5 Dinner Ideas for When You Are Too Tired to Cook

The life of a parent is absolutely exhausting. If you are lucky enough to have children who sleep through the night, you are undoubtedly woken early with requests for snacks and screens (I know it isn’t just me). And after a busy work day either at or outside of the home, whipping up a healthy home cooked meal can sound like torture and make you yearn for the golden arches. But wait! You don’t have to give in to fast food on those nights when you are short on time and energy. Here are 5 dinner ideas for when you are too tired to cook:

Visit your local bar. No, I’m not talking about THAT bar, I’m talking about the soup/salad/sandwich/hot bar at your local grocery store. I stop by my local Mariano’s and make a meal out of the yummy offerings at the hot bar (turkey chili and the roasted carrots are a hit with my kids) and salad bar (I swear, that’s where they keep the freshest fruit in the entire store! You can also pick up a pre-made rotisserie chicken and try one of these amazingly easy recipes.

Make a smorgasbord. I know, I know…it sounds like a ton of work. But it actually isn’t. Simply get out a large platter and fill it with some simple foods that you know your family loves. One of my favorite spreads includes turkey slices, baby carrots, grapes, dried cranberries, pretzels, cubed cheese, and hummus.

Don’t overlook the egg. Add some milk, cheese, veggies, and seasoning and you have a heartwarming meal. I love making frittatas because not only is it easy and quick, but it is also a great way to empty out my fridge. Serve it with some toast and a glass of orange juice and you are all set!

Have an appetizer dinner. I mean, who doesn’t love digging in to some mini crab cakes? How about those melt in your mouth mini quiches? So the next time you are at Whole Foods or Target (they have the BEST frozen appetizers, hands down!), stock up on some appetizers so that you can simply throw some things on a baking sheet and in 10-15 minutes, dinner is DONE.

Keep it simple. Boil some water, drop in some pasta, heat up some jarred sauce. That’s it. If you are feeling really adventurous, cut up some greens and put out a jar of salad dressing. And if I were you, I would even eat off of some paper plates!

Looking for some other family friendly recipes? Here are our favorite soups, drinks, and more!

Now get out of the kitchen and go relax!


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  1. robin masshole mommy says

    I have lots of days when I am too tired to cook and those are nights that we end up ordering out. Lucky for me, we have like a million pizza places in my town.

    • Amanda says

      As much as I love pizza, I make a conscious effort to try for some healthier meal options so I’m not always ordering take out.

  2. Jeanette says

    Now you are speaking my language! I am not a big cook so IF there is a cheat for that I am all over that! We do eggs a lot, but I have not thought of the other ones! Pinning this!

  3. lisa says

    There are lots of days that I feel too tired to cook! I have found that breakfast foods work wonders and so does my slow cooker. I throw veggies and a meat in the slow cooker and dinner is done!

  4. Emily says

    Great ideas! We get here a lot in the evenings where we are too tired to cook. My kids love the smorgasbord idea. Also breakfast for dinner it always a hit with my family.

  5. Lea says

    I am more often than not exhausted by dinner time, and have a very picky almost 6 year old. My go-to is store bought rotisserie chicken or carnitas (at any Mexican grocery store), I will then usually get a tub of already made rice (when I’m feeling super lazy) and premade guacamole. At home I reheat a can of beans. We buy the raw flour tortillas from Costco, there’s like 50 of them in the bag and they last forever in the fridge. They cook in one minute so we have instant quesadillas. Dinner is served!

  6. Dee says

    I am tired most night, so what I try to do is pre-cook meals on the weekend so it makes it easier to have dinner, but eating a bowl of popcorn some times do the trick.

  7. Pam Wattenbarger says

    These are great ideas for when you’re too tired to cook! I do the smorgasbord thing sometimes when the kids are in town.

  8. Teresa says

    Whenever I haven’t planned ahead, it is Breakfast for Dinner for us. Although my kids are not huge fans of eggs (me either), but we love pancakes!! Wonderful ideas for us tired mamas!

    • Amanda says

      I do like breakfast for dinner, but sometimes that takes as much work as a traditional dinner. That’s why I’m all about the simple frittata.

  9. Claudia Krusch says

    I am definitely going to save this page for the next time I need a quick and easy meal. Everyone has those nights you just do not want to cook.

  10. Rebecca Swenor says

    These are all great dinner ideas for when you are to tired to cook. I love the food bar idea and the appetizer dinner idea also. Thanks for sharing these easy dinner ideas.

  11. Roxanne says

    Great idea to hit the salad bar at the grocery store!! I love all of these ideas! I have started adding a veggie plate at dinner that the kids can pick off their favorites while eating. They think it feels fancy. 😉

  12. Stephanie says

    These are great ideas! I’m always stuck on what to grab fast at the store when I don’t want to cook. I will have to try some of the Target appetizers and I’m grateful for the reminder to visit my local Fresh Market hot bar!

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