30 People Share Their Favorite Low-Effort Comfort Meals That Require 3 Ingredients Or Less

We all know that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows—at some point, things get a bit too much for us and we start feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’re burned out at work or stressed because of some relationship trouble. Perhaps you’ve had a major setback when it comes to your beloved creative projects. Many of us deal with this by snuggling under a cozy blanket, putting on a nostalgic TV show, and eating something tasty.

There’s nothing quite like comfort food to pick up your mood and make you see the bright side of things! Internet users revealed the quick and easy comfort meals they love making whenever they’re feeling blue in a thread on r/Cooking, and we’ve collected their best ideas. We know we’ll be trying a few of these instead of reaching for that pint of ice cream the next time we’re down.

Bored Panda reached out to the author of the thread, u/actuallyboa, who opened up about how food is both a form of art and love for them. We also got in touch with Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., the host of the mental health advice podcast ‘Baggage Check’ and the bestselling author of ‘Detox Your Thoughts,' to better understand why we find food so comforting and why moderation and mindful eating are so important. Read on for both of our interviews.


A classic grilled cheese sandwich made with sourdough bread, sharp cheddar, and Kerrygold salted butter.

Image credits: Darwin343

Dr. Bonior, the host of the 'Baggage Check' podcast, explained to Bored Panda that food experiences have strong associations with memories, "not only because our senses are involved but because they become traditions that are conditioned to make us feel a certain way because of the context of how we shared the food in the past." Our sense of smell, particularly, is very closely connected to our emotional memories.

"Many times we might associate certain meals with a certain loved one, or feeling safe and taken care of during childhood, or having a leisurely day of something being cooked or baked. Also, tasty food improves our mood almost instantaneously—not only satisfying the physical aspect of hunger but bringing pleasure," she said.


A tomato sandwich. All you need is tomato, mayonnaise, and sliced bread. I have this most summer days when fresh local tomatoes are at their peak. It's probably the meal I eat most often.

Image credits: flouronmypjs


Baked potato with butter and shredded cheddar

Image credits: Ok_Initial_2063

Bored Panda was also interested to learn more about having a healthy relationship with comfort food so that we don't overeat every time we're stressed. "I think it's important not to be all-or-none. No food is inherently 'bad' in moderation (unless it's poison!) So, if you think that a particular comfort food isn't necessarily the healthiest, why not try a smaller portion and pair it with something else that is more healthful, or substitute just one aspect of it for something healthier," Dr. Bonior gave some spot-on advice.

For instance, one thing that you could do is make mac n cheese with whole wheat noodles. Or bake a delicious chocolate cake with a bit less sugar. Something else that can help us get more from the comfort food experience, according to Dr. Bonior, is slowing down and eating more mindfully, "really pausing while we eat to truly take in how the food looks, how it smells, and to chew it slowly to notice the taste."

Moreover, serving the comfort food in a "particularly pretty way" can make the entire experience more of a ritual that's focused on relaxation and taking a break from all the stress and problems in your life. "By slowing it down and making it an event that you embrace, you'll enjoy it more, feel less guilty about it later, and actually be less likely to let it turn into a binge that you try to shame yourself for later."


I love to cut up a carrot or two and throw them in a foil packet with some olive oil and ginger. Salt to taste, seal up the packet and bake until you can smell it. Usually 20-30 minutes but I’ve left them for 45 before and they just get more caramelized. They end up sweet and savory and I can eat a whole bowl of it with nothing else added. Maybe some fresh ground pepper but not always. The ginger adds a great *something* to it.

Image credits: mlledufarge


Cinnamon toast

Image credits: rrroller


A toasted slice of a crusty Italian bread dipped in good, flavored olive oil. Add something like salt, pepper, garlic, or grated Parmesan if you're feeling ambitious.

Image credits: ItalnStalln

Meanwhile, the author of the r/Cooking thread, redditor u/actuallyboa, shared how they were enjoying a snack of buttered rice with tamari and were fascinated by how this simple food was so delicious. "I wanted to know about others’ experiences with simply comforting dishes they like to make," they told Bored Panda that they couldn't wait to hear what some other redditors thought.

"In my opinion, these simple foods represent a combination of nostalgia and certainty. Because they aren’t overly complicated, I believe we can taste them with our 'mind’s tongue' and when we enjoy them, it brings forth a lot of satisfaction and perhaps even good memories, making them perfect comfort foods. Some people value quantity when it comes to food, others value quality, but either way, we all have something delicious that brings us joy."

We also wanted to find out about some other comfort foods that redditor u/actuallyboa values. "I love the clean simplicity of sushi, the heartiness of good meats and cheeses, and the nourishment and comfort that comes with wholesome soups. With soup, the simpler, the better. These foods offer enjoyment to me on many different levels, because to me, food is both a form of art and a form of love."


gin and tonic


Tortilla filled with sharp cheddar and jalapenos, crisped up with oil in a frying pan.

Or better known as a cheese and jalapeno quesadilla.

Image credits: BelliAmie


Simple toast. Preferably with decent bread, at least Italian or sourdough. Toast it until it's really toasted not just warm bread and slather with Irish butter. Toast is one of my top 5 favorite foods.

Image credits: just-kath

We’re willing to wager that the absolute majority of humankind loves comfort food. Whether we’re aware of it or not, many of us gravitate to specific meals and snacks. Usually, they’re not just delicious—they have a nostalgic component, too.

