A recent tweet from @WrittenByHanna asked, “what are your favorite depression meals? something easy and healthy/ish.” It was a question that people leapt to answer. Twitter users were quick to chime in with suggestions, but not everyone was on the same page.
Some replies suggested quick and simple dishes that could be thrown together in a few minutes, while others suggested hearty meals that take some amount of cooking skill. The OP, perhaps sensing that some users had lost the thread of the original question, followed up with another tweet: “I said easy and some of yall are listing four course meals.”
So, it seems like the OP’s preference is to focus on low-effort foods. When it comes to the concept of “depression meals,” the biggest question anyone will have to answer is this: What do you want this meal to accomplish for you? Are you looking for a meal with the capacity to improve your day in some small way, or do you simply need to eat something that takes the least amount of time and energy to get you fed?
The key to a low-effort depression meal is to minimize not only the prep time, but the cleanup as well. Anything that avoids the tasks of washing and chopping produce, for example, is a plus, not only because it saves you work but also saves you the annoyance of washing a cutting board and a knife.
One such meal comes from Takeout contributor Wil Williams, who provides three different go-to meals you can build around one can of black beans. Each meal is calibrated to a particular depression energy level; you can opt for something as simple as black beans dressed with sauce and spices, or instead choose to slice a few veggies with a box grater and add a hodgepodge of herbs to the beans.
Twitter’s replies were varied and useful. User @HeyAzJay suggested a piece of toast with tomato and cream cheese. Other users also recommended cheese toast, which we suggest pairing with instant ramen for added richness. Many other replies involved peanut butter sandwiches. In fact, toasts and sandwiches in general were a frequent theme among the depression meals, because you can’t go wrong if you just top a simple slice of bread with whatever will satisfy your hunger.
Similar to the strategy of Williams’ black bean survival meals, the other side of depression meals requires more work, but in the interest of overall well-being. Some people find cooking therapeutic, and for those people, a meal that nourishes them to the fullest might involve a few more steps.
On that end of the spectrum, users suggested stir fry, air fried salmon with rice and fried egg, roasted beetroot spaghetti with feta cheese, or halved cherry tomatoes sautéed with greens and eggs topped with salt, pepper, furikake, and sriracha. For meals like this, it’s more about knowing your favorite flavors and how much time you’re willing to spend making the food. Having the ingredients already stocked in your pantry certainly helps.
In the end, the depression meal is all about knowing what you need most—and it’s unlikely that the same few ideas will work for everyone. Still, it can be fun to share our best ideas with each other, because when so many people are struggling, it helps to know we can crowdsource our coping mechanisms.
(And hey, not everyone wants to cook a meal when they’re feeling depressed. If your go-to depression meal is a bowl of Cheez-Its and a can of LaCroix and that helps you through it, then it’s a meal worth eating.)