I’ve spent most of this summer trying to do as little as humanly possible. This includes cooking. Because I’m too lazy to shop for groceries regularly, I’ve been relying on pre-prepared foods which won’t go bad. Since I’m a vegetarian, this is problematic: all but one flavor of ramen (the alarmingly vague “Oriental” one) contain meat broth. In addition, the noodles are deep fried, and I have a strong desire not to keel over of a heart attack before graduation.

So, I’ve been exploring the more exotic aisles of the pre-made food section of the grocery store, and I’ve found that there is a life past ramen. Here are a few of my favorites so far. All of these food lines meet three criteria: they’re vegetarian, reasonably cheap, and available at the Publix near my house.

House Foods Tofu Noodles: These are a delightful combination of healthy (they’re 20 calories a serving) and bizarre. They are exactly what the name says–noodles made from tofu. The company sells a variety of different kinds of fake pasta, and they really do taste no different than any other weakly-flavored noodle. The texture isn’t any different, and unlike normal noodles, they’re already “cooked”–you just need to toss them in the microwave to heat them up. If you don’t want to deal with boiling pasta, these noodles plus some pasta sauce is an easy meal.

Amy’s frozen meals: I’m picking Amy’s in particular because I’ve found them to be the highest-quality frozen foods I’ve eaten. I have no idea if the organic food in the frozen meals is any better for me than any other frozen food brand, but it is tastier. In part, this is because Amy’s limits its microwave meals to things that don’t totally suck when prepared in a box, unlike some other frozen food lines–the food is primarily Mexican or Indian. I particularly recommend the enchiladas.

Dr. McDougall’s/Nile Spice Cup Meals: Two brands, one concept: a cup full of food which you prepare by dumping boiling water onto it and letting it sit. These are the slightly more diverse versions of cup noodles. However, unlike cup noodles (which taste vaguely carcinogenic), both of these brands offer a variety of foods. The Dr. McDougall’s tortilla soup is good, as is the Nile Spice couscous. Each cup is low-calorie (200 calories per cup, generally), and the portions are generous. In addition, both companies package the cup meals in papery cups, rather than Styrofoam, so if you’re worried about heated Styrofoam this takes care of it.

Cliff Bars: If you’re a meal bar for breakfast kind of person, these are by far my favorite.  Cliff bars come in a variety of flavors that don’t have that fake nutrition bar chocolate on them, and they’re hefty. Plus, oddly enough, my local hippie grocery sells them for cheap-ish in bulk. Win!

Do you have other favorite pre-prepared foods? Let us know in the comments!