We all have those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking.

  • Maybe you’ve had a jam-packed day at work or an afternoon of chauffeuring the kids to activities and you’re exhausted.
  • Maybe you’ve run out of meal ideas, especially for your pickier family members.
  • Maybe you’ve been hosting others and you’re tired of planning and preparing big meals.
  • Maybe you’ve never really loved cooking.
  • Maybe you’ve planned a meal but your taste buds just aren’t feeling it.
  • Maybe you just want a break!

Whatever reason lands you in this situation, you still face the age-old dinnertime dilemma – what to feed yourself and your family. And I’m betting that you also want something quick, healthy, easy to prep/clean up and guaranteed to make everyone happy.

Depending on where you live, take-out or heading to a restaurant might be an option. Though I’ll be honest, when I get home and the last thing I want to think about is making dinner, it’s usually because I feel burnt out. I am not interested in going places where I have to deal with crowds and/or lines, wrangle kids or try to figure out what everyone wants. Plus, in the back of my mind, I know it’s usually healthier, less expensive and faster to just whip something up at home.

This is when having a few super simple meal ideas in your back pocket can be a lifesaver. Today I’m sharing a few of my go-tos. None of these require a specific recipe, the ingredients can be easily customized to suit taste preferences or contents of your pantry, and the amounts can be scaled up or down depending on how many people you have at your table/how hungry you are.

  1. Clean-out the fridge salad. In our world, this usually means taco salad, but you could easily use a can of tuna or pulses or leftover meat as your protein. Here’s how it works. Set out a bowl for each family member. Pull all the veggies out of your fridge. Chop into bite size pieces and have everyone throw the veggies they’d like into their bowl. Dig out your protein source (or, like us, cook and season some ground beef from the freezer) and put a scoop on top of the veggies. Add extra toppings and dressing as desired. Pair with bread or pita and a glass of milk.
  2. Scrambled eggs. Ask everyone how many eggs and how many pieces of toast they’d like. Crack into a bowl and whisk with a splash of milk, some shredded cheese and a dash of hot sauce. While eggs are cooking on the stove, toss the bread into the toaster. Grab whatever fruit you have lying around and cut it up. Voila – eggs, toast, fruit salad and a glass of milk.
  3. Loaded sweet potatoes. This one I’ll share a recipe for, though I must admit, I never use a recipe. I use whatever veggies I have on hand, and adjust the toppings to fit my hunger level. Since we have different vegetable preferences at my house, no two sweet potatoes are identical. The recipe serves one, but just prep more of everything if you’re feeding your family. You can cook multiple potatoes in the microwave by placing them in a spoke pattern; they just may need more cooking time. If there are other veggies your family likes (e.g. tomatoes, steamed spinach or kale), feel free to add them. If you have leftover cooked chicken or ground beef either works great instead of beans. If you’d prefer guacamole to avocado slices, use that. There’s really no wrong way to do it.

The next time you don’t feel like cooking, remind yourself that it’s okay – you’re human! Then start working on your family’s short-list of meal ideas for nights like these. If you need more ideas, check out this post, ask your family/friends for their tips or start a Facebook thread. Share your go-tos in our comments section as well – we always love new ideas!

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Written by a Registered Dietitian.

Loaded Mexican Sweet Potato
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Yields
1

Ingredients

1 small sweet potato (about 1 cup, 250 ml, cooked)
1/4 cup (60 ml) reduced sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp (30 ml) cooked corn, from frozen
2 tbsp (30 ml) diced red pepper
1/8 avocado, diced
2 tbsp (30 ml) shredded cheese
2 tbsp (30 ml) salsa
2 tbsp (30 ml) plain Greek yogurt
cilantro (optional)

Directions

  1. With a fork or sharp knife, poke holes all around sweet potato, about 1 inch apart.
  2. Place sweet potato on a paper towel and microwave for 4 minutes. Turn sweet potato over and microwave an additional 4 minutes. If a knife cuts into the sweet potato easily, it is finished cooking. If not, continue to turn and micorwave in 4 minute increments until cooked. Note: sweet potato will be very hot to touch.
  3. While sweet potato is cooking, prepare all toppings.
  4. Slice cooked sweet potato in half. Cover with toppings and enjoy!