A Real Dinner, Fast: 5 Favorite Types of Almost-No-Work Meals

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

Every cook has them: the meals we turn to when we are busy, sad, stressed, or just too damn lazy to cook a real dinner. But what is a real dinner anyway? In the midst of a bustling week, sometimes there is nothing more dependable, more real, than sitting down and eating a simple, satisfying meal that you managed to pull together in under 15 minutes. Here are my five favorite ways to feed myself well with almost no work.

(Not mentioned — because I eat them with pretty much every meal below — eggs! They are a staple of my almost-no-work meal repertoire.)

Anything With an Avocado 

Stuff it, mash it, slice it — whatever you do, an avocado transforms any mishmash of ingredients into a more filling and infinitely more delicious meal.

Anything With a Roasted Sweet Potato

Roast a few sweet potatoes over the weekend and keep them in the refrigerator for quick meals throughout the week. You can top them with salad, leftover meat, cooked greens, a poached egg, or a scoop of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

A Ploughman’s Lunch

Cheese, meat, pickles and a hunk of bread or crackers makes a fine lunch — but it works as a simple supper too! Olives, dried fruit, hard-boiled eggs and flavorful greens like arugula are a few more of the many options for this easy, adaptable meal.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Rice (or Other Grain) Porridge

If you have leftover cooked rice or other grains like quinoa, it takes just a few minutes to turn those leftovers into a warm, comforting porridge or soup. Add some protein in the form of tofu, leftover cooked meat or an egg, and some quick-cooking greens like baby spinach and you have a satisfying meal in minutes.

→ Miso Soup with Rice & Poached Egg (Use store-bought chicken or vegetable stock for a quicker meal.)
→ Brown Rice Congee with Shiitake Mushrooms and Greens (Use leftover cooked rice instead of cooking it from scratch.)

Anything on Toast

Is there anything that doesn’t taste better on a piece of warm, chewy, freshly-toasted bread? You can call it an open-faced sandwich or a tartine, if you like. We just call it one of the easiest meals you can make.

What are your favorite almost-no-work meals?

This post was requested by mandarinmarie for Reader Request Week 2013.

(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)