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What do you cook when you don't feel like cooking?

  • l

I love to cook, but sometimes all of a sudden I lose the energy to make what I want. (Like when I know the grocery store is going to be a mad house.) Or I start to think I am a freak for wanting to make extravagant meals for just myself to eat. So I want something simple, without having to order in. I know there is always the option of scrambled eggs and frittata and grilled cheese, but what else? What does everyone else do when they don't really feel like cooking, yet know they are going to anyway?

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  1. When I make something, I make 4-6x the recipe and freeze for future use (I once made 12 meatloaves at once!).

    For me, feeling hungry and feeling like cooking rarely happen simultaneously! This way I eat well every night, but only cook occasionally. "It's a good thing." :)

    (You can also freeze your grilled cheese sandwiches--taste nearly the same if reheated properly!)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Funwithfood

      I'm a big freezer person as well...I love having a half dozen great meals just waiting to be thawed out.

      But when I really really really don't want to cook but have nothing thawed, I make eggs benedict on cream biscuits with blender hollandaise. Fast, easy and the husband loves it.

      1. re: Funwithfood

        how do you freeze grill cheese sandwiches, and how do you reheat them? on the stovetop in a pan? and are they just plain cheese - or do you freeze them with tomato, apple, or something else in them too? sounds good!

      2. That's how I feel today. The weather is gorgeous, and what I really want to do is lounge in the sun and have a drink or two. But I need to get to the gym, so no alcohol before night time!

        Aside from freezer food (which I love):

        Cold soba noodles are a standard on "no one wants to cook" days. You just boil them, shock them in ice water, add some prepared soba sauce (slightly flavored ponzu/soy), and sprinkle with some dried seaweed. It's more filling than a salad.

        Today, however, I'm going to make a very no-frills potato salad and enjoy with salt and vinegar Kettle Chips. A girl's gotta eat junk food once in awhile.

        1. My meal when I don't want to cook is often pasta with sauce and parmesan. Its not hearty but satisfying nonetheless.

          This works because when I make sauce I freeze it in ziplocs flat, the benefit being I can break-off chunks, just a cup or less if I want. If there is any leftover protein, you can just throw it in. Easy.

          1. The perfect dish for those times is a nice bowl of Spaghetti(or Linguine) Aglio Olio- served with some nice crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine.

            Or any other pasta dish where the sauce is ready by the time the water is boiling, but that one is my favorite by far.

            1. I always have bagels in the house. When I'm alone I like to make pizza bagels. I sometimes throw together a quick sauce. Sometimes I just slice tomatoe, sprinkle with grated cheese (or use whatever cheese I have in the fridge),oregano and a little olive oil. Then broil. So easy and satisfying.

              1. We go out.

                1. I bake a potato and a few garlic cloves; when they're done I squish the garlic with some butter and spread it on the potato. Very tasty and almost no effort - just waiting for everything to cook.

                  1. When neither of us really feels like cooking, I'll usually throw together a quick tomato sauce. No chopping (I'll use refrigerated minced garlic), no measuring -it's done by the time the linguine has boiled. A dish of pasta, a tossed salad and a glass of red wine makes an easy dinner.

                    If it's late at night, though, when pasta might seem a bit heavy, I'll make matzoh brei. We always have unsalted matzoh in the house, as well as Eggbeaters.

                    Last resort? Dry cereal with skim milk and a sliced banana. Who said it's just for breakfast?

                    1. In general, I like to cook, but I don't have much time and want to expend a minimum of effort, especially during the work week. I'll bake, broil, or roast some meat (easy, just get it in the oven at the right temp. and forget about it until it is done), like chicken parts, fish, steak, pork chops etc. Then I'll either make a salad (from a bagged mix, sometimes with additional stuff added) or a steamed veggie. I'll also make some pasta side dish or rice, I usually rely on mixes for these, they are also fast and don't require much effort. We also go out a lot ;-)

                      1. Since I have a lot of acceptable takeout options, I usually *don't* cook when I really don't feel like it, but this is also why I try to make sure I always have something that freezes well in the freezer - stew, chili, or even just good tomato sauce for pasta.

