Update: John Maxwell and I have a startup making nutritionally complete food, MealSquares (which is likely better for weightloss see below)
This came up at a meetup a while back. Several people, myself included, expressed frustration with the time, cost, stress, of preparing reasonably healthy and tasty meals. I suspect this frustration is widespread among people who do work that requires a lot of focus. Leaving flow because your body needs maintenance is annoying. So I'm sharing a strategy that has helped me.
I was encouraged by the success of Soylent. I had been playing around with ingredients for post workout shakes for months. But reading the Soylent blog posts inspired me to do a full micronutrient breakdown of what I had been drinking and optimize in a more rigorous fashion. Why not copy the soylent recipe?
1. I'm not realistically going to source all of those ingredients
2. He risks (and has already had problems with) misdosing himself to deleterious effect, this problem doesn't exist with whole foods
3. The absorption of powders vs whole foods is contentious
4. I don't agree with his criteria for inclusion
In comparison, my recipe is extremely easy and cheap to source, due to the small number of ingredients.
There is an immediate problem with meal replacement shakes in that liquid calories tend to have a significantly smaller satiety effect than solid foods. So this will probably not be a good solution for you if have difficulties keeping your overall caloric intake down.
[EDIT: Removed the link to the recipe, John and I are planning to commercialize this in addition to MealSquares at some point. Get in touch with me if you really need the recipe and won't spread it around.]
This is a work in progress and I am looking for further ideas for improvement. Subjectively I can say I find this recipe delicious, and hugely prefer it post-workout to even the best junk food (pizza, etc.). The combination of milk, vanilla, banana, and orange juice tastes kind of like an orange julius. It has also been a major stress relief and time saver. I don't worry so much about nutrient deficiencies anymore as this shake in addition to a meat or egg based meal has me pretty well covered.
I am due for another blood panel and will report any anomalies as I've been drinking a similar concoction for around 6-8 months.
I am open to debating the merits of my ingredient choices (as well as the overall wisdom of this scheme) in the comments. Also please share any other strategies you have for making food less of a chore.
Edit: I finally got my blood panel back and everything is looking good. Triglycerides unchanged, HDL up, LDL slightly down. All other numbers within the healthy range. I'm a little concerned about my iron level (what is considered normal may not be optimal for longevity), and plan on giving blood to lower it, but this is orthogonal to the use of a dietary shake I believe.
Edit: Kefir is expensive but highly recommended for lactose intolerant individuals. It is also delicious.