No-Cook Dinner Ideas

No-Cook Dinner Ideas

We could all use a few more fast dinner ideas, and these are the fastest of the fast. Read on for our 10 favorite meals that don’t require cooking — some are even meals that don’t need to be heated at all! These are the absolute easiest meals to make at home, and we’ll also tell you what to buy so last-minute dinners will never catch you off-guard.

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • June 15, 2021

Some nights, the thought of turning on a burner is exhausting, and the idea of chopping makes you want to cry, no onions required. 

It’s for times like those that we put together this list. These 10 super-easy meals require no cooking at all — at most, they may need a quick reheating in the microwave — and there’s no chopping involved either. They’re the simplest of the simple. For the days when you’re tempted to eat ice cream for dinner, straight out of the carton, these meals are almost as quick and easy, and will leave you feeling significantly more satisfied.

This list is part of our Insurance Meals Series; click here to read more about what insurance meals are and how to use them as part of your weekly meal plan.

10 No-Cook Dinner Ideas

1. Canned / Boxed Soup + Avocado Toast

Heat up soup in the microwave, and serve it with a side of toast with mashed avocado. This makes for an especially pleasurable meal if you grab a loaf of fresh bread from your neighborhood bakery.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with your favorite canned or boxed soups.
  • Keep sliced bread in the freezer.
  • Ripe avocados will stay good for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Avocado halves or mashed avocado can also be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months; squeeze some lemon juice on top and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before freezing.

2. Packaged Frozen Meal + Salad

While your meal is heating, make a simple side salad, or rinse some berries for a side. For example, top butter lettuce with shaved parmesan cheese and your favorite bottled salad dressing. We’re also partial to spinach with dried cranberries, shredded romaine lettuce with cherry tomatoes, or spring mix with a quarter of an avocado and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your freezer stocked with your favorite packaged frozen dinners (or make your own).
  • Have your favorite bottled salad dressings on hand.
  • Add an extra bag of greens and your favorite salad toppers to your weekly groceries. (If you don’t need to use your insurance meal, leftover greens can be frozen for smoothies.)

3. Veggie “Fried” Rice

Microwave a package of instant rice with a cup of small-cut frozen veggies from a mix that includes peas and carrots. For added protein, sprinkle on some canned garbanzos or cashews. Drizzle with any bottled Asian-style sauce, or just squeeze some sriracha on top.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Stock your pantry with instant rice, canned garbanzos, cashews, Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce), and a bottle of your favorite Asian-style sauce.
  • Keep a bag of small-cut frozen veggies in the freezer.

4. Jazzed-Up Instant Ramen

Thaw frozen veggies (any stir-fry or Normandy blend works well) and frozen shelled edamame in the microwave, and add them to instant ramen heated in the microwave. If you have a leftover hardboiled egg, slice it up and put it on top. You can also chop deli meat and use it to top ramen.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with instant ramen.
  • Keep a stir-fry or Normandy veggie blend in your freezer, as well as frozen edamame.
  • You could also freeze leftover cooked veggies during the week for later use, and deli meat also freezes well.
  • Make a batch of hardboiled eggs over the weekend so that you always have a quick, ready-to-eat protein on hand.

5. Rotisserie Chicken + Veggie Sticks

Rotisserie chicken is our #1 shortcut ingredient! Serve it piping hot with carrot, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, or jicama sticks, pita bread, and hummus. Alternately, enjoy it alongside any leftover veggies and leftover cooked grains, such as rice, barley, or couscous.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Buy pre-cut veggie sticks with your weekly groceries, or cut your own during your weekly meal prep. (Use them for snacks if you don’t need your insurance meal!)
  • Hummus can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container.
  • Rotisserie chicken can be picked up fresh and hot from the store, or keep shredded rotisserie chicken on hand in the freezer.

6. Bulked-Up Salad Kit

Salad kits include shredded lettuce and/or cabbage as a base, plus a dressing packet and some toppings, such as seeds or nuts, tortilla crumbles, freeze-dried veggies, or cheese, making them hands-down one of the easiest ways to eat a fresh, healthy meal with no prep. Assemble your salad and go, or make it a heartier meal by adding canned beans, cherry tomatoes, thawed frozen corn, thawed frozen shelled edamame, sunflower seeds, nuts, or cheese crumbles.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Buy a salad kit (or kits) with your weekly grocery shopping; look for ones that won’t expire for at least a week or 2. (If you don’t use your insurance meal, these kits can be worked into the next week’s lunches.)
  • Think ahead about how you’d like to bulk up your kit so you can keep your pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with your favorite salad toppings.

7. Charcuterie Board

Assemble 4 to 5 of the following on a plate: Grapes, nuts, crackers, pre-sliced cheese, deli meat, cured meat, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, veggie sticks, hummus, pita crisps, popcorn. For more charcuterie board ideas and a wealth of other fun snacks, check out our “100 Snack Ideas” ebook!

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with popcorn, pita crisps, nuts, and crackers, and be sure to buy some extra no-prep fruits and veggies with your weekly shopping (use them for snacks if you don’t need your insurance meal!).
  • Keep sliced cheese, deli meat, or cured meats on hand in the fridge.
  • Deli meat can be frozen, but cheese and cured meats don’t freeze well.

8. PB&J + Apple with Cheddar

Make a peanut butter (or nut butter) and jelly sandwich, and serve with an apple and cheddar slices. Protein, fiber, carbs – check!

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your favorite peanut butter or nut butter on hand in the pantry.
  • Make sure there’s a jar of jam or jelly in the fridge.
  • Sliced bread can be frozen.
  • Apples and sliced cheddar stay good in the fridge for several weeks.

9. Cereal

Get your breakfast-for-dinner on with a bowl of cereal and a banana. Really? Yep. Some nights will just beg for this. (You know those nights.)

But you can always turn it into a heartier meal by sprinkling nuts on top of the cereal and serving with a side of cottage cheese, yogurt, or smear nut butter on banana slices for protein. Opt for whole grain cereals for less sugar and a more balanced meal.

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep a box of your favorite cereal and some nuts or nut butter in the pantry.
  • Be sure to buy bananas with your weekly grocery shopping. (Alternatively, freeze peeled bananas in pre-portioned smoothie packs with some greens, other fruit, and nut butter, and serve your cereal with a smoothie instead of a banana.)
  • Keep cottage cheese or yogurt on hand in the fridge.

10. Frozen Burrito + Chips and Guac / Salsa

Your favorite frozen burrito can be turned into a full meal by pairing it with tortilla chips and guacamole and/or salsa. Although this may not seem like a very healthy meal, it’s not terrible: Tortilla chips are whole grain, and guacamole and salsa add veggies. Alternatively, skip the chips and dip the burrito directly into the salsa or guac — or try with carrot or celery sticks. Better yet, make homemade burritos for the freezer on a less busy day, and you’ll always have a quick meal ready for you!

PLAN FOR IT:

  • Keep your favorite frozen burritos in the freezer.
  • Keep a jar of unopened salsa in the pantry. Opened salsa lasts about 2 to 4 weeks in the fridge.
  • Make or buy guacamole in advance and freeze it for 3 to 4 months in an airtight container or freezer bag.

If these easy dinner ideas are useful to you, stay tuned for more helpful content and how-to articles by signing up for our weekly email below. Or sign up for a free 14-day trial of our meal plan service for a variety of other delicious, fresh, and healthy dinner recipes!

Get our Meal Plans

The convenience of meal kits without the waste

Overwhelmed?

Try our award winning meal plan service for free

Share the love!

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

How can we help you in the kitchen?

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter

Cancel

Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.