Lazy Japanese Meal plan

This is a weekly menu for someone who: 

  1. Doesn't like to cook 
  2. Wants to eat somewhat healthy 
  3. Enjoys Japanese inspired dishes 
  4. Needs recipes for cooking for 1-2 people. 

This is a big part of my month, so these are some of my favorite lazy-chef recipes compiled in the process. I eat using intermittent fasting, so you’ll see that only 2 meals are actually ‘made’ with a snack between. Please read this all the way through, as these recipes are oftentimes able to be adjusted, pre-cooked and set up for success so even if you don’t enjoy leftovers and want fresh food each day you can make that happen with some prep work ahead of time (like choosing your fresh vs frozen veggies and chopping them up so they are ready to be cooked with.) 

  • Mini rice cooker -- This is, to me, an essential lazy-chef item. This is a personal item all-in-one device that cooks a perfect meal for 1, and even 2 sometimes. Any cheapy thrift store 1.5 cup rice cooker will work. Mine is wolfgang puck one I got for $3. Keep in mind--these are cheap! To avoid burning the rice, add a bit more water than normal (I do 1/4th cup of rice and ½ cup + a splash of water) and spray the inner area with oil. These will settle down well, but you really want to eat them soon after they are done cooking. I bought 2 with one of the machines broken just to get the other machine’s cooking bowl and spoon. Anyways, when cooking, this guy is what I use for breakfast. Dump ingredients in, do something for 30-40 minutes, come back to hot breakfast. 
  • Large rice cooker -- For meal prep, large rice cookers are the bomb. They reheat meals right in them and they cook things well the first time which is important if you’re making a large batch of cold rice to use later as fried rice or just want a bowl to heat up for breakfast. I use an older model zojirushi, and I highly recommend the brand. While I use two rice cookers it is because I eat rice on a daily basis. You might want to adjust to your eating style. 
  • Microwave. Seriously, does any lazy chef lack this wonderful item? 
  • Electric kettle. Very easy and quick to use, this cheap item pays for itself in no time. Fresh green tea and hot miso soup in the morning is easily accomplished with this. 
  • Onigiri mold. I’ll tell you exactly which one I use below, but these make onigiri a very lazy process. 

Rice, fish (or protein of choice), fruit, pickles, and soup. Doesn’t get more stereotypically Japanese than that. 
The protein and rice: 1/4th cup rice of choice in a mini rice cooker with the appropriate amount of water, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin, a handful of frozen spinach, and a small frozen tuna filet on top. Sprinkle the filet with spices of your choice and hit the cook button.  
To change this up from fish, use: 

  • shrimp marinated with lime and cilantro 
  • leftover shredded chicken mixed with some soy sauce, wasabi, and yogurt to make a lovely creamy sauce to serve on top of the rice. 
  • crack an egg into the rice after it is done cooking, give it a good stir, and leave the rice on the warm-setting for another 3-4 minutes to cook the egg through. (If you have farm-fresh eggs you can usually skip this step and eat it purely based on the hot rice cooking it which is a very Japanese way to eat.) 
  • Mushrooms and/or a wider variety of frozen mixed vegetables in the rice before cooking with small bite-sized pieces of tofu added at the end--leave on the warm setting for 5-10 minutes longer for the tofu to warm up. 
  • Sauce. Seriously, making a different kind of sauce like a katsu sauce or even a dressing will add some flavor profiles. I have definitely branched outside of Japanese condiments before and done a lime/cilantro/hot sauce combo, or added a healthy yogurt chipotle ranch dressing to a dish before.

The benefits of these proteins are that they can be frozen in small individual servings in advance and popped right into the rice cooker, so most of the meal-prep is done for you. Just dump ingredients in, press cook, and you’re good. 
Miso soup: You can buy dried mixes of miso soup with the paste ready to go, but I find it healthier to make your own. Either is fine here, but a homemade but lazy miso soup first thing in the morning: mushrooms, green onion, dried wakame seaweed, ½ tsp instant bonito broth, and miso paste is all divvied up into small tupperwares in the fridge that can handle boiled water. I add a bit of lime crystals to mine as well. I set one on the counter while the rice is cooking and let the bowls/ingredients warm up a while. When the rice is done, boil water in an electric kettle and pour half the water intended in, stirring, dissolving the miso paste, and warming everything up, then pour the rest in. 
Piece of fruit of your choice: I usually go for grapefruit, banana, or applesauce. 
Pickled daikon, a piece of pickled plum in the rice, or seaweed salad to serve. 
Green tea, and water. 
(For busy days, I have packets of oatmeal ready to go, but if I’m not in a rush this is a standard breakfast.) 
I use a couple different snacks: 

