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10 Recipes To Save You When You Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking

Embrace the low-key nature of the summer season and hit up one of these tried and true lazy person recipes.

And by the way, “when you just don’t feel like cooking” is code for THE WHOLE SUMMER.

I think we can all appreciate that summer is the time where sitting outside on a hammock with a sparkly drink and watching dogs and kids play in little splashy pools is far, far superior to standing over the stove trying to get creative about what we eat for dinner.

The problem, for me, is that while I have little to no interest in meal planning and cooking right now, I still want to eat GOOD food. Like, if I could exclusively eat food that tastes happy and fresh and fun while also exerting little to no effort for planning, prep, or dishes, that would be great.

Option A: get takeout for every meal.

Option B: embrace the low-key nature of the summer season and hit up one of these tried and true lazy person recipes instead.


1. Cheater’s Power Salad

Cheater's Power Salad in a bowl.

Listen, this is not meant to impress you. That’s why it’s called Cheater’s Power Salad. But if we are going to talk about what to make when you really don’t feel like cooking, then we need to face the very real facts that sometimes a pre-bagged salad can deliver the foundation from which to build something very scrappy, healthy, and delicious.

Here’s the recipe: a bag of salad, a package of pre-made dressing if it’s a good one – YES YOU HEARD ME – and then whatever fresh veggies are in your fridge (tomatoes? cucumbers? corn?). Don’t forget some chunks of avocado, maybe some beans, possibly grilled chicken if you are going fancy, and done.

I am totally for real with this. Variations of this have been on my real life meal plan for the last three weeks. Zero shame.

2. Magic Green Sauce

Magic Green Sauce in a bowl.

So you don’t feel like cooking? Cool. Don’t cook.

Gather some raw veggies, some cheese, crackers (and by crackers I mean chips), and make a five-minute batch of Magic Green Sauce.

I have been known to eat this sauce with a heap of tortilla chips as just straight lunch. It’s not really advisable from a balanced eating perspective, but listen, we are dealing with some major cooking delinquency here. A win is a win is a win!

3. Carnitas

Crispy carnitas in a bowl.

In other words, crispy pork loaded with flavor that delivers greatly and yet asks so very little of you. You make it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. It feeds a crowd beautifully and everyone is always impressed at “what a great cook you are.” The end.

4. The Actual Easiest Fish Tacos

Fish tacos in flour tortillas with slaw.

This is the fish tacos recipe for when you are THISCLOSE to getting takeout. Again.

Recipe instructions: Put fish in pan. Cover with melted butter and spices. Bake, flake, and done.

A) it’s so easy.

But B) IT’S REALLY SO GOOD.

Make the (admittedly very delicious!!) garlic cilantro sauce if you want, or skip it if you’d rather just sit outside and drink a lemonade. How much can one person be expected to do when it’s this nice outside, honestly?

5. Salmon Burgers

Salmon Burger on a plate with slaw.

Under no other circumstances would I tell you to eat salmon from a can.

Except for now. This is the time that I’m going to tell you that yes, salmon from a can will save your lazy bum when you’re just needing a good meal right now, like, ready in 15 minutes. And things will get shockingly delicious when fried into a little salmon burger situation and thrown onto a bun and/or over some saucy cabbage slaw. It is one of my favorite easy recipes of all time.

6. Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Fried chicken sandwich with slaw and pickles.

The twisted thing about not wanting to cook is that sometimes you don’t really want to cook but you are open to taking on a bigger cooking project. Like, no, I can’t make dinner tonight. And yes, after I eat a frozen pizza, I will embark on my first ever journey to homemade croissants.

No one said this was going to make any sense.

Weirdly, I find that when I don’t feel like cooking, sometimes what it means is that I’m just bored with cooking. And making something mega from scratch, like FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICHES THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND, is exactly what the doctor ordered to get my excitement level up again. Is this… am I… like, how do we feel about this?

Yes, this is a project. No, technically this recipe doesn’t belong on this list. But speaking from experience, this could be the OMG-yum project that makes you excited to cook again.

7. Sheet Pan Fajitas Or Sheet Pan Pitas

Chicken, veggies, and toppings for sheet pan pitas.

Or sheet pan anything.

