Meal Ideas for When You’re Feeling Lazy: Insights from Real Home Cooks

We all have those days where the mere thought of cooking up a storm in the kitchen can seem like a daunting task. Whether it’s after a long day at work, a busy day running errands, or simply a lack of motivation, sometimes the idea of standing over a hot stove is just too much to bear.

But just because you’re feeling lazy doesn’t mean you have to resort to takeout or microwaved meals. In fact, some of the most delicious and satisfying meals can be made with minimal effort and ingredients.

To help inspire your next meal on a lazy day, we’ve gathered insights and meal ideas from real home cooks. These are the people who know how to whip up something delicious with just a few ingredients and minimal effort.

1. A Simple Carbonara Dish

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

“Prepare a simple carbonara dish by boiling spaghetti or angel-hair pasta and then draining it. Crack an egg into the pasta and mix it in with bacon bits, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. This dish can be prepared in just five minutes and is incredibly easy to make.”


2. Quick Turkey Marinara Sloppy Joes

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

“To make a delicious and fast meal, I prepare turkey sloppy Joe’s using ground turkey, marinara sauce, and onion powder. Once the turkey mixture is ready, I simply place it onto a deli roll and dinner is done. This is my preferred meal on days when I come home late from work and want something easy and tasty.”


3. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

“I cook cauliflower florets in the air fryer for a few minutes until they become crispy. Then, I add buffalo sauce and dip them into ranch dressing for an extra burst of flavor.”



4. Tomato and Cheese Toast Melts

Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

“Whenever I’m feeling too lazy to cook, I often find myself craving my childhood favorite meal that my mom used to make. I start by taking a few slices of whole wheat bread and topping them with thinly sliced tomatoes, followed by a slice of American cheese. I then heat them up in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted, which only takes around five minutes. This meal always brings me back to my childhood and never fails to satisfy my cravings.”

—Hannah Loewentheil

5. Pesto Chicken Naan Pizza

Photo by Nathalie Jolie on Unsplash

“A delicious meal can be prepared by spreading pesto on store-bought naan, then adding fresh spinach, cooked chicken, and mozzarella cheese. The dish can be finished with a sprinkle of olive oil and then broiled, or even microwaved. The result is a mouth-watering meal that is sure to please.”


6. Taquito Enchilada Bake

Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

“I discovered how to make ‘lazy enchiladas’ from TikTok. The recipe involves baking frozen taquitos in the oven at 400°F for 10 minutes until crispy. After that, canned enchilada sauce is added, followed by a layer of cheese, and then the dish is baked for an additional 10 minutes. The meal can be served with toppings such as shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. This recipe is incredibly simple and easy to make.”


7. Garlic Butter Noodles with Soy Sauce

Photo by Ruth Georgiev on Unsplash

“My favorite and most preferred dish is noodles with a garlicky flavor. I usually begin by cooking egg noodles or even instant ramen, then mix them with melted butter, a few garlic cloves, and a small amount of soy sauce in a frying pan.”


8. Gochujang Veggie Noodles with Fried Egg

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“I purchase Indonesian instant noodles named Mi Goreng and combine them with some sautéed vegetables (whatever I have available) that I cook with gochujang. Lastly, I add a fried egg on top. Whenever I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to think of what to cook, this meal always tastes delicious.”


9. Microwaved Cheesy Quesadilla with Salsa

Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash

“…I make it by placing shredded sharp cheddar and salsa on a flour tortilla. Then I fold it over and microwaved for approximately 30 seconds before serving.”


10. Frozen Scallion Ramen with Egg

Photo by Stephen Bedase on Unsplash

“I love ramen and I’m always on the lookout for a good deal on scallions, which I can usually find for under a dollar. When I do, I buy a bunch of them (like 10 at a time), chop them up into tiny pieces, and stick them in the freezer. That way, when I’m making ramen with an egg, I can easily grab a handful of scallions and throw them in.”


