What To Cook When You Don’t Have Time To Cook

We’ve all been there.  Heck, some of us are there every single day.  You had to work late.  You have to be somewhere early.  Your son has football practice and your daughter has soccer.  You got a flat tire on the way home.  Whatever it is, it’s left you with no time but guess what?  You still have to eat.  

It’s tempting to just hit the drive-thru or order delivery but you’re trying to eat healthy, right?  There are some healthy things you can do to eat healthy…even if you don’t have the time.  Here are a few ideas about what to cook when you don’t have time to cook. 

Grab It and Go

Sometimes the best strategy is to have some prepared foods on hand so you can just grab it and go, especially if you know you’re going to be short on time in the coming days.  

Leftovers.  Don’t toss the leftovers!  Break them down into serving-sized portions (even if it’s only one serving) and put them in the fridge or freezer for another time.

Make It Ahead of Time.  If you know you’re going to be rushed in the morning, overnight oats are a great breakfast that you can just take with you.  Breakfast cookies can be prepared in a short order of time and then stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick snack. Sometimes I bake this cauliflower casserole and package it into serving size pieces for easy meals during the week. 

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand.  Nuts, dried fruit, baby carrots, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, whatever tickles your fancy. 

Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

Plan Ahead.  Naan dough is easy to throw together and it keeps in your fridge (ready to bake) for up to 3 days.  Throw on some topping to make a flatbread pizza or spread on some peanut butter, granola and honey.  

Dust Off Your Slow Cooker.  There’s nothing better than coming home to find that dinner is ready.  You can use a recipe like this pulled pork or do your own thing.  Throw in some meat and veggies (get the precut veggies from the produce department or use frozen to save time).  Add a little broth or some sauce, turn it on and walk away.  

Make It Quick.  Things like spinach feta pitas and this pasta dish are super easy and come together super fast!  Scramble some eggs with veggies and cheese for a light meal or whip up some scallops in less than 5 minutes.

Or Don’t Cook At All

Have A Sandwich.  What’s in your fridge?  A piece of leftover chicken or pork tenderloin?  Slice it thin and throw it on some bread.  Fry an egg.  Cream cheese and olives.  Or make this veggie wrap.

Always Have Peanut Butter On Hand.  Spread it on toast or crackers, with apple slices, slathered on a banana or eat it right off the spoon!

Salad Days.  There are many different kinds of lettuce available, already torn into bite-sized pieces and bagged up in the produce department, ready to go.  Pair it with some cherry tomatoes, leftover meat or hard-boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and your favorite dressing.  Dinner is served!!

One-Pot Wonder

Soup To Warm The Soul. Chicken Ramon and Vegetarian Tortellini Soup both come together in less than 30 minutes.  Don’t have all the ingredients?  No worries!  Simply put some broth in a pot and throw in what you do have!  Frozen, fresh or leftover veggies, pasta or rice and some protein, if desired.  Simmer it up until everything is cooked to your liking.  

The Rice Cooker’s Got You Covered.  This is one of my favorite quick and easy meal hacks.  Measure the appropriate amounts of rice and water into the cooker.  Follow that with some ground meat/poultry or nuts/seeds and chopped veggies. Turn it on and dinner is already almost done.  If you want to jazz it up even more, use broth instead of water and toss in a dried Thai pepper.  

Hearty Meals, Quick Clean-up.  Thai curry is warm and comforting while bacon asparagus pasta is a real stick-to-your-ribs dish that comes together quickly. Making a stir-fry is another sure-fire dinner plan.  Simply heat a little oil in a saute pan, put any kind of protein and veggie in and cook until everything is done as you like it.  Stir in or serve it over some cooked pasta or rice. 

Think Outside The Box

Many people feel hemmed in about what sorts of foods are for which meals.  I’m here to tell you to stop it.  Seriously.  Stop. 

If it’s good for breakfast, it’s still good when it’s time for dinner.  This breakfast burrito is easy to make and easy to take with you.  Oatmeal is a healthy choice for any meal and clocks in at less than 15 minutes.

A healthy snack can make a fantastic light meal.  Hummus and sugar snap peas, apples with peanut butter, yogurt granola cup…you get the idea. 

Dinner for breakfast?  Why not?  Last night’s baked beans will be great over toast.  That leftover pork chop and roasted carrots will be delicious in some scrambled eggs or an omelet!  Use leftover asparagus to make this delicious breakfast treat!

You Have What It Takes

You don’t have to use any of the suggestions I have listed above but I do hope I’ve given you some food for thought.  You have what it takes to come up with healthy meals in a snap if you open your mind to different possibilities!  

What about you?  What quick fixes have you come up with for mealtime?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!

All My Best, 


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