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Frugal Foodie: When You’re Too Lazy to Cook

What to do on the days when you need to eat, but you don't really want to cook.

I hate to admit this, but sometimes I’m just too lazy to cook.

I do love to cook and cooking special dishes is one way I actively show my family how much they mean to me. Despite that, there are days
when if I hear one more kid ask me what’s for dinner (or breakfast or lunch!), I feel like I’m going to run screaming from our home, tearing my hair out like some crazed Shakespearean character.

In the past, a day like that would lead to two or three over-processed or fast food meals, but now that I’m trying to be frugal and healthy, substituting fast food for real food makes me feel a little bit guilty. The best way I’ve discovered to manage lazy cooking days is to do your best to plan ahead for them, so you have reasonable options available that don’t leave you feeling like the worse parent in the world.

Tips for Tackling Lazy Cooking Days

Keep a secret stash of ingredients to make quick “fancy” sandwiches. We keep a rotating stash of blueberry bagels, jewish rye bread and pitas in a high cabinet away from our every-day cooking supplies. This makes it easy to throw together a gourmet peanut butter sandwich made with buttered, toasted bagels or to create a quick “Panini” style sandwich on the Foreman grille with regular sliced turkey, provolone cheese and rye bread. Even plain old tuna fish becomes something amazing if you mix it with greek salad dressing, layer with fresh spinach and stuff it in a pita.


Learn to make frittatas. My husband picked up the knack for making egg frittatas after watching Alton Brown on Food Network and it has been one of the handiest recipes ever because it works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Basically whip some eggs and a touch of milk with something flavor enhancing like chopped onions, bell peppers, spinach, diced tomatoes, leftover ham or whatever else you might have on hand and then bake it in the oven on 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. You can even pour the mix into muffin tins to speed the cooking time.

Master the art of the quick vegetable soup. If your family likes soup, try to keep diced tomatoes, chicken stock and milk on hand. These ingredients plus almost any sautéed, diced vegetable simmered for 20 to 25 minutes will result in a flavorful soup, perfect to eat with
grilled cheese sandwiches.


Experiment with salads. If you keep a bag of fresh salad or fresh baby spinach, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on hand, you are always just a few tosses away from a healthy salad. The great thing about salad is that the possibilities for creating a good salad are endless—you can add fresh vegetables, chopped boiled eggs, and leftover chicken, fish, or beef to make a lovely entrée in 15 minutes or so.

Remember, It Happens To the Best of Us
If your family ends up eating cereal for dinner one night (or for every meal one day), don’t beat yourself up about it. When it comes to food, tomorrow is always another day to eat better.

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