Dinners | Meals

Tired of Cooking? 30+ Quick and Easy Meals to Make

Tired of Cooking? Me too!

Sometimes I feel too tired to cook and wish I had a list of easy meals to make. It would be great if most of those ingredients were already in my pantry! Or, if I could at least plan ahead and buy those items so I’d be ready when cooking fatigue inevitably sets in. With quarantine cooking, you just never know what’ll happen to your shopping list, so it’s also good to be able to pivot your meal plan without stressing over it.

If you are tired of cooking dinner every night, it could be time for a change. Do you have a spouse, roommate, or older child willing to help offset the burden of cooking many meals every week? If not, you are definitely not alone.

Tired of Cooking?! Try these tips for easy meals. Like this Leftover Meatloaf with elbow noodles and corn.
Tired of Cooking?! Try these tips for easy meals. Like this Leftover Meatloaf with elbow noodles and corn.

Quarantine Cooking

Many of us started out the pandemic happy and excited to cook. Some jumped on the sourdough starter bandwagon. Others tried new recipes or revived old family favorites. Lots of us embraced the magic of the InstantPot. Many turned to baking for comfort food to get us through these very trying and uncertain times.

We cooked. And we baked. And we tried new recipes, went back to old ones. Here we are, not sure what to make. Actually, just really tired of cooking three meals a day during this perpetual quarantine.

Quarantine cooking is no joke. Your grocery order rarely matches what you actually get as lots of stuff gets sold out. You may find it tough to come by baking yeast, flour, butter, eggs, meat, frozen vegetables, and so many other critical ingredients. This can shift that feeling of tired of cooking to tired of thinking. Still, you can creatively cook lots of easy meals without stressing over what to make.

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What to Do When You’re Too Tired to Cook

When I find myself tired of cooking everyday, I try to do one of a few things…

  • Create a meal plan. If you plan ahead, you will find it less exhausting to cook dinner each day.
  • Make something quick and easy for dinner. Every meal doesn’t have to be a five-star feast. (I need to remind myself sometimes.)
  • Rely on the freezer to solve the problem (hopefully). A meal of fish sticks or dino nuggets here and there is not going to hurt anyone.
  • Muscle through it and make something that will have a lot of leftovers. At least I can minimize future situations where I am too tired to cook after work or wrangling the kids all day.

Some nights I do feel too tired to cook dinner. I literally feel the energy seeping out of my body down to the floor as soon as I finally have dinner on the table and sit down in my chair.

I need to sleep more.

I need to scale back some things.

Life is too crazy and I’m just not focused on optimizing things as much as I could be.

And I’m tired. Of cooking. Of picking up messes. Of covid. Of the rinse-wash-repeat routine of housework. Of mom guilt and regret.

And, I have a feeling I’m not alone.

There’s hope for us, though! I have pulled together all these quick and easy meals to make when you’re too tired to make food. Check them out and see what works for your family!

Homemade Lasagna pan with shredded cheese on top - great for leftovers!

Meals to Make When You’re Too Tired to Cook

When you have a case of cooking fatigue, it’s natural to want to procrastinate. Not to worry – this list offers lots of easy dinner ideas. Try these easy meals to make when you’re just plain sick of cooking.

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Easy Crock Pot Meals

Sometimes the easiest thing is to do the food prep before you truly feel tired. A good crock pot is a lifesaver on days like this. Try these easy meals for crock pots when you’re tired of cooking.

  1. Ham and Crushed Pineapple – Place a ham roast in your crock pot. Open a can of crushed pineapple and dump it on top. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  2. Pulled Pork – Place pork roast in crock pot. Mix up McCormick Pulled Pork seasoning packet with recipe ingredients—Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown Sugar, and Ketchup. Cook on low in crock pot for 6-8 hours and then shred pork with two forks. Remove bone and return to crock pot. Serve on rolls with fries or chips and pickles!
  3. Crock Pot Turkey Breast – Place boneless turkey breast in crock pot. Drizzle with olive oil and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with microwave Idahoan mashed potatoes and fresh or frozen green beans. Don’t forget the crescent rolls!
  4. Fiesta Chicken – Put several boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot. Mix a McCormick Fiesta Chicken seasoning packet with the called-for ingredients, including whole corn kernels, black beans, and diced tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with white rice or use Tostitos scoops for dipping.
    McCormick Fiesta Chicken with Large Measuring Cup of Black Beans, Corn, and Diced Tomatoes
  5. Pot Roast – Place beef roast in crock pot along with red potatoes and carrot chunks. Add a cup of red wine, 3 cups of beef broth, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

If you’re in a rush, most dishes translate well to your InstantPot or equivalent pressure cooker, as well!

Cooking Hacks to Double Your Meals

Sometimes beating the cooking fatigue comes down to working smarter rather than harder. At times when I’m truly tired of cooking, I don’t necessarily feel like making a big meal, but it’s worth it when it’s actually TWO meals. As an added bonus, I find some meals are ALMOST as quick and easy to double as just making a single batch.

