Sometimes between the massive holiday meals, the empty fridge, the early sunset, and the cozy blanket couchlock, you really can’t bring yourself to cook much at all.
Over the past couple months, I tracked what I ate on days like those, and I’m gonna show you what I eat when I really do not wanna cook. I’m sure everyone in the comments will have even more suggestions.
1. Sea cuisine.
They didn’t pay for the mention, but I almost always have a two pack of these glorified fish sticks in the freezer, since I can put one in a hot oven or medium-heat skillet and have some fish to eat in 10 minutes. If I’m willing and able, I like to do the teriyaki salmon over rice with a macaroni salad on the side and some mixed greens in sesame dressing. But if we’re talking maximum sloth, I’ll just eat both filets straight no chaser while hunched over a coffee table.
2. A small bowl of plain unsweetened yogurt with jam or candied nuts mixed in.
Someone gave me a jar of homemade strawberry jam this Summer and I would eat that over yogurt with chia seeds on top every morning for like a month straight.Prioritize nutrition above appearance and, to a degree, taste.
Blend it brown and suck it down. But if I need a smoothie to be filling enough for a full-on meal on a no-cook day, this is what I’ll put in the blender. Half a frozen banana, a half cup of frozen blueberries…If it’s gotten to the point at which I’m having a smoothie for a meal, I guarantee there are no leafy greens in my fridge, so I’ll add frozen spinach or a scoop of shelf-stable greens powder. A spoonful of chia seeds, a spoonful of peanut butter, and enough almondmilk to allow everything to blend. If there’s no almondmilk, just use water and a few almonds. It’ll be the same exact thing once it’s blended, plus bonus fiber.
One thing I’ve recently added to the rotation is a little frozen packet of dragonfruit. It turns everything pinkish purple, and makes your worst-case scenario meal look a bit more cheerful and colorful. You could also add a scoop of protein powder if you’ve got some, but even then, all you need is shelf-stable or frozen stuff to make this smoothie. If tomatoes are in season, I will happily eat just a piece of toast with salted peppered slices of tomato on it. It’s the middle of December right now, but in the interest of getting this Article out, I’m using this pale anemic specimen. You could punch this up with ricotta or mozzarella, pesto or basil, balsamic glaze… as long as I have a tomato on hand, I’m 30 seconds away from tomato toast. If toasting bread is too much to ask, I’m not against using a plain rice cake in its place. I’ve dressed up plenty a stale rice cake with ricotta, strawberry jam, chia seeds, and basil … and it’s not bad. Speaking of not bad… Hard to beat the ol’ microwaved potato.
Stab a Russet with a fork a couple times to make some steam vents, and nuke it on potato setting or on high for 5-10 minutes until it’s soft and fluffy on the inside. If you live with a meat-avoider, you might have meat-free shelf-stable bac’n bits in the pantry, but I’m partial to a pat of butter, salt, and pepper. This Pitts and Spitts spice blend has mostly just salt and pepper AND MSG, which is a nice little addition for something like this. Also, potatoes are like one of the most satiating foods we’ve got. Do not sleep on the tater.
I do eat just 2 plain scrambled eggs very often, but that involves cooking so it’s disqualified…. Oh you could fill a saucepan with chicken stock. Homemade would taste the best, but if you use store-bought, go low-sodium so you can flavor it with a little soy sauce later. Here’s a life hack for you. These tetra paks always splash the liquid out, but if you flip it upside down you get a smooth pour every time.
Anyway, plop some frozen wontons, dumplings, or potstickers in and simmer them together for a few minutes. If you’ve got a big slice of ginger, some baby bok choy, udon noodles, miso paste, or a soft boiled egg, those are all welcome additions. I always have some ginger in the freezer and scallions in the garden, but even just broth and wontons with some chili oil oo wee that’s good minimum effort vittles. You know I’ve always got a can of chickpeas on me, so I’m always 5 minutes away from eating hummus. Most of the time I’m 0 minutes away cuz I really do be makin hummus a lot.
I’ll take a pita from the freezer, heat it on a skillet until toasted and steamy, and cut that into pieces to serve alongside a shallow bowl of hummus. Some chicken, cucumbers, and tomatoes on top of the hummus is a fantastic lunch, but if I had chicken and produce on me I wouldn’t be in this pickle, so sometimes it’s just hummus and pita for me. I still do the swoosh and the oil and the sprinkle, even if I’m making this for myself and eating it alone. I don’t think you need to overlook presentation just because you’re making an emergency feed-me-right-now type meal.
I do think that the reason why people get so sentimental about sandwiches being cut diagonally is because for most of us growing up, that’s as close as you get to having a meal lovingly garnished at home. Try making it nice. I understand that it’s kind of a meme to watch like an Emily Mariko TikTok and comment “this is how my life would be if I didn’t have crippling depression”, but she and I and all the people who post online are an incredibly bad example of real life cooking.
We can buy fancy ingredients as tax write-offs, we spend tons of time trying to wrangle light in a way that makes everything look beautifully drenched in sun, and any mistakes we make are commented on a hundred times, so the pressure’s on to make things look nice. If you’re on YouTube learning how to cook or code or build, you’re opting in to your own self-improvement, and that is great. But don’t go too crazy chasing an aspirational standard, becoming a “1% better every day” type guy and ultimately getting stuck in a feedback loop of signalling status and buying more products to support a hobby that was originally meant to foster a sense of self-reliance. Or do…. You really shouldn’t be listening too much to me, I’m having a microwaved potato for dinner.