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Give me your best no-cook, no-mess meals.

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I used to love cooking. Now I pretty much despise it. The planning, the constant cooking, dishes that never end, messes to clean...I'm over it. What used to be a fun hobby is now a never-ending tedious task. I'm ashamed to admit how many nights this week we've eaten cereal or a sandwich for dinner. I'm so busy with pets, caring for elderly in-laws, homeschooling by day, working full-time by night...I just don't have it in me to do elaborate meals.


I would like to develop a list of very simple no-cook, no-mess meals. Not something that requires two pans, one skillet, the food processor, two cutting boards, two spoons, one spatula, the colander...you get the idea. That's how I've always tended to cook and why I'm so burned out in the kitchen.


I don't mind cooking a big meal one or two nights a week and having leftovers for a couple of days (big pot of soup or chili, a roast, etc.) I need ideas for the rest of the week.


If I keep flatbread, pizza sauce, cheese and some peppers around I can make quick pizzas in the toaster oven. Nothing to wash afterwards other than a couple of plates. We can make a dinner of cut up veggies, some olives, feta, hummus and pita bread that just needs be popped in the toaster oven for a minute.


So, there are two things. I'd like to make a list of similarly easy ideas so that we're not always picking up the phone to order a pizza or grabbing a box of cereal. Suggestions?

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One thing you may want to consider is making a menu with similar ingredients and then doing the prep 1x a week. I am thinking of chopping the onions, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce etc... or browning the ground beef, grating the cheese etc...


Robin Miller (of Food Network) does this kind of thing.


OR you could focus on stocking your freezer with some pre-made meals.


FWIW we had easy Spaghetti, breadsticks from the freezer & salad for dinner. Pretty easy and tasty. NOT gourmet. LOL

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One meal I used to make frequently when I worked full time when the kids were 2 and 3, was a roasted chicken. The night before, I would clean out the chicken, throw it in the roasting pan with some baby carrots and baby potatoes (if you get them small enough, you don't even have to cut them.), and put the whole roasting pan in the fridge. I would ask my babysitter to pour a little chicken broth in the pan and stick it in the oven. If no one is home to do this, you could cook the whole thing ahead of time the night before, and just warm it up the next day. One roasting pan to clean!

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Don't cook then.


How old are your kids and where is dh?


I feel the same way and I finally threw my hands up and delegated it. Dh and teens do it about 50% of the time and I do it the rest of the time. And sometimes I don't even cook a main meal that often.

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Are you opposed to prepared foods? I rely on Trader Joes to avoid speed dialing for pizza. We love their frozen Chinese food collection.


We've also gone the cracker platter route for dinner . . . Cheeses, crackers or bread, salami or smoked salmon, some fruits.


Also, you can go gourmet with sandwiches without too much extra effort. My family loves open faced roast beef sandwiches and mashed potatoes. They don't even complain if the bread is from the bakery, meat from the deli, pre-made mashed potatoes, and gravy from a packet.


For more homemade dinners, salads or simple pastas are quick and easy.

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Are you for or against crock pots?


For crock pots. I've use it once or twice a week to make roasts, chili, etc.


Are you opposed to prepared foods? I rely on Trader Joes to avoid speed dialing for pizza. We love their frozen Chinese food collection.


Not entirely against them, but I have to be careful because of the sodium content of most prepared meals. Dh and MIL both have high blood pressure.


Have you thought about doing once a month cooking? It's a loooong day of cooking, but then you have 30-25 meals in the freezer, ready to go.


No, not right now, but I do take advantage of the freezer: if I make chili, soup, sloppy joes I'll double the recipe and freeze half for later. It's just as easy to make two quiches instead of one and freeze the second.


Lately though that's even more than I want to do.

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Don't cook then.


How old are your kids and where is dh?


I feel the same way and I finally threw my hands up and delegated it. Dh and teens do it about 50% of the time and I do it the rest of the time. And sometimes I don't even cook a main meal that often.


Kids are young: 3 and 7.


Dh is at work all day, comes home and we have a very hectic evening of dinner, household chores, kids who are craving Daddy time, and tending to my MIL's needs (she's elderly, disabled and lives with us.) He cooked tonight, FWIW (flatbread, olive oil, garlic, couple spears of asparagus, parm cheese, and an egg in the toaster oven- will have to add that to the list.) We've got a few hours most nights from the time he gets home to the time I have to leave for my 3rd shift job. In the morning he gets the kids up, feeds them breakfast and is ready to walk out the door for work as soon as I get home. No worries- he pulls his weight! :D

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My husband and son are vegetarian.


We often eat a HUGE salad for dinner.


We each have a BIG soup bowl and we fill

it with salad.


The yummiest ones have: romaine lettuce, carrots,

tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, nuts (pecans or walnuts),

radishes, and dried cherries.


We add oil, vinegar, Tamari, soy sauce, Braggs, or cooking wine

as salad dressings. For condiments we use Magic or one of

the Mrs. Dash. Also garlic powder (a sprinkle is really yummy!)