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My favorite recipes to double up include:

  1. Meatloaf – Mix ground beef, eggs, ketchup, chopped onions, and oatmeal together. Form into two loaves. Place one in a freezer-safe zipper seal bag. Place the other in your favorite baking pan and cook at 350 for about 50 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. The second meatloaf will be just as delicious the next time you want an easy meal!
  2. Stromboli – Use my favorite – Triple Crown Breakfast Stromboli recipe – and choose any fillings you wish. Stromboli is relatively easy and tastes delicious as leftovers all week long for any meal. You can also freeze slices for a short time for an easy future meal.
  3. Meatballs – Mix ground beef, minced garlic, shredded parmesan cheese, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs. Form meatballs of desired size. For golf ball sized meatballs, I cook them for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Make a large batch and freeze half in a zip-top gallon storage bag. Cook the rest in a crock pot of sauce on low for 8 hours.
  4. Macaroni and Cheese – Make up a big batch of macaroni and cheese and freeze some. You can make your freezer batch in muffin tins for personal sized mac and cheese bites or freeze an aluminum foil pan for easy future cooking. We love adding bacon bits and topping ours with panko breadcrumbs for that extra crunch!
  5. Soup (Any Kind!) – From split pea to chicken noodle, beef vegetable and beyond, you will love how easily soup freezes and reheats! I love using screw-top plastic jars to freeze my soup for a future meal. It’s especially great to have some chicken noodle soup available in case you’re ever feeling under the weather. Soup is super easy to make when you’re tired of cooking and just need a break!

Soup comes together great from leftovers! A super easy meal when you're sick of cooking. Chicken Noodle Soup in a red mug

Easy Ways to Reinvent Your Leftovers

But I’m so tired of cooking, you might be thinking. I hear you! Maybe skip those big double-dippers if you’re too exhausted. Sometimes the simplest plan is to make a big roast of some sort and then live off the leftovers. If you have something like that in your fridge, you’ve hit the meal prep jackpot!

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I love reinventing leftovers as it allows me to be creative in the kitchen without wasting food or time. Try these fun and tasty ways to repurpose your leftovers!

  1. Sandwiches – Chicken parm on a bun, lunch meat and cheese, leftover turkey or ham sandwich, breakfast sandwich – the possibilities are endless for easy sandwich meals! Sandwiches are the poster food for those of us who are too tired of cooking to make a big time meal. (Well, sandwiches and cereal!)
    Homemade Meatball Sandwich on a Roll with Provolone -Sandwiches are an Easy Meal from leftovers when you're exhausted
  2. OmeletsBreakfast for dinner is huge in our house! Leftover chicken, turkey, ham, sausage, shrimp, steak – just about any meat works wonderfully in an omelet.
  3. Stromboli – As mentioned earlier, you can add whatever you want to the inside of your Stromboli. We love a good chicken, bacon and cheddar or turkey, bacon and cheddar Stromboli! It also works well with leftover cheesesteak meat or even a meat lover’s style.
  4. Lasagna – My dad makes his lasagna this wonderful way that I love. It has sausage, meatballs, and pork all inside – it truly is a meat lover’s lasagna. You don’t have to do it that way – God knows it takes him all day – but remember you can get creative with your leftovers and your pasta dishes!
  5. Stir-Fry – Toss together some leftover chicken or beef and some fresh veggies for a healthy easy meal that comes together in a flash. I just add a little butter and olive oil and some seasoning to tie it all together.
  6. Quesadillas – Leftovers work so well inside two tortillas! You can make easy meals of quesadillas from shredded cheese and meat between two tortillas on a frying pan. We love cooking ours on the grill pan for those fancy grill marks and the extra crisp bites!
    Super Easy Meal when you're tired of cooking - Quesadillas, Three steak and cheese quesadilla triangles on a green plate
  7. Soup – Finally, soup is a fantastic way to use up leftovers! I learned working in restaurants as a teenager that leftover meats and veggies needing to be used up often went into the soups. Chicken noodle comes beautifully from a roasted chicken or even rotisserie. Split pea with ham is the #1 way to use up the remaining scraps on the hambone. Even turkey soup is worth a shot after a big roast turkey dinner.

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Fast and Easy Meals to Make When You’re Exhausted

When you’re tired of cooking, sometimes your brain is tired of thinking, too. If that’s the case, I hope this list will help. Try these easy dinner ideas for a quick turnaround and less mess.

Fancy Homemade Grilled Cheese Featuring Sliced Ham or Turkey

  1. “Fancy” Grilled Cheese Sandwiches & Soup – Easy and comforting!
  2. Breakfast for Dinner – This is my go-to meal almost anytime I don’t know what to make.
  3. Stir-Fry – Throw everything into the same wok or pan and cook! Sautee your meats with a little butter or olive oil and some seasoning. Then steam your veggies right on top. Toss to cook evenly. If you want to serve it over rice or noodles, you may need that second pot.
  4. Pasta with Meat Sauce – Another easy meal that’s ready in a snap, enjoy pasta with meat sauce – a quick turnaround and crowd-pleaser.
  5. Tacos – Another quick meal, tacos are fast and fun for the family. Your kids can fill them with whatever toppings they want, making it a good choice for picky eaters.
  6. Frozen Meals – There’s no shame in giving yourself a pseudo night off from making involved dinners. When you’re tired of cooking, try these easy meal winners:

    Try this Fishstick House with a French Fry Roof - so easy and fun! Tired mama = happy kids
    Try this Fish Stick House with a French Fry Roof – so easy and fun! Tired mama = happy kids

    • Chicken Voila
    • Chicken Cordon Bleu
    • Fish Sticks
    • Chicken Nuggets
    • Chicken Tenders and Fries
    • Taquitos
    • Potpie
    • Lasagna
    • Frozen Pizza
    • TV Dinners

I hope you find some of these meal suggestions helpful for those nights when you are out of time or really tired of cooking.

If you aren’t actually tired of cooking, but just tired of cooking the same meals, be sure to check out my other post, 50+ Delicious Meals Kids Will Eat. I am sure you will find at least something new and different to try!

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