Help! I Can’t Cook!


It’s a fact. Some people can’t cook. Of course, “I can’t cook” means different things to different people.

Some people can’t cook because they don’t have the means to cook. Maybe they rent a room that doesn’t have kitchen privileges. Maybe they live out of hotel rooms because they travel a lot. Maybe their stove is on the fritz. Or maybe their house did, indeed, come without a kitchen.

Some people can’t cook because, well, they just can’t cook. Maybe they just don’t have the patience. I, for example, have not made my own pie crust in years. I always felt like I was one rolling pin away from a nervous breakdown. And the grease stain never comes off the wall.

Then there’s the people who simply don’t cook. Nope. Not doin’ it.

What shall we do with all these non-cookers who still want to eat a healthy diet? As it turns out, I have a few ideas.



Easy No Cook Meals And Snacks

Chicken salad — grab some precooked organic chicken and mix with mayonnaise. Jazz things up a bit by adding your favorite mustard, some grapes, walnuts or whatever tickles your fancy!

Peanut butter and strawberry sandwich — pick up a fresh baked loaf of bread from your local bakery. Slather on some chunky peanut butter and sliced strawberries. Or smooth peanut butter and apple slices. How about cashew butter and fresh raspberries? There are no rules.

Overnight oats — There’s only about a million flavor combinations and it keeps for up to 5 days in your fridge. Win-win!

Tomato, mozzarella and basil — This is exactly what it sounds like it is. Slice up a fresh tomato and top it with slices of fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil. Pair this up with the cooked shrimp you picked up in the frozen food aisle and you’ve got a meal!

Garden salad — It all starts with some bagged lettuce and fresh veggies (get the pre-cut ones to save time!). Toss it up with some mushrooms, nuts, seeds, avocados, hard-boiled eggs and top if off with homemade ranch, thousand island or Caesar dressing. Because there’s no such thing as “just a salad”.

Corn Salad — Saw fresh corn off the cob, put it in a bowl with some thinly sliced red onion and radishes then toss it with lemon poppy dressing.

Coleslaw — Simply mix shredded cabbage, green and/or red, and grated carrots. Make the dressing with 2 tbls apple cider vinegar, 1 tbls olive oil, 2-3 tsp sugar and ¼ tsp salt. Ask the produce clerk to cut a head of cabbage so you can buy just a half or a quarter of it.

Fruit salad — A pile of your favorite fruits and berries topped with plain yogurt (mix in a bit of honey and a drop of vanilla, if desired). Use what’s left of the yogurt to make dill dip, which is great for dipping fresh veggies!

The Art Of Instant Pot Cooking

Let’s talk for a minute about how handy these are? Not only can this multi function puppy pressure-cook food in no time flat, it can slow cook, steam, sterilize, make yogurt, saute, cook rice, cook eggs and even air fry. It even comes in a mini (3 quart) size so you don’t have to cook for an army.

You can cook just about anything in an Instant Pot. Just throw it in there, turn it on and walk away. In case you’re feeling insecure, Instant Pot comes with access to an app that has cooking tips and recipes.

A more cost effective option in this category is a slow cooker. It doesn’t have as many uses but it will still cook dinner for you. No, it doesn’t come with an app but I can recommend this cookbook!

Sandwich maker

For around $20, you can own a compact and oh-so-awesome multipurpose cooking tool! It’s easy to use, easy to clean, easy to store and its uses are only limited to your imagination!

It’s compact size also makes it ideal for traveling. Non-stick surfaces require very little, if any, oil for cooking, making it a healthier option than some other cooking methods.

Of course, you can grill your sandwiches (the combinations are limitless enough already) but it’s also great for pancakes, french toast, cinnamon rolls, mini pies, cake and omelets.

Microwave

This magical device was invented in the 1940s and we’ve never looked back. The first home models, introduced in the 1960s, carried a price tag of around $4,000, when adjusted for inflation. Luckily for us, things have changed and we can pick up a decent model these days for less than $50.

Microwaves are not just for reheating last nights’ dinner. You can toast nuts or roast garlic. You can bake a potato or cook it cubed up for potato salad. Pasta, steamed vegetables, winter squash, sweet treats. Yes, you can even cook meat, although you’ll want to do a little research on cooking methods before you attempt that big, beautiful steak.

There are plenty of gadgets available (if you’re a gadget kind of person) but most of the time, you can use whatever microwave safe dishes you have on hand to achieve the desired effect. Sometimes, all you need is a mug.

