Cooking with ADHD can be a challenge. If you struggle to find simple recipes, then you’re in the right place. This blog post contains 50 ADHD-friendly recipes and some tips for meal planning and meal prepping with ADHD.
Nutrition plays an important role in the management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Especially when it comes to managing blood sugar and associated ADHD symptoms.
But ADHD can make things like organization and executive function in the kitchen more difficult. Meal planning can help.
Read my article on the ADHD Diet for more information on how ADHD impacts nutrition and how nutrition can impact ADHD symptoms, as well as the 411 on following an elimination diet.
Benefits of meal planning with ADHD
Meal planning offers many benefits to those with ADHD, including:
- Helping with executive function
- Saving time & energy
- Saving money
- Reducing food waste
- Promoting nourishing meals at home
- Reducing overwhelm
Meal planning can be as simple as thinking of the meals or recipes that you will eat throughout the week, or as complex as having a 3-hour meal prep session on Sunday’s. It’s really what you make it.
Read my article on Meal Planning with ADHD and download my FREE weekly meal planner.
In order to simplify the meal planning and creation process for myself and for clients, I like to categorize meals and recipes based on the amount of effort that they will take.
Sorting favorite foods and recipes into these categories can help you make healthy food decisions in advance…as well as quick decisions when you are already hungry.
All of these meals require some amount of effort, like grocery shopping or food assembly, and that effort varies based on the category.
Low/no effort meals
Low effort meals include takeout, leftovers, convenience foods, and grab-and-go options like pre-cut fruit and veggie trays or a cooked rotisserie chicken.
You might default to these meals after a long day, when you are already hungry, or when you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of cooking.
A note on convenience foods
Convenience foods have a bad rap. As a Registered Dietitian, I feel as though it is my personal responsibility to debunk this.
If you only have energy for a snack plate (aka Girl Dinner) with cheese, crackers, meat sticks and some pre-cut fruit, then it’s a healthy choice. If adding chips to a salad makes you enjoy the salad more, it’s a healthy choice.
Convenience foods can be a part of a healthy diet. Incorporating them into meals can help ADHD adults stay nourished while keeping the overwhelm to a minimum.
In almost all cases, eating something is better than nothing. With the exception of eating foods you are sensitive or allergic to.
Minimal effort meals
Minimal effort meals will require some preparation, but very few steps. These include no-cook meals like a bagged salad that requires assembly, or frozen meals that just need to be baked or microwaved.
These usually don’t require a recipe.
You might make a meal like this when you need something fairly quick and easy. You may also have these options as your standard for breakfast and lunch; and plan to have something that requires a bit more effort for dinner. This is what I usually do.
Medium effort meals
Medium effort meals follow a recipe but have minimal steps, few ingredients and don’t require more than 10-minutes of preparation from you. Some good examples are the ADHD-friendly recipes in the next section!
You might make one of these meals when you have the motivation to stick to a grocery list, the energy to cook, are looking to meal prep, or to try something new.
Effort meals follow a more complicated recipe with more steps, ingredients, and prep time.
You might make these meals when you are feeling creative. They will require more energy and patience, so avoid them if you are feeling burnt out or overstimulated.
50 ADHD-friendly recipes
For the sake of this blog article, these yummy ADHD recipes will either be in that “minimal effort” or “medium effort” category. Meaning they will:
- Have minimal steps
- Use few ingredients
- Require less than 10 minutes of preparation
- Have fast cooking times (or no additional effort required from you when cooking, ie. sheet pan meals)
- Be nutrient-dense
- Require minimal cleanup
Consider this your virtual ADHD cookbook. I hope you enjoy these easy meals for ADHD!
Breakfast can be especially important for those on ADHD medications that curb appetite later in the day. Having a healthy and filling meal in the morning is a great way to get started.
Try one of these breakfast recipes:
- Tofu scramble – pair it with toast, fruit and/or veggies
- Breakfast tortilla wrap fold
- Egg muffins
- Healthy breakfast muffins
- 3-ingredient oatmeal breakfast cookies – an easy prep recipe for the week
- One dish peanut butter banana oatmeal bars
- 3-ingredient protein waffles (without protein powder)
- 5-ingredient banana cinnamon pancakes
- Banana cream pie overnight oats
- Overnight oats with frozen fruit
- 2-ingredient oat milk chia pudding
Lunch and dinner recipes
Lunch and dinner can be challenging as ADHDers tend to lack the energy and motivation later in the day. That’s why I like to focus on ADHD-friendly meals and/or beginner-friendly recipes that don’t require too much planning or executive function.
If this sounds like you, try one of these lunch or dinner recipes:
- BLT bagel sandwich
- Falafel gyro with tzatziki – use frozen or store bought falafel for a quick and low effort meal
- Curry pizza
- Chicken BBQ flatbread pizza
- Canned salmon sushi bowl
- Vegetarian burrito bowl
- Canned salmon pasta
- Pasta with heirloom tomatoes and plant-based mozzarella
- Instant Pot chicken and potatoes
- Sheet pan sausage and potatoes
- Sheet pan za’atar chicken, potatoes and green beans
- Vegan cannellini beans (aka pizza beans)
- Southwestern black bean and corn soup
- Vitamix tomato soup
- Turkey chili – this recipe takes a bit more effort but is a delicious option to meal prep or even batch and freeze. The effort goes a long way!
- Spicy udon noodles
- Furikake Salmon
- Mediterranean shrimp
- Air fryer steak bites
- Air fryer turkey burgers
- Microwave sweet potato – pair with greek yogurt, veggies and other favorite toppings
Having nourishing snacks on hand is so important for when hunger strikes. Below are a few favorites. However, I like to follow the snack formula: CARBOHYDRATE + PROTEIN +/or FAT.
So pair these options as you please. For instance, you might enjoy your hard boiled eggs on whole grains like a piece of bread or crackers; or have a piece of fruit with your trail mix. Some options, such as the cottage cheese toast, are already great on their own.
The options are endless! And this formula will help keep you full for longer.
Check out my High Protein Foods List for some more inspiration.
If you’re eating for ADHD and looking for something between meals, try these snacks:
- Hardboiled eggs
- Microwave edamame
- Healthy trail mix
- Chewy fruit and nut bars
- No-bake oatmeal cookie energy balls
- Cottage cheese toast
- Nutrition plays an important role in fueling the ADHD brain. Especially when it comes to managing blood sugar spikes and dips, and associated ADHD symptoms.
- ADHDers may struggle with kitchen tasks, such as meal planning and execution skills.
- Incorporating easy ADHD recipes into your diet can help you reduce hunger-related symptoms and stay healthy.
Let me know what you thought of this round up of ADHD-friendly recipes.
I will update this blog post with new recipes as I discover them. Please feel free to drop your favorites into the comments section!