5 No-Cook Dinners for When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking

No-cook meals
Photo Credit: Pinch of Yum

November 25, 2020

One of the best things a home cook can do is take a night off from cooking. Cooking is a lifelong responsibility to feed ourselves, and, for some, our families. The only way to make it a sustainable joy is to honor our cooking moods. After all, nobody wins if cooking is a constant stress.

The good news is that there are plenty of easy, affordable, well-balanced meals you can throw together when you don’t feel like cooking. These five no-cook recipes lean heavily on store-bought shortcuts, leftovers, and pantry staples. Some assembly acquired, but no little-to-no actual cooking.

chicken tostadas
Photo Credit: Dominic Perri

1. Ten-Minute Tostadas from Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner

These tostadas are my absolute favorite thing to make when I don’t feel like cooking. With tostadas, high-protein bean dip, and chicken — leftover, poached ahead of time, or store-bought rotisserie — nearly always on hand, this recipe is nearly always an option. Don’t have chicken? Load your tostadas up with whatever veggies you have lying around. Don’t have veggies either? In a pinch, tostadas, beans, and cheese do the job deliciously.

avocado egg salad
Photo Credit: Pinch of Yum

2. The Best Avocado Egg Salad from Pinch of Yum

My number one recommendation to home cooks is to keep hard-boiled eggs on hand. Versatile and nutritious, they can always be turned into a quick, no-cook meal. This avocado egg salad is just one delicious example . If you don’t have fresh herbs (or don’t feel like chopping them), skip the parsley and add dried dill instead.

vegetarian sushi bowls
Photo Credit: What’s Gaby Cooking?

3. Vegetarian Avocado Sushi Bowls from What’s Gaby Cooking

It’s true that you have to cook rice for these veggie sushi bowls, but you can ready yourself for no-cook nights by making a double batch the next time you cook rice and freezing half for this very scenario. If you are using pre-cooked rice, toss it with a little bit of rice wine vinegar as soon as it’s warmed through. Then pack on the goodness, remembering that nearly any veggie you’ve ever had in sushi — from sweet potato to mushrooms — will work. Go wild and use up those leftovers!

Photo Credit: Damn Delicious

4. The Perfect Easy Mezze Platter from Damn Delicious

We’re not sure what we like more: all of the dips on this platter or the fact that it’s built on a sheet pan. Either way, it doesn’t get easier than assembling these store-bought ingredients to make a satisfying snack-board meal. If you’re feeding more than just yourself, go all out like Chungah — it’s easy! Otherwise, build your platter on a regular-sized dinner plate. And don’t forget to finish the whole thing with a drizzle of healthy, high-quality olive oil and sea salt.

hero sandwich
Photo Credit: Didn’t I Just Feed You

5. Big Hero Sandwich from Didn’t I Just Feed You

While we love a no-cook recipe that hits all the regular dinner marks, it’s okay to go rogue on dinner food all together. If breakfast-for-dinner can be a thing, so can lunch-for-dinner! To make sure your sandwich satisfies, use a big, crusty loaf of bread and slather it with a flavor-packed spread. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match the rest of your sandwich ingredients: combine turkey and ham for extra animal protein, or skip meat all together and throw in roasted red peppers, shredded carrots, olives, and even mashed chickpeas for that hit of protein.

Your turn: What’s your go-to dinner when you’re too lazy / tired / cranky / emotional to cook?