                        They can all be defrosted quickly with no loss in flavor or texture, unlike raw meat for example, and it feels more like "a proper dinner" than scrambled eggs. And since it doesn't take much more effort to double that sort of recipe, it's not a lot more work at the initial cooking stage, either.

                        1. 1. Order pizza like I did tonight.
                          2. I always cook more than I need or want to finish, so I put a variety of single servings of soups as well as entrees in the freezer, which I defrost and cook in the microwave. I save those nice flat plastic covered trays from Chinese takeout and put complete meals in them and throw in the freezer for nights like this.

                          1. I recently took someone's suggestion about buying Progresso lentil soup and I added fresh baby spinach and excellent quality andouille sausage, heated and viola...it was really good and I NEVER eat canned soups!!
                            Good quality cheese and hearty bread...c'est tout!!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: 4chowpups

                              A short composition played on the viola during soup coourse always makes a meal special.

                              1. re: Sir Gawain

                                o.k. so now all my co-workers are wondering why i'm in my cube snorting with laughter.

                                1. re: megan

                                  Oops! That's what I get for typing too fast...glad I can add humor (or humah as they say around here) to your work day!!

                            2. A nice matzo brei is quick and easy.

                              1. Sandwich and a can of soup (comfort food!)

                                Shredded boneless chicken breast, cold, tossed with spicy "whip up a quart in a food processor" peanut sauce - or just with firey-hot sambal (red pepper paste) or other hot Chinese condiment.

                                1. I cook instant noodles (ramen) - the kind that comes in a packet, not a cup; I add whatever vegetables are in the fridge (frozen peas will do if I'm out of fresh veg), an egg, garnish with fried shallots (which I always have on hand) and voila! a tasty meal in less than 10 minutes. My husband will have to make do with canned soup, since he doesn't like noodles.

                                  1. When in that mood, I often prepare a snack platter. I take my large cutting board and throw on a number of the following: cheeses, crackers, bread, smoked salmon, canned sardines, canned tuna, sour cream, sliced fruit, carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, onions, hummus, pita, nuts, olives, etc. Carry the cutting board to the table along with a glass of wine and dig in.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: nja

                                      This is exactly what we do. Sometimes I'll fry a little bacon or pancetta and then pour balsamic over it and let the vinegar get thick. Comes out like a seriously yummy jerky that we eat with fruit, vegetables, cheese and crusty bread or crackers.

                                      This was the first meal my husband and I ever had together and it's become a romantic thing for us. Simple and you can eat it with your fingers by candelight!

                                    2. Tuna melt with mayo, nature's seasoning, tomato, and cheddar.

                                      Fusilli with parmesan and butter.

                                      Cottage cheese mixed with sweetener, cinnamon, vanilla, and cooked brown rice, then heated to make a mock rice pudding.

                                      Fried rice scrambled with egg whites, soy, and veggies on hand.

                                      Toaster waffles :) Van de Kemps.

                                      Split pea soup with garbanzo beans and chopped tomatoes added along with a buttered toast crostini.

                                      Protein shake.

                                      Or, skip dessert and open a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        I also fall back to a tuna melt. I make the tuna with chopped apples, onion and pine nuts. Seasoned liberally with lemon pepper.

                                      2. open faced tomato, cheese and bacon sandwichs. Toast two pieces of Italina bread, top with cooked bacon, tomatoes, and cheese of choice, and throw under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. Easy, quick and comforting!

                                        1. Brown rice in the rice cooker as soon as I get home, then have a while to decide between stirfry , or canned black beans doctored up with onions, garlic, whatever veggies are in the freezer (especially corn and red pepper), salsa, plenty of tabasco. This could also go on a tortilla, with an egg.

                                          Then fried rice later in the week with the leftover rice.

