25 Recipes for When You Don't Feel Like Cooking

What do you cook when you just can't? That is, when you can't handle doing much of anything—whether that's thinking, watching the news, scrolling through Facebook, or just following an elaborate recipe with perhaps one too many steps and ingredients.

These 25 recipes are for when you can't: ones that require little attention after they're on the stovetop, in the slow-cooker, or in the oven, or have so few ingredients they come together without much thought.

We know, sometimes everything is too much. These aren't. We promise.

Just let it go, low and slow

Things that roast forever (so you can forget about them)

Fewer ingredients, Ipso Facto less time

What do you make when you don't want to think about cooking? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • aimi
  • Kimberley Hodgdon Landsman
    Kimberley Hodgdon Landsman
  • Windischgirl
  • Marylou Kormann
    Marylou Kormann
  • kareema
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


aimi May 13, 2017
this is my standby, always have all the ingredients on hand, the only real work is grating the cheese, and it tastes like it took hours..
Kimberley H. February 28, 2017
How exciting! A list of recipes to make when I don't feel like cooking? And then I pull up the list, to find that every single recipe is based on a non-food item. You have a list of recipes heavy on animal cruelty period made with non-food items such as body parts. Gross. And certainly not easy!
Meg H. July 8, 2018
But let me guess; There’s nothing “gross” about the idea of human (baby) *body parts* aka abortion. Am I right?
Kimberley H. February 28, 2017
How exciting a list of all kinds of recipes to make when I don't feel like cooking? And then I pull up the list and not one of them is made from food! They're all made from the bodies of someone else. Not food. And certainly not easy...
Windischgirl February 11, 2017
"Just can't" meals--if there are no leftovers-- include scrambled eggs with homemade bread; avocado toast; a microwaved sweet potato topped with veggies (mushrooms, red pepper, broc) and cheese; limas or butter beans, cooked in the micro, seasoned with lemon juice and soy sauce and topped with cheese; or cheese crackers, crudités, and a glass of wine if it's been especially rough.
I start a new job next week, reducing my commute from an hour to about 20 minutes , so I may be a little more amenable to actually cooking during the week. I just couldn't bring myself to start dinner at 8 pm.
Marylou K. February 10, 2017
Boot Junky, I wait till the weekend to make these slow cooked meals. Wonderful to share with friends and family and then have left-overs for the week to come.
kareema February 10, 2017
Personally, I'll be glad when people don't feel the need to put salt on *everything*. It's getting monotonous.
arcane54 February 10, 2017
My I'm tired and hungry dinners range from Chicken piccata to okonomiyaki to pasta with butter and Parmesan to baked salmon and often - just buttered popcorn. Cooking is my de-stresser and a way I care for myself. Sometimes all I need is a bowl of popcorn... really.
Hazel February 9, 2017
Lovely recipes. After work I think the most I could do is the scrambled egg or toasted sandwiches ones. One meal I can do when tired as well is French toast; slow cooker recipes are good if you can anticipate that you're going to get home tired and can prepare it all the night before if you have a day off or feel energetic. I've even done lasagne in the slow cooker before which was a real treat, and the smell was gorgeous when I got home. It's handy too to do an extra meal the day before to just microwave.
bookjunky February 8, 2017
I was so disappointed in this list I almost wept. Few if any are suitable for people who truly can't face a cooking project for reasons of health or exhaustion or lack of time.
Riddley G. February 8, 2017
Aw, I'm so sorry to hear you almost wept! That's not the intention of this post. Perhaps you'd be more interested in something like this:
Laura H. February 6, 2017
What...was the threshold for this again? Because I'm pretty sure if it isn't less than five ingredients (that I have not had to chop or dice or brown or whistle in the general direction of...) , its more than my "just can't" threshold can withstand.
bookjunky February 8, 2017
Thank you!
caninechef February 6, 2017
I love these articles that revisit many recipes, they remind me of recipes that piqued my interest but I never got around to making or that I totally missed the first time around. However you obviously have a much higher activity level when you don't feel like cooking than I do; including recipes with 25 ingredients, browning pounds if meat, hours of braising, and recipes that require starting the preparation for the next days meal. I would hate to have to follow in your shoes when you actually want to cook.
Nan R. February 6, 2017
My thoughts exactly. Not wanting to cook means opening a can of beans, adding some pre-washed spinach, maybe some jarred roasted red peppers or artichokes, and a simple vinaigrette.
Riddley G. February 6, 2017
Thank you both for sharing! I'm glad we have different ideas of what "not wanting to cook" means. It opens up great discussion! Thanks again.
Steven W. February 7, 2017
In this case it means not having to stand there for two hours fussing over an involved recipe...these are great ideas, and you can prep away if you want.
tia February 10, 2017
Oh god, no kidding. I have had an entire week of "just can't." Meals, such as they are, have been take-out from near my office, a protein bar, frozen dinners from my emergency stash, a glass of milk, etc. Tonight I'm going to get crazy and have pasta with butter and parm and some fried eggs.
Outi March 1, 2017
So true!
Outi March 1, 2017
Responding to To Nan Rogers Cifani's comment