Skip To Content
  • Viral badge
Updated on Jul 18, 2020. Posted on Jul 14, 2020

11 Meals I Make On Repeat When I'm Not In The Mood To Cook

These satisfying yet simple meals come together in about 15 minutes.

I absolutely love to cook, but even I have those days when I'm feeling either too tired or lazy or distracted to prepare a well-planned out meal. Here are my absolute favorite no-fuss meals that I can whip up in no time, and they always hit the spot.

1. Upgraded Boxed Mac 'n' Cheese

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

On its own, boxed mac 'n' cheese feels like junk food, but jazzed up with a few ingredients from your fridge or pantry and it suddenly tastes gourmet. I take my favorite boxed mac 'n' cheese (like Annie's white cheddar) and add pretty much whatever works together in my fridge like some leftover chicken, roasted veggies, and extra cheese. Here are six delicious mac 'n' cheese combinations you can try at home.

2. Shakshuka

A fork cutting into a runny baked egg stewed in tomato sauce with herbs and feta cheese.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Shakshuka — baked eggs in tomato sauce — is one of those meals that you can eat literally any time of day, and I happen to be a major fan of eggs for dinner. I almost always have eggs and some sort of canned tomatoes or tomato sauce, which makes up the bulk of this dish. Depending on what's in my fridge, I'll add anything like chopped onion, garlic, peppers, eggplant, chickpeas, or feta cheese to make it a more complete meal, plus some spices like paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Here's a recipe for easy shakshuka.

3. A Poke Bowl Featuring Whatever's In My Fridge

A poke bowl with diced tuna, salmon, sesame noodles, and lots of chopped vegetables over rice and lettuce.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

The best thing about poke is that it's so versatile and you can make it with whatever you have. And of course, most people probably don't have sushi grade fish on hand, but you don't need it! I often make poke bowls with canned tuna, smoked salmon, shrimp from my freezer, or even with watermelon. I make my base rice, lettuce, or zucchini noodles depending on what I have and what I'm in the mood for, and then I just load up my bowl with whatever ingredients I have from avocado and radish to sliced cucumber and red onion. I drizzle it with a little soy sauce and sesame oil or mayo and Sriracha and voilà: a 10-minute poke bowl. Get the recipe for a smoked salmon sushi bowl here.

4. Fancy Toast

My hands holding a piece of toast topped with crab meat, avocado, capers, and red pepper flakes.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Once upon a time, toast was a bland breakfast side that was usually topped with butter or jam. Today, topped with the right ingredients, toast can be a seriously gourmet meal, and I am SO on board with that. I usually have some homemade sourdough in my freezer, which I use as a base for my dinner toasts, but of course you can use whatever kind of bread you have on hand. I take a look in my freezer and think up the best possible combination whether it's hummus and a ton of chopped veggies, sliced deli turkey, cranberry sauce, and brie, or my favorite combo, lump crab meat, avocado, and capers with lemony mayo. The options are limitless, which is what makes fancy toast one of my favorite lazy meals. Here's a list of open-faced toast recipes to try at home.

5. Naan Pizza

A piece of naan topped with prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan cheese.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

When I'm feeling ambitious, there's truly nothing I love more than homemade pizza. But sometimes I don't have the time or energy for making pizza from scratch. Rather than reach for the frozen stuff or order in, I love making naan pizza. I start with store-bought naan and top it with anything from pesto, arugula and prosciutto to tomato sauce, mozzarella, and red pepper flakes. It takes about five minutes for the cheese to melt in the oven so you can really whip up this meal in no time. Here are a bunch of tasty combos to try on your next naan pizza.

6. Chicken and Tortellini Soup

A bowl of chicken broth with tortellini, carrots, celery, and chicken.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Growing up I basically lived off the chicken tortellini soup from a local pizzeria, and while I was away at college I realized I could easily replicate their recipe with just a few ingredients: chicken broth, leftover or rotisserie chicken, carrots, celery, onion, and store-bought tortellini. Starting with pre-made chicken drastically cuts down the cooking time and allows me to whip up this comforting soup in about 10 minutes. I just boil the veggies in chicken broth then add the cheese tortellini and chicken. Season it with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil and it's one of the coziest meals you can make in 20 minutes. Get the recipe for easy chicken tortellini soup here.

7. Cheater's Dan Dan Noodles

A bowl of spaghetti with chili onion crunch condiment.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

If you've never tried Trader Joe's chili onion crunch, I highly recommend you add it to your pantry immediately. I use it on pretty much everything, but my absolute favorite way to use it is in these cheater's dan dan noodles. I take a big scoop of chili onion crunch and toss it with whatever pasta I have on hand like udon, spaghetti, or lo mein. I often toss in some ground pork or chicken along with leafy greens like spinach or bok choy to make it a more complete meal. They may not be authentic Szechuan dan dan noodles, but they taste spicy and absolutely delicious and come together with just a few simple ingredients. If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's, this chili oil with crunchy garlic available on Amazon is a perfect substitute.

8. Souped Up Instant Ramen

A spoon taking a bite of insant ramen soup with a soft boiled egg, carrots, mushroom, and scallion.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

On its own, instant ramen seems pretty juvenile, but with a few additional ingredients it can taste surprisingly sophisticated. I use the ramen noodles and soup mix in an instant ramen package as a base, but then I add more ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, scallions, bok choy, and even bacon. I also stir in some more sauces and seasonings like sesame oil, chili oil, or soy sauce for extra flavor, and I almost always add a soft boiled egg to make it more filling. Here's a list of 21 ways to upgrade instant ramen.

9. Fried Rice

A skillet full of fried rice with chicken, vegetables, and scallions.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Fried rice is one of those foods I am literally always in the mood for. And making it at home is so incredibly easy. I usually start with microwaveable rice or cauliflower rice, frozen mixed vegetables, and whatever protein I have on hand like leftover chicken, shrimp, bacon, or even tofu. I toss everything together in a skillet with soy sauce and sesame oil and finally, I crack an egg right into the skillet and stir it around until cooked. The best part: it tastes even more delicious as the next day's leftovers. Get the recipe for easy fried rice here.

10. Tacos With Whatever Protein I Can Find

Two tacos filled with shrimp, avocado, slaw, red onion, and cilantro.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

If you are what you eat, I am a taco. I eat them that often, and I never get tired of them. That's why I almost always have tortillas in my kitchen. What I love most about tacos is that you can fill them with just about anything. I fact, I dare you to name a food that would taste bad wrapped in a tortilla. You can use fish, shrimp, chicken, cauliflower, chorizo, ground beef, sweet potatoes, heck, even scrambled eggs! Garnish your tacos with anything from slaw and avocado to lettuce and tomato and call it a fiesta.

11. Soft Scrambled Eggs

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

I said it before and I'll say it again, I freaking love eggs for dinner. My go-to is soft and buttery scrambled eggs on top of avocado toast. Other times I have scrambled eggs over a bunch of roasted veggies or in tortillas as tacos, quesadillas, or burritos. It's nutritious, it's filling, and it tastes great. The key to making really soft and creamy scrambled eggs is cooking them in a little bit of butter slowly over low heat. Get the recipe for life-changing soft scrambled eggs here.