  • Toast and eggs 
  • Onigiri 
  • Ploughman platters 

Toast and eggs: A simple breakfast, the Japanese served this quite commonly when I was there, and it hits the spot when you want something lightweight and harkening back to a more American palette. This is a simple thing I can have on hand throughout the month, and my go-to snack when I’m at the house. 
Toast: 1 piece of toast and add a spread of choice whether it be jam, butter, avocado, etc. 
Eggs: 1-2 eggs hardboiled, and served warm or cold with Mrs. Dash spices or salt/pepper mixture. 
Green tea served on the side. I usually serve either some veggies or pickles too. 
Onigiri: These are SO easy to make in advance. I wait to wrap mine in nori until the last minute, but done right, these last all week in the fridge. I use this mold which makes them easy to fill: and is easier to use and clean than the cheap white molds you will see. I usually use shredded and chilled chicken or thawed cooked cocktail shrimp chopped up mixed with various veggies I have on hand like bits of onion leftover and cucumbers or homemade pickles, or even leftover seaweed salad. I mix the rice with green onion and cilantro and furikake to give it a punch of flavor. Serve with tea and water. Other than the hot-pot and curry dish, this is the best way to use up leftover bits of food. When I know my week is going to be busy, I will make an onigiri for each of those days.. Sometimes two. 
Ploughman platters: Not strictly Japanese, but dressed slightly differently they look just like snack-sized bento boxes. Pick 1-2 bite-sized veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, 1-2 pieces of protein such as chopped up dried meats and cheeses, or a serving of tuna salad, and some crackers of choice. If you’re going to be stuck in a meeting, or a doctor’s appointment, this is an easy thing to take along with you. 
Dinners have the widest variety for me. While breakfast is sometimes substituted with a simple oatmeal dish, or a snack can be skipped when I’m not hungry, dinner is a big deal and the focus of my cooking. Still, lazy is best, and I often use the recipe for breakfast with the rice-and-fish as a dinner especially if I used an egg instead for breakfast, and simply adding a wider variety of vegetables. I will pick 2 of these recipes and eat them 2-3 nights a week. While this isn’t ALL the recipes I ever use, these 4 serve to be my main staples and ones I revisit week after week along with the aforementioned breakfast-go-to. 
I serve all of these with a simple side salad of greens and dressing or premade bagged salads. 
Dinners I typically make: 

  • Baked Katsu 
  • Fried rice and chicken skewers 
  • Curry 
  • Hot Pot with noodles 

Baked Katsu: I use just one cookbook’s recipe. No oil, no fuss. I get extra lazy by buying my chicken super thin--this is typically found in Hispanic meat markets, usually called enchilada-style chicken or Bistec. This is chicken meat pre-sliced and that makes the recipe go even faster. I also sometimes don’t bother to toast the panko. It is easy to do, but in a rush or just feeling lazy, this really only adds color to the panko. You can get by with spritzing olive oil on the panko after it’s coated the chicken. Serve with shredded cabbage (hint: this is cheap/easy to do yourself with a ‘slicing’ blade on your food processor, but you can also just buy coleslaw mix!) rice of choice cooked with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. You can cook these in batches and reheat and serve the next day, though they won’t be quite as good. 
Fried rice and Chicken skewers: I use this man’s recipe for the fried rice and the chicken skewers mostly. It is so easy to do with the microwave. The only difference is I usually skewer lots of the chicken all at once, throw it in a marinade, and bake them in a large batch so I only need to heat them up later when I make the rice itself. The fried rice base can be pre-made and divvied up into individual servings, and so can the sauce! Just warm up the rice/veggies first, then throw in the sauce and stir, and continue to follow the directions on the video. Meal prepping this way, everything is made within 6-7 minutes. A large rice cooker will do all the thinking for you on the initial prep of the rice and veggies too. 
Curry: Too easy! Buy frozen mixed veggies and a lot of them, or chop up some of your own too. Take the frozen veggies and steam them in the microwave and dump them onto a towel or paper towels to drain while you cook. Brown meat of choice (hint: anything goes in curry! Ground beef, chicken, sausage (weird one but I like it), tofu, shrimp… it really doesn’t matter. My favorite is chicken of course) with onion until cooked through. While meat/onions are cooking, boil some water and add your curry paste into a bowl (I use the typical golden curry you see in any asian grocery) and add 1 cup boiled water and stir it around to dissolve the curry paste. To the meat, add garlic and veggies. Warm everything up together, and then add the dissolved curry + the amount of water leftover that’s needed per the directions. Stir everything around until the curry sauce thickens, then serve over rice. (Hint: you can also combine the chicken katsu recipe and this one! Just do veggies with no protein, and serve with a piece of reheated chicken katsu on the plate with the rice so the curry sauce is poured over it.) 
Hot Pot with noodles: An easy dish that uses up whatever veggies you had leftover. Mushrooms, greens, items like green onion and cilantro, shredded chicken or leftover frozen shrimp/fish, whatever needs to be eaten down still, this is the recipe that cleans it all up. Make a broth of your choice: a simple kombu, instant bonito, miso, soy-sauce based, or use your frugal leftover-veggies veggie broth! Add in veggies and protein depending on what needs cooking through--raw carrots and cabbage and onion will need time, whereas greens and cooked protein like chicken simply need reheating or wilting. Drop in a single serving of noodles (or rice!), and enjoy. While true hot-pot has a nice balance and lovely look to it, this leftover clean-up dish tastes amazing and is a healthy, welcoming alternative to casseroles and stir-fries. Serve with pickles such as pickled ginger or daikon, and top with sauces of choice. I recommend a Pho-style with hoisin and sriracha. 
I personally did not include stir-fry because it is fairly ubiquitous and I wanted to give something a shade different here. Plus, I personally find myself not wanting to cook it often as each item needing to be individually cooked isn’t fun to me, and frozen veggies don’t work quite as well with stir-fry. For someone cooking for 1 most of the time, frozen items are your friend as they don’t go bad quickly and can be broken up into individual servings really well. 

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