11. Feta and Egg Toast with Fresh Veggies

Photo by Seriously Low Carb on Unsplash

“I love having toast for breakfast and I usually top it with sunny side up eggs, feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers.”


12. Kimchi Egg Skillet with Toasted Bread

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

“I take a generous serving of kimchi and heat it up in a frying pan for a few minutes. I create a small hollow space in the center of the kimchi and add an egg. After covering the pan, I wait until the egg is cooked to my preference. This dish can be served over toast with mayo or as a topping for leftover rice.”


13. Sriracha PB Toast

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

“I know it might sound strange, but I really enjoy eating toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of sriracha sauce. It tastes like spicy peanut sauce on toast and provides a balance of protein, carbs, fat, salt, and a bit of heat.”


14. Emily’s Salmon Rice Bowl

Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

“I really enjoy making Emily Mariko’s popular salmon and rice bowls. If I don’t have fresh or leftover salmon, I substitute it with whatever I have available (usually canned tuna or salmon). I heat up some rice, add flaked salmon to it, and top it with a variety of seasonings, such as soy sauce, Sriracha, or furikake seasoning. To add more texture and flavor, I throw in some additional ingredients like sliced cucumber, scallions, or kimchi, based on what I have in my kitchen. This dish is satisfying, comforting, and most importantly, incredibly easy to make.”

—Hannah Loewentheil

15. Microwave Nachos

Photo by Clyde Gravenberch on Unsplash

“To make myself happy, I prepare nachos by microwaving shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack cheese, and some chopped pickled jalapeños. Sometimes, I bake or toast them, but mostly I rely on the microwave.”


16. Quick & Easy Charcuterie Plate

Photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash

“…I assemble it using any cold cuts, pepperoni, pickles, olives, and cheese that I have in my refrigerator.”


17. Amped-Up Tomato Soup

Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash

“…I keep a can of Campbell’s or a carton of Trader Joe’s creamy tomato soup in my pantry. To make it more satisfying and upscale, I add various ingredients such as cauliflower gnocchi, spinach, croutons, and pesto. It’s especially cozy during winter.

—Hannah Loewentheil

18. Classic Shaker Cheese Spaghetti

Photo by GoodEats YQR on Unsplash

“When I want to make a simple pasta dish, I cook some noodles and then toss them in melted butter or olive oil, and sprinkle some powdered Parmesan cheese on top. This recipe has been a family favorite since I was a kid and we lovingly refer to it as “shaker cheese spaghetti.”


19. An English Muffin Tuna Melt 

Photo by Ignat Kushanrev on Unsplash

“…I usually have canned tuna, mayo, and bread to toast with cheese on top.”


20. Buttered Baked Beans on Toast

Photo by Nik on Unsplash

“When I’m alone and craving for a quick and effortless meal, I prepare baked beans and put them on toast. I add some butter to the beans while heating and sprinkle ground white pepper on top after cooking. It tastes really amazing.”


21. Fridge Clean-Out Tacos

Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

“Tacos. Use whatever ingredients I have available in my fridge or freezer. I always have corn tortillas on hand for this purpose. When I haven’t been able to go grocery shopping, I make scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and add some salsa. Other times, I heat up fish sticks and combine them with whatever leafy greens I have. In my opinion, if you have tortillas and some kind of protein, you can create a satisfying meal.”

—Hannah Loewentheil

Final Thoughts:

Feeling lazy doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to resort to takeout or pre-packaged meals. As the home cooks above have shown, you can still prepare a delicious and satisfying meal with minimal effort and ingredients. From quick pasta dishes to simple toast ideas, there are countless ways to make a delicious meal that will satisfy your cravings without spending hours in the kitchen. These meal ideas also demonstrate the importance of creativity and resourcefulness in cooking. 

By utilizing what you already have in your pantry or fridge, you can whip up a meal that is both tasty and nutritious. So the next time you’re feeling too lazy to cook, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of these ideas or come up with your own lazy meal creation. You might just surprise yourself with how delicious your food can be even with minimal effort.

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