                                          1. Sometimes I doctor up a pot of 5-minute oatmeal with nuts, dried fruit, and spices. If you add milk it works out to be a pretty square meal.

                                            1. c
                                              Caitlin wheeler

                                              I keep some frozen dough in the freezer and I try to keep canned tomatoes and fresh mozzarella around so I can make a quick homemade pizza.

                                              I also usually have a package of precooked gourmet chicken or turkey sausages -- the kind I usually get are Gerhard's brand, which can heat up quickly, and I'll eat them with some Asian coleslaw (coleslaw mix, seasoned rice vinegar, a little grated ginger, sesame seeds) or wilted greens.

                                              I also cook hamburger crumbled with melted cheddar and worcestireshire sauce.

                                              Or fried egg and cheese sandwiches.

                                              1. top ramen with egg

                                                1. Peanut Butter Pasta. It's basically a satay sauce with pasta. Just mix peanut butter, soy, and whatever Asian flavors strike your fancy. I've added fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, Thai chili sauce, oyster sauce, even hoisin. You may need to thin it down with water. Just toss with hot pasta. Frozen veggies are good in it. Also, on the same theme, my Mom brings a whole mess of Vietnamese spring rolls when she visits and I freeze it an bake them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes. Definitely what I've done when I'm too lazy to cook.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: verucaamish

                                                    Oh, I wish I had the discipline to freeze my mom's spring rolls when she makes up a batch, but I always make a total pig of myself and eat them all up by end of day.

                                                    1. re: twinmommy

                                                      For me it has nothing to do with self control. She brings TONS. I'm talking a whole aluminum roasting pan's worth.

                                                  2. quesadillas with black beans, cheese, and avocado. Or a baked sweet potato.

                                                    1. As Funwithfood mentioned I also often make larger batches and freeze them. In a two person household we have a large chest freezer as well as an additional standup.

                                                      I also sometimes make pizza sandwiches, basically a grilled cheese with some spicy tomato sauce and good quality cheese grilled between a couple of slices of nice crusty bread (in college it was prego,wonder bread and fat free singles -hmm I'd probably still eat thet)

                                                      Rice steamers are also great for those nights when I'm hungry but don't feel like cooking. You can throw any combo of ingredients and liquid turn it on and walk away.

                                                      1. Boxed macaroni and cheese jacked up with chipotle or wasabi (started this trend with tobasco when I was 13 or so).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: julesrules

                                                          Or mac and cheese with frozen chopped broccoli - defrosted or course (only way to get my college roommate to eat vegetables).

                                                        2. quesadillas, breakfast burritos, edamame (microwaved!), pate and cheeses with baguette, a quick salad with lemon and olive oil dressing, cannelini and tuna salad with balsamic, olive oil, some chopped cherry tomatoes, maybe red pepper, garlic salt and pepper, ramen w poached egg, scallions, frozen broccoli stir fried with soy sauce and garlic (great topping for congee/jook, i've even used oatmeal... not quite as good, but really healthy).

                                                          those things all take less than 20 minutes...

                                                          for a more solid meal, recently, i'm into marcella hazan's two easiest recipes, chicken with lemon and butter and onion tomato sauce, both of which take awhile to cook (45 min to 1 h 15 minutes) but are simple enough for it to not matter and then there are lots of of left overs.

                                                          actually, i don't do real cooking anymore, so this is basicaly what i eat every night if i don't go out

                                                          1. Reuban or some other grilled sandwich in a "mirro Whiz Grill". Or heat up a cheap maple leaf farms breaded chicked with some sort of filling. If I am off of solids for not feeling well, some "instant Miso Soup"

                                                            1. I live alone, so I only cook on the weekends when my borfriend's around. We do huge batches and freeze, and I eat the leftovers for lunch. I would rather have my big meal at midday anyway, so I'm not much interested in food at night when I get home. I tend to graze, a little yogurt here, a little toast there, a bit of salad, that sort of thing. I'm just not that hungry in the evening.