Artisan bread (often rye, with millet and sunflower seeds in and on it)

and butter rounds it all up! My mouth is watering!

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cottage cheese with canned fruit


lots of crockpot 365 meals love the whole chicken recipes, especially.


foil packets or 'silver dollar' dinners. it's camping food, but i just make up beef or turkey patties and slice an onion, then we add whatever veggies are left in the fridge/freezer. We each make our own fold up the foil really well and bake. We eat them right out of the foil.

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This requires cooking, but barely. I call it "cheater chili". I brown 2lbs ground beef in a pot. Add in 1 jar salsa and two cans of preseasoned "chili beans". Simmer until heated through. Serve with corn chips and some bagged grated cheddar cheese if you want.


Super easy and leaves plenty for left overs.

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Consider making breakfast the biggest, meatiest meal of the day; lunch a little less meaty; and dinner like a pauper. You can get some kind of rich breakfast thing made in a crockpot to cook all night, and he -- eggs cooked to order, pizza/soup/sandwiches for lunch, and some fruit and cheese for dinner with no apologies. Unless the kids have very energy intensive evening activities like swim or track, this should work.


Your name of wabi sabi makes me think you yearn for a much simpler meal plan anyway.

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I've been really, really done with cooking for a year now, though I'm starting what might be a recovery :) I just wrote this out for another community :)


I've been "barely cooking" every day for way too long, sigh. To help get myself out of this rut, I just revised and updated my list of tried-and-true dinners; here are our easy or quick meals from my tried-and-true list. Mostly main dishes. If I can do chopping and other prep in the morning, even these seem more possible.



Baked ziti (cook ziti, mix with sauce & cheese, put in fridge, put in oven when it's time to bake it)

Lasagne from the store :)

Any pasta or filled pasta (eg, ravioli, tortellini, stuffed shells from store) with any simple sauce (Marinara, butter-salt-pepper, olive-oil-herbs-Parmesan)

Tamales from the store and Mexican-style rice (quick homemade, for us)

Enchiladas, especially the frozen extras from another time


Pad thai or lo mein with veggies

Fried rice with egg and veggies

Potstickers from the store, with rice

Egg rolls or spring rolls from the store, with rice

Sloppy Joes on buns

Baked potatoes and toppings

Sauteed chicken with a pan sauce, with sides

Sausages, grilled, fried, or simmered in water, with sides



Some of the above, and...

Pasta salad, made early in the day

Grilled pizza

Scrambled egg & salsa burritos

Grilled sausages, burgers, or chicken

Hoagies/submarine or any other sandwiches

Big green salad with lots of add-ins available


I guess that's it. Good luck!!

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Barely cooked:

In a casserole layer two cans mac and cheese with 2 cans tuna (one mac, then one tuna, etc.) Cover with grated sharp cheddar cheese and regular potato chips partially crumbled (to about 1 inch across or so. Biggish pieces.) Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 minutes.


This is ridiculously good. Sounds horrible, tastes decent.


Another one:

Saute chicken pieces (4 breasts or 8 thighs) until a bit goldish.

Put in a heavy pot, cover with 2 cans of Campbells Healthy Request Cream of Chicken soup. Cook over low heat, covered, for 1/2 hour.


Another one:

One can of that soup, plus one can of chicken with rice soup, plus one can of non-fat milk.


Another one:

Anderson's Pea Soup--however many cans you need, then doctor with a little crumbled, dried dill and a splash of cream sherry right before serving.

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Here's a dinner everyone likes and its super easy to make!


Taco Salad


1 pound hamburger

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 head of lettuce (sliced or torn up)

1 pack of shredded cheese

1 can of refried beans

1 bag of Doritos (crushed)

Sour cream (optional)

Salsa (optional)


Cook the hamburger, drain fat, add taco seasoning and water, simmer. Warm up the beans in the microwave.


Layer the taco salad on individual plates:



  • Refried beans (putting the beans on bottom keeps the salad from sliding around)
  • Doritos
  • lettuce
  • taco meat
  • cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream


You could leave out the taco meat if you want to avoid washing a skillet.

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I've been known to whip up some mighty yummy burritos from canned & frozen items. If I have whole wheat tortillas, good canned re-fried beans, frozen veggies (anything- spinach, broc, corn) shredded cheese, and a jar of organic salsa on hand, I'm good to go. You do need an oven or microwave. Amy's canned chili also works if you don't have canned or frozen beans. Adding dry cumin to the beans helps lots. If you have energy, sauteing garlic and onion in olive oil is nice to add to the beans and veggies. Quiona cooks up in minutes and adds heft to the beans. Trader Joe's carries frozen, cooked brown rice, and that can be added to the beans, or mixed with salsa and/or frozen veggies. I suppose this does take at least one saute pan, lol, but you can heat the finished burrito in foil in the oven, or on a plate in microwave. Serve with carrot sticks. ;)

Edited by LibraryLover
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