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Yeah…Immaeatthat

Aug 19

What we eat when we need a break from meal planning/cooking.

Lately I’ve been tired of cooking, so I wanted to share how Andrew and I approach weeks when we’re tired of getting food on the table. I think being a healthy eater and competent eater means being able to care more or less about food each week based on available energy levels and it not affecting one’s self worth to eat differently. This is to be able to notice if you’re depleted and know that means you need to do x with food that week to help yourself out. It goes without saying, that even if one’s appetite is low or they are tired of cooking, meals and snacks must still be eaten.

We ended up grocery shopping at Target this week, which we rarely do. We were there to buy some baby gates for the house to keep the girls out of our front room that has become Andrew’s office/my piano room/his guitar room. It’s been really nice to have one room in the house that doesn’t get untidied throughout the day. On the days of the week I’m home with the girls, if I want a clean space I can step in there and it’s like a breath of fresh air. That was a tangent. Anyways, we were at Target and decided to get our food there and I noticed a pattern for our meal prep when we don’t feel like putting a lot of effort into food for the week. Typically I like more elaborate meals with a lot of components (that’s why I love Chipotle and How Sweet Eats Recipes), but some weeks I really don’t want to think about food and instead just want to get food on the table. I like putting effort and thought into food, it’s something I somewhat enjoy, if you don’t you may eat like the below every week…which is fine! To each their own. My intention in sharing this post is to show that flexibility with food is good and necessary to care for yourself well. Here’s what we do:

  1. Get something sizable that’s frozen.
  2. Ordering some large takeout thing that lasts for multiple meals.
  3. Make a protein and something fresh.

Get something sizable that’s frozen.

This week Andrew picked out a frozen lasagna and I grabbed a few bags of steamer vegetables. This meal lasted us for a couple lunches and dinners.

Ordering some large takeout thing that lasts for multiple meals.

We have two go-to’s when we want our takeout to last awhile.

The first is a deal called La Familia from Fajita Pete’s. It comes with chicken fajitas, flautas, flour tortillas, beans, rice, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, queso (which Jo has affectionately named “cheese soup”), salsa, chips, & sopapillas.

Our other favorite option is getting a couple entrees and sides from Rice Box (my favorite Chinese-American takeout place). Their tofu is the best. It’s breaded & fried and everything I want my tofu to taste like. Their lo mein noodles are also excellent and ever since one of the characters on Word Party talked about noodles, Jo is all about them.

Oh, and a large pizza from somewhere that has a substantial crust (like Mellow Mushroom (as opposed to thinner crusted pizza that wouldn’t last nearly as long) works too.

Make a protein and something fresh.

In the midst of takeout and frozen meals I typically start craving something fresh, this week that fresh craving was satisfied by making a batch of nice & lemony tzatziki. We also had a pork shoulder that needed to be cooked, so I tossed that in the crock-pot one morning. We’ll have this with whatever we have on hand: rice, tomatoes, feta, etc. and now I’m thinking it would’ve been nice to have this meal with some type of veggie slaw so I may pop into the grocery store if I get a chance. Actually we have a bunch of zucchini in the fridge so I might see if their are any zucchini slaw recipes out there that look good.

Do you have any go-to meals/snacks when you don’t feel like cooking?

17 comments on “What we eat when we need a break from meal planning/cooking.”

  1. I always try to have something like pulled pork in the freezer, so I can always pull that out for taco dip bowls with tortilla chips or just pulled pork sandwhiches with salad. I also have instituted a raccoon night twice a week, which basicall means we scrounge around and eat whatever we have that sounds good. I have a just-turned-one-year-old, so for him now it’s whatever veg, fruit, protein I have hanging around. In the future, maybe he wants cereal and milk. And that’s okay! I felt guilty at first, but right now it saves my sanity not having to cook twice a week, even though meal planning and cooking is usually something I enjoy.

  2. My go to brainless meal is tacos. I guess that’s kind of a lot of little bowls of toppings to prep, but it counts as super easy in my mind because we have them so often that they take zero brainpower. And no one complains about them (with three little kids, not many meals do that). Second on the list is probably smoked sausage, because I can throw it in the pan, cook a starch and a frozen veg, and have supper that everyone eats without complaining on the table in 20 minutes. I usually add a can of chickpeas to the pan with the sausage because I actually don’t love sausage. 

  3. One of our go-to “i don’t feel like cooking” meals (besides takeout) is a bag of Alexia brand frozen sweet potato tots (SO good!) + chicken sausages that I cook on a pan for 7 minutes…Might even get crazy and make a box of couscous (boil water, add couscous, done in 5 minutes). It’s all very quick and simple and we love it, my 11-month-old included

  4. A good frozen pizza & salad stays on our rotation each week because it takes less thought out of meal planning! I love this post. We are getting ready to move soon and I know this post will be helpful for me when we do!

