10 Slacker Dinner Ideas for When You’re Too Tired to Cook

As all moms know, feeding the family can be an exhausting task when little kids are involved.


Why do they have to eat every single night? I have no idea. But what I do know, is that on any given night, without fail, at least one kid is going to be super picky or won’t be in the mood to cooperate or will find my food disgusting.

I know that your intentions are good, mama. I know you want to feed your kids all organic, non-GMO foods that are as nutrient-dense as they are thoughtfully prepared. I know that it’s your secret wish that the three-year-old would warm up to asparagus after trying it 573 times.

But that’s not real life. So, why not come up with some real-mom slacker meals to make our lives a little easier instead? These are some tried-and-true meal ideas for those nights when you simply can’t muster up the energy to cook. You won’t get any judgment from me if this list becomes your go-to resource for feeding your family—even if you use it five nights a week.

Cereal. Now, this one is kind of obvious, but it’s obvious for a reason. It’s genius. I have even separated my cereals into dessert cereals and meal cereals. Lucky charms? Dessert cereal. Frosted Mini-Wheats? