you do your best to utilize items that do not spoil quickly for these cooks; your nachos with curry sauce sound delicious and I’d eat your sandwich suggestion any day. 🙂

  13. Only if you want puree soup, but then you should use less water or it will be to runny. I don’t really like puree soups. And I think mixing potatos-carrots-peas etc would be really unappetizing color

  14. what a great idea. it can be hard to find the motivation to cook something when you are feeling down in the dumps. and I think many people think that cooking something good & comforting and substantial takes too long.. but that is far from the truth. you can make something that is pleasing & comforting in as little as five minutes. My favorite kind of comfort meal is probably ramen noodles which doesn’t take long to make at all..

  15. Good post. Easy to make comfort foods can really improve your mood. I like making cheese on toast when I’m feeling down

  16. I love simple yet easy meals because I work SO much! But I’m all about meals that are quick and easy as opposed to fast food. I hate it but mainly, I’m just always tired!

  17. As someone who is drowning in depression at the moment these recipes were very helpful and sound delicious yet easy to make.

  18. Will bookmark this page for later! Especially love the nachos! I’m not depressed, but I don’t enjoy cooking, so easy recipes are best for me as well.

  19. Some good meals here! I recently bought some micro meals, as I’ve hurt my back, so that I can get a meal quickly, I think there needs to be a balance between quick and nutritious, which you have covered here x

  20. Ah, Thank you! I’m lucky enough to still live with my parents, so most time they do the food for all of us ? However, I lack the motivation when i’m alone.. i’ll feel hungry but just erh- don’t wanna do it. It seems crazy, but I actually forgot eggs is a good solution, for basically anytime! Do an egg and throw it on toasts, you’re good to go.

  21. These seem easy and tasty…much better than my go-to dinner of cottage cheese and salsa with chips. I don’t even own a toaster. ? Thanks for sharing!

    • Not a combination I’ve come across before, but if you like it, then that’s all that matters. But being able to mix it up a few times will give you some variety

  22. I don’t really have depression, but the lack of motivation to cook is real, and for these moments, I have steel-cut oats prepped in the fridge. Whenever I need a nutritious meal, I just take them out, put in some bananas and blueberries, and voila, a healthy meal with the least effort. Great suggestions in this post!

  23. The first meal sounds amazing. Cooking seems tough when you feel down because food simply seems of little importance. I always lose my appetite the moment I feel super depressed. Whipping up easy to prep, quick meals works when my appetite returns. Thanks for sharing with us.


    • Indeed, cooking isn’t important, but at the same time you often want to eat your feelings away, so you just indulge in junk food if you don’t have super easy options to fall back on

  24. Thank you for sharing these recipes! There are definitely days when I have no motivation to do anything so I’ll try making nachos or the pesto pasta then. Also I’ve never cooked eggs in the microwave so I’ll have to try that too.

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