                                                              But if I want hot food, it's normally eggs in some form or other. My favorite of late is a bit of ham from the freezer, chopped fine and sauteed for a minute. Add a big bunch of kale (or beet greens if that's what's around, or chard) and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Saute until just shy of cooked. Push to the side of the pan and crack an egg in. Cook it over easy, then dump the whole thing on a plate. Dinner.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: curiousbaker

                                                                yum, that sounds good, i like the kale addition, i'll try it.

                                                              2. s
                                                                sally from LA

                                                                BLT on wholewheat toast, or boiled egg with vegemite soldiers (strips of toast, butter & vegemite to dip into the eggshell. And yes, I am Australian!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: sally from LA

                                                                  Ditto on the vegemite (and I am Scottish, not Australian). Also like fried egg sandwich on sour dough with lettuce and mayo, salt and cracked pepper. Yum, I could eat two of those right now but am still on the liquid diet. Rats.

                                                                2. A bowl of breakfast cereal ( Kashi and Great Grains this week) topped with some smashed almonds and some raisins, perhaps a sliced banana, and nice cold skim milk. Comfort food. At least it's nutritious, if lacking in veggies.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: p.j.

                                                                    Im with you, if I dont feel like cooking thats a step up from takeout but also dont want to clean up. Its cereal, Farina, or PBJ, otherwise leftovers. A step up from that would be opening a can of Clam sauce and boiling linguini.

                                                                  2. Stir-fried "clear out the fridge."
                                                                    Whole wheat toast with cheese and tomato.
                                                                    Tabachnik's frozen pea soup.
                                                                    Trader Joe's chickpeas in curry sauce, with rice.
                                                                    Omelette filled with chopped leftovers.
                                                                    French toast or pancakes (breakfast for dinner).
                                                                    Green beans with tamari, ginger and garlic.

                                                                    1. Especially in the summer, I grab some herbs from the garden and peeled garlic and stuff them into the cavity of a lake trout. I brush olive oil over the skin and barbecue on the gas grill, turning it over once, until cooked through but still moist. Can do the same thing in a hot oven, as Anthony Bourdain suggests in Kitchen Confidential. I add a some slices of lemon and a salad. It's a pretty quick dinner.

                                                                      1. c
                                                                        Caitlin McGrath

                                                                        This is exactly what decent jarred pasta sauce exists in my pantry for. Boiling water for pasta and putting a couple handfuls of lettuce on a salad plate is usually doable.

                                                                        1. I find that fish is great for those times I don't feel like cooking. I usually keep cod and salmon fillets in the freezer. With the salmon, I'll make salmon salad and serve it over some greens. With the cod, I'll just season it, put some lemon juice on it and bake in the oven. Serve w/ steamed veggie and rice.
                                                                          Recently I made lamb shoulder chops and discovered how quick and delicious they are (and very affordable too). They are perfect for those don't want to cook nights. Just season w/ s and p and broil in toaster oven. These dishes take about 15 minutes from opening the package to getting dinner served. Hope this helps.

                                                                          1. Box of deluxe mac n cheese (the stuff with the sauce - not the powder). I add some chopped veggies like broccoli, califlower, peas, carrots, and onions with some diced ham or salami -all of which I get off the store salad bar. I add the extras to the pot of boiling macaroni right before they are tender. Drain and mix with the cheese package and some of my own cheese and some paprika and black pepper.

                                                                            1. In summer:
                                                                              pasta tossed with chopped tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella and basil leaves
                                                                              prosciutto crudo with melon slices

                                                                              In winter:
                                                                              linguine carbonara
                                                                              baked potato with baked beans
                                                                              yorkshire pudding for one with baked beans (or honey if I want something sweet)
                                                                              potato galette for one with smoked cheese and parmesan
                                                                              toasted muffins or crumpets with butter or a fried egg

                                                                              All year round: chocolate cinnamon banana bread

                                                                              It's all about the carbs. And I just can't handle fish when I'm in this kind of mood...