    Did you end up trying that tofu recipe a couple weeks back you posted about? I am going to try it this week!

  5. One of my favorite podcasters, Kendra Adachi (The Lazy Genius) says “Plan your hotdogs.” Like, lean into that convenience meal every once in a while and don’t feel guilty that you’re “settling.” She also says it doesn’t have to be hotdogs, but “find what your hotdog is.”

    One of my easy meals we can keep in the pantry is rice and beans — canned black beans heated with some spices (garlic, salt, cumin), rice in the rice cooker, dressed up with frozen avocado and mango chunks (defrosted). A pantry meal that still feels fresh because of the frozen produce.

  6. Love this approach and I think it is super helpful especially when you have babies/kids and maybe not as much energy to put into meal prep! My go to for when I don’t want to cook is a frozen meal or something in the crockpot that will last several days, usually just chicken + a jar of sauce that I can serve over rice! 

  7. I love this approach! Lately, we’ve really stocked up on frozen entrees for lunch (to be enjoyed along with sides to make them more filling), frozen pizza, rotisserie chicken, rice pouches or cups for quick cooking, frozen veg medleys, bean “power” bowls, salads with tuna pouches, etc. I’ve been in a phase where cooking isn’t as fun as it once was, but I’ve worked to not judge that. Instead, I’ve focused on making meals that we can really enjoy but that won’t take long to make. I always love your ideas. They are so approachable and inspiring.

  8. Our favorite, easy go-to is sweet potato quesadillas! We pretty much always have tortillas, sweet potatoes, and cheese at the house. If we have leftover meat, I’ll throw that in as well. Just nuke your sweet potato in the microwave until soft and mash on one side of the tortilla and then add your cheese. We enjoy topping them with plain greek yogurt, avocado, or salsa (all staples at our house as well). They’re SO yummy and filling…and easy!

  9. Our easiest meals: refried bean tostadas, nachos with cheese and black beans, spaghetti and jarred sauce (bonus if we have a bagged salad), rotisserie chicken with bagged salad and Hawaiian rolls.

  10. Love this post! I, too, have been tired of cooking even though I enjoy it- I guess months of staying at home will do that to you. I try to keep a well-stocked freezer for weeks I don’t want anything too complicated, and I also have found that I don’t necessarily need a perfect meal where each part “goes” together. AKA it’s fine to just have some random things put together on a plate rather than a theme.

    A few things I like to keep in the freezer-
    – Chicken noodle soup + some type of bread (beer bread, sourdough, etc.)
    – Crockpot shredded chicken ready to be tossed with BBQ sauce, Soyaki, pesto, etc.
    – Frozen rice
    – Frozen veggies

    A few default meals when I can’t think of anything:
    – Baked potato + salad kit (jazz up the potato with BBQ sauce, chicken, beans, whatever if needed)
    – Hummus + naan + whatever fruit needs eating + veggies (a tomato with salt, pepper, and EVOO is really good and easy!)
    – Something tex-mex. We also have tortillas, cheese, some kind of beans or protein + whatever veggies.

  11. We always keep around a couple boxes of mac & cheese for “I don’t feel like cooking” days! A go-to meal is boxed mac & cheese, canned collard greens, and a can of baked beans. Gets the job done!

    • Haha, we just bought a few boxes of Annie’s mac and cheese to keep in the pantry, and my husband was so excited to make some for lunch today. He likes to add some frozen veggies, so it’s a complete meal, right?!

  12. I go through these phases too, esp now that i am home all the time. cooking for me is joyful but when it gets tiresome, i fix egg-based things, do a takeout, or grab something from central market.

  13. For us it’s frozen pizza and salad, once a week right now. Minimal-cooking meals are pasta and vegetables cooked quickly in a skillet, or frozen pierogies with cabbage and onions. Trying to take this approach with lunches for work, too. I have been packing sandwiches, cut up fruit and veggies, and cheese sticks instead of doing a cooked meal prep. I have an infant and just went back to work, so easy is a priority!

  14. I keep a running list tacked the fridge of what I refer to as “freezer gold,” a.k.a. single servings of various dishes that we ended up freezing for whatever reason. Whenever we’re fed up with cooking ,we’ll have a fend-for-yourself night where you get to mine the freezer for the “gold” of your choosing (the other night I heating up collards, cornbread, and sausage). It’s not always pretty, but it gets people fed. Side note: Labeling is key, unless you really just like to live on the edge.

  15. Each Friday night is an easy night in my home! I keep premade burger patties in the freezer as well as breaded fish fillets and either frozen pizza or I’ll do homemade pizza dough since it comes together easily in the bread machine and it’s easy to assemble. Add either slaw or a salad (and tots/fries if having fish or burgers) and everyone is happy. It makes menu planning easy since I know it’ll be one of those couple things that I always keep on hand. Then we always do a family movie Friday nights so it feels special all around! 

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