Despite being a cooking writer, home chef, and general lover of the culinary arts, some nights I just plain ol' don’t want to cook. But alas, I find myself hungry, tired, and broke, yet I must feed. Enter the Lazy Meal. Everyone has one: The thing they make on autopilot on the nights they can barely be bothered to fire up the stove.
I asked around the office to get the scoop on my coworkers' Lazy Meals (a mostly self-serving mission: I need some new, quick go-to's beyond Asian peanut noodles and broccoli mac and cheese). Here are our staff favorite recipes and, shall we say, alternative picks for those sloth-like nights.
1. A tasty twist on cold cereal
So here's the thing: My cooking skills never left college. This means that on the weekends, I often find myself mixing a spoonful of Skippy peanut butter into a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios.
When well-mixed, the result is a peanut buttery, crunchy delight. It tastes good, it's easy to make, and the ingredients never go bad. Pro-tip: Eating peanut butter and cheerios will never impress anyone and will, in fact, make your friends bang their heads against any nearby surface in despair on your behalf. Enjoy!"
—Julia MacDougall, Senior Scientist
2. A hearty bowl of dressed-up pasta
My incredibly shameful weeknight go-to recipe is this: I make pasta, but I dump some frozen veggies in the water to cook with the pasta. Usually a mixture of green beans, summer squash, and maybe broccoli. Then I toss it with a little Earth Balance margarine and grated pecorino romano cheese and some freshly ground pepper/red pepper flakes/maybe garlic-parsley.
If I want to be really happy I buy some smoked salmon (the kind that looks like a fillet, not thin slabs of lox) and tear it up with a fork and toss it with the pasta. Sometimes I throw a slightly runny egg on the pasta instead, but the salmon version is the best version.
—Kori Perten, Staff Writer
3. "The meat pile"
When my girlfriend and I know we won't have time to cook (and are too hungry to wait for delivery), our go-to lazy meal is hot dogs, chili, and slaw. We almost always have some hot dogs in the freezer and canned Hormel chili sitting in the pantry to tide us over.
There's also grocery store right on the way home, so if I feel up to it, I'll drop in to pick up some deli coleslaw and grab some buns... but it's not a requirement. On really lazy nights, we'll just have hotdogs and chili—also known as the meat pile. Liberally doused with hot sauce, of course.
—Matt Zahnzinger, Logistics Manager & Staff Writer
4. A vegetarian staple with quick clean-up
My go-to cheap and easy weeknight meal is usually roasted Brussels sprouts tossed with caramelized onion, shallot, and chopped garlic. It’s insanely affordable, pretty good in terms of nutrition, and doesn’t dirty up a bunch of pans and cookware. Plus, it’s one of those recipes that allows you to clean as you go since it takes two pans to cook and most of the work is done in a cast iron pan.
—Michael Desjardin, Staff Writer
5. An option for the fiscally irresponsible
I order sushi and then lament about how much money I waste on sushi delivery. Also, I’m a monster.
—Jessica Teich, Staff Writer
6. A quick, cheesy quesadilla
When I’m too tired to cook but don’t want to wait for (or pay for) takeout, I usually make my lazy take on a quesadilla: A flour tortilla filled with shredded cheese, plus a little chili powder and hot sauce. I throw it in my Panasonic FlashXPress for 4 minutes, and add some chips and salsa when it’s done. Because I can’t possibly eat just bread and cheese, I usually slice up a cucumber and add a little dressing, too.
—Keith Barry, Editor-in-Chief (Home & Outdoors)
7. The classic fallback
I plan out my meals for the week every Sunday, scheduling what I’m going to cook for dinner each day. I’m usually good about sticking to my schedule until Thursday night rolls around… and I crave pizza, and by that point, I’m too lazy to cook or move or do anything, so I order it. It’s a horrible habit, but I just can’t quit her (re: pizza). Help.
—Samantha Matt, Social Media and Content Strategy Manager
8. One-pan tacos for all
In my house, the quick and easy solution is usually taco night. You can race through the supermarket and grab everything you need in five minutes: A pound of ground turkey or beef, a packet of taco seasoning or pre-made sauce, a sweet onion, and a red pepper.
Dice and sauté the veggies, add the meat and seasoning (Frontera taco sauce is great and makes turkey taste not-terrible). Add some lettuce, shredded cheese, and diced tomato if you're feeling fresh. And while store-bought tortillas are a sin in some parts of the country, all's fair in love and tacos on a Tuesday night.
—TJ Donegan, Editor-in-Chief (Electronics)
9. A fancified basic
When I don't feel like cooking, but have to anyway, I revert back to an old rule called "One Pretentious Ingredient." So I'll make something really basic, like grilled cheese, but add one pretentious ingredient, like chopped jalapeño. Another favorite is boxed mac & cheese, but when it's time to stir up that cheese powder, I'll also stir in a quarter teaspoon of truffle oil and sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs on top. Instant gourmet.
—Chris Snow, Managing Editor
10. ...And a wing addiction for the books
My go-to solution for when I'm too lazy to cook (which, admittedly, is most of the time) is Wings Over delivery. When I moved this past September, I made a revelatory discover: Wings Over Brookline was within delivery distance!
...And this was where my once-occasional indulgence became an intervention-level issue.
I calculated it out: In the last 7 months, I've ordered the chicken/fries/soda combo over 60 times. That's easily over $1,000 on chicken and fries, and means I’ve eaten that exact meal every 3.4 days since September. Whether jogging out my door in sweatpants and shark slippers to collect a piping hot box of Cajun Blackened chicken every weekend is something to be ashamed of, I'm not sure. Or I'm too busy stuffing my face with delicious chicken to care.
—Lee Neikirk, Senior Staff Writer