Here’s one of my favorite hacks about sheet pan pitas: you make one sheet pan of stuff (chicken and peppers), and then you can buy all the sauces and extras! No prep needed! Sure, you can make your own tzatziki or hummus or pitas, but hey guess what! LOTS of grocery stores sell that stuff pre-made! 2020 is a great time to be alive!

Looks beautiful, makes people happy, very low maintenance. Highly recommend.

8. Curry Chicken Salad Or Avocado Egg Salad

Avocado Egg Salad on an everything bagel.

This is a picture of avocado egg salad on a toasted everything bagel because is there any other way?

Both the egg salad and the chicken salad are just so friendly to us Not-Wanting-To-Cook People in that they require, like, 5-8 pantry ingredients, and about 10-15 minutes of prep. I think lunches are settled then.

9. Cashew Crunch Salad

Cashew Crunch Salad in a bowl with dressing.

Hello hi this is a salad that features those little crunchy chow mein sticks? So that is where we are at now.

This is more of an assembly situation and less of a cooking situation. The creamy, sweet, unusually yummy dressing can be shaken up in a jar and the chow mein noodles can be, well, you can just open the bag. There’s also plenty of non-demanding healthy stuff in there like edamame, cashews, and cabbage.

I might actually make this for dinner tonight. It’s pulling me in.

10. Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.

I’ll be the first to tell you that we eat a lot of boxed mac and cheese at our house. There is a time and a place (or lots of times and places!) where that is the exact thing you need.

But this mac offers something even more special by combining the low, low effort of boxed mac and cheese with the texture, sauciness, and actual cheese flavor of a really nice homemade mac and cheese. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

In the form of cheese sauce. On noodles. In the Instant Pot.


What do you cook when you don’t want to cook?

Asking for a friend.

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25 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    T

    Thai Beef Noodle Salad: cold cooked linguine, bottled Thai salad dressing (or make your own), chopped veggies of choice (romaine, red bell pepper, shredded carrots, thinly sliced cucumber and radishes are personal favorites), and thinly sliced deli roast beef. If kids ever get to go back to school leftovers are GREAT for lunchboxes.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sarah Jane

    Thanks for doing my meal plan for next week 🙂 Can’t wait to dig into those fried chicken sandwiches (and having my husband fry the chicken outside in the big fryer).

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        CC

        What you said about the fried chicken sandwich is so TRUE! I don’t wanna cook but I’ll take on a 5 hour baking project anyway. All of these recipes look so good!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sally Tandy

    This is exactly what I’ve been needing in my life, and I didn’t know it until now. Thanks for looking out for us, POY! 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thanks @pinchofyum for sharing this blog. My children’s gonna love this recipes. Superb list! I follow Top Women Lifestyle blogs to stay updated..

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Tammy

    Those pre-made salads are a go-to food in our house. I will grill up a package of chicken and divide it into 4 oz. portions and freeze. Then, don’t want to cook? Grab a salad mix, a protein (canned beans, the frozen chicken, frozen shrimp, leftover steak) anything else that strikes your fancy and boom, dinner done. I also make taco meat a lot and always have stuff on hand for taco salad or loaded nachoes. I’ll have to add some of your ideas to our list. That Instant pot Mac-n-cheese is looking good!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Betsy

    When I don’t want to cook, I make Salsa Eggs. Spoon some salsa into a pan over medium high heat until some of the liquid cooks off. Scramble some eggs into the salsa. Melt some cheddar into the eggs just as they finish cooking. Super flavorful, no veggie chopping, ready in literal minutes!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Tricia B.

    I’m sooo going to make the Cheaters Power Salad & Salmon Burgers – FOR SURE! All look delicious but these two caught my eye – or should I say taste buds! LOL!
    Lindsay, I love your blog & look forward to seeing what’s new for me to make. Again, love your site/photography, etc..

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Amy

    Thank you so much for this list! I’ll definitely be pulling from it this summer. I keep a list of quick meals taped inside a cupboard door for the nights where we need something fast and I just can’t think.

    Some of our family favourites are:
    -eggs & toast
    -black bean quesadillas
    -the homemade burritos we keep the freezer stocked with
    -ham/cheese/veggie wraps

    Plus whatever raw veg/fruit we can slice up for on the side.