Maybe you gravitate to a snack that you used to eat when you were a kid during some of the happiest moments of your childhood. Or you might make a dish that reminds you of what your mom or grandma used to make for you to show their love.

Our sense of smell and taste are both very powerful, and they can instantly remind us of the good old days. A perfect antidote to feeling down, and a great way to take a well-earned break from all the stress.


Hummus mixed with a good hot sauce on naan. It might sound like a weird combo, but it's pretty spectacular in practice.

Image credits: pan567


A caprese salad made with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. Drizzle with balsamic or Italian dressing.


fried rice

All you need is rice, egg, shallot/onion and some meat (optional). I’m not counting salt, pepper etc. here though

It’s easy and quick to make, and always my go to food when I’m sad

Image credits: kftsang

However, it’s not just nostalgic dishes that help pick us up! We also gravitate toward high-fat and sweet foods because they reward our brains. The problem is, however, that if you’re constantly eating comfort food, your health might suffer in the long term. Our bodies need far more than just ice cream, chocolate, and french fries to survive. (Oh, trust us, we’re not judging anyone; we’re very partial to drowning our sorrows in food—we know what it’s like.)

There are some other ways to deal with stress and sadness that don’t necessarily involve over-indulging in calories while spending 8 hours on the couch binge-watching whatever Netflix throws at you. For one, you could opt for healthier versions of comfort food, e.g. something that you make yourself. A pint of double-choco salted caramel cookie dough ice cream is great. But maybe cinnamon toast makes you feel better, too? Or something made with fresh ingredients, say, a salad your relatives used to make when you were visiting them in the country?


Pasta, parmesan, butter.


Good old fashioned PB&J sandwich

Image credits: nottheredbaron123


Fried cabbage with bacon and onions or leeks, or same with butter and parsley. With salt and pepper and maybe a fried egg and some toast, it's got for the gods at any meal.

Image credits: legendary_mushroom

However, it’s not just eating that makes us feel better. If you’re constantly under pressure and having to juggle fear, anger, and exhaustion, you need to manage that ASAP for the sake of your physical, emotional, and mental health. That starts with the basics.

Remember to stay hydrated. Get plenty of sleep. Move lots. Get away from the screen and meet some people face to face. Nostalgic nibbles help get us through the toughest of times, but it’s essential that you don’t drown in memories of the past while neglecting the present. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some snacks to look for…


Boxed macaroni and cheese.

Image credits: -UncleFarty-


Ramen noodles w sesame oil and chopped scallion.

Image credits: No_Virus_7704


Mujadara…caramelized onions, rice, and lentils. Yum!

Image credits: doggymomwalking


Popcorn ?


My favorite comfort food of all time is hot steamed white rice, a pat of butter, and tamari or soy sauce. It is simple perfection.

Image credits: actuallyboa


Spam musubi: Spam, Japanese short-grain white rice, and nori.

Image credits: Darwin343


Pyrogies, carmelized onions, sour cream


When I was in school, I'd often eat this incredible chia pudding. The only ingredients you need are chia seeds, coconut milk, and maple syrup.

Image credits: Wormspike


Egg drop soup is chicken broth, eggs, soy sauce and green onions. That's four but close enough. Add sesame oil optionally

Image credits: broncosandwrestling


Goya boxed yellow rice with a can of black beans and diced raw onion. Costs about tree fiddy, is filling, and brain dead easy to make. Remarkably tasty and the raw onion adds a crunchy texture that makes the dish work.

Image credits: MN_Shamalamadingdong


Tomato Bread

1. cut the best tomato you can find in half and grate it against the large holes of a box grater into a bowl with a paper towel folded at the bottom of the bowl, add salt and stir

2. Slice of sourdough goes in the toaster

3. Peel a garlic clove. You have a little time to clean the box grater, knife, cutting board.

4. Remove the paper towel, the tomato will have released a lot of water from the salt. At this point, add a dash of nice olive oil and a couple turns of black pepper. You can squeeze out the paper towel into something if you really want but the tomato water should be too salty to drink if salted properly and you need the salt in there initially to get the moisture drawn out. It’s a small loss.

5. Immediately when the toaster pops up, grate the garlic lightly on the surface of the bread, the residual heat “cooking” the garlic ever so slightly. This is not garlic bread so use a light touch.

6. Spoon the oily seasoned tomato mixture on the bread liberally so it soaks into the bread but still retains some crunch and does not fall apart. Serve immediately while still slightly warm.

If you have basic pantry ingredients, and you freeze your sourdough bread, you can literally make this anytime you have a tomato on hand. It’s delicious enough to impress anyone for breakfast or dinner, and it amazes me every time I have it how delicious something so simple can be if you put a little love and care into it.

Image credits: peelfoam


Oatmeal with peanut butter and a chopped apple stirred into it. For true comfort food, I just want to replicate a fancy version of those instant oatmeal packets from childhood.

Image credits: ttrockwood


Rigatoni cooked al dente with grated Parmesan and black pepper. It's like a poor man’s cacio e pepe.


Canned tomatoes with elbow macaroni pasta.


Pastina: mini star shaped pasta (Pastina), chicken bouillon, butter and parm if you want

Image credits: devieous

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