You can also find microwaves in many places when you’re on the road. Convenience stores, supermarkets, truck stops and travel centers usually have them for public use. (Remember to be polite and buy a bottle of water or cup of coffee while you’re cooking your lunch!) Microwaves are standard issue in hotel and motel rooms. There’s also one in the break room at work, although it’s cleanliness is always in question.

Egg cooker

I’m not normally a fan of gadgets that do just one thing but this is my exception because…eggs, man. You can eat them hard-boiled or soft-boiled. You can serve them over toast or tucked in a sandwich.

Garden salads love them. Speaking of salads, so do pasta and potato salads. And what would egg salad be without eggs?

Pickle ‘em, devil ‘em, pair them up with some carbs like rice or spaghetti. Marry hard-boiled eggs and avocado for a super easy low carb meal that’s loaded with protein, healthy fat and fiber.

Eggs are stuffed full of nutrition and, at about 10 cents each, they’re an incomparable value.

Blender

Ah, the blender. Underrated, underappreciated, underused. It cries out for your attention. It can do so much more than make Margaritas.

It’s great for all kinds of drinks such as smoothies, milkshakes and frappes, real fruit slushies and frozen coffee.

Make a dessert mousse by blending an avocado, 2 tbls cocoa, 1 ½ honey and 1 few drops of vanilla. Then use the blender to make whipped cream to go on top.

Dress up any meal by blending a gazpacho or cucumber soup. Whip up some hollandaise, salsa, humus or pesto.

Heck, you can even use it to feed the baby.

Feeling adventurous? How about some homemade beauty treatments? Why spend money buying an oatmeal mask when you can make your own? How about making some nut butter or almond milk?

Oh, and since you’ve got the blender out, I will take a margarita!

Rice Cooker

I received a rice cooker as an (unsolicited) gift from a family member. I had never wanted one and I wasn’t sure I would ever even use it. Once again, I’m not a gadget person. I still use the cooking pans I got second hand from my parents after I got married, which they had received as a present when they got married, over 60 years ago. I just didn’t see the need to cook rice in a rice cooker when my elderly but reliable saucepan works just fine.

Except…

…that it’s awesome. And it’s not just for rice. That’s right. I said it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were all sorts of one pot meals I could make in this thing. It timed itself, I didn’t have to remember to stir it AND it kept it warm if I wasn’t ready to eat when it was done.

Now, I am a fan of rice so I usually mix in some raw protein and veggies right in with the uncooked rice and water and let it do it’s thing. Easy-peasy. Here’s the thing, though. It also has a steaming tray that suspends above the rice so I can just as easily cook the meat and veggies separately.

It makes oatmeal, mac and cheese, soups, chili and stewed fruit. You can even use it to bake breads and cakes.

It’s compact, easy to use and easy to clean. It’s versatile like the Instant Pot and slow cooker but with a few differences. It has fewer options than the Instant Pot and cooks faster than the slow cooker. The price range is broad but the price of a basic rice cooker is usually less than $20, similar to that of a basic slow cooker.

That About Sums It Up


OK, so that doesn’t really sum it up. There are a lot of different options out there for the cooking challenged and, if you search hard enough, you can learn how to use a curling iron to cook bacon or a clothing iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches. While it seems like either of these options could (technically) work, I’d like to think I put forth the most reasonable choices for people who can’t (or don’t) cook.

What about you? What cooking hacks have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia

Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com



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6 Replies to “Help! I Can’t Cook!”

  1. Ah, I’m glad that I decided to stay and surf around your website, I can easily see that I have found my instruction guide to learning more about how to cook! And, most importantly, how to do it right haha. Since I’m moving out, this website will be a tremendous help for me and I will be needing it for many other things and subjects, so I really appreciate it!

  2. I love the topic,so captivating. I can’t cook, I already asked the question in my mind,why? If you can’t cook then you don’t need to eat as per who will do the cooking and who does the eating. I love the articles as it provides solutions to the problem of many whose state of mind is the word above.thank you for sharing this here

  3. Another fab article Cynthia, thank you. Those were all a bunch of very simple recipes that could help anyone who doesn’t have the proper appliances or the wanting, motivation, or mental energy to cook. I know I fall into that last category quite a bit. I’ve been looking into getting an instant pot for a long while because I’ve seen so many delicious recipes online that use them and that egg cooker sounds amazing. I love making hard boiled eggs just to eat sometimes but sometimes I don’t cook them quite long enough or I just don’t want to get out a pot to boil eggs. 

    1. Thank you for the compliment and I’m glad you enjoyed the article.  Please let me know what appliances you decide on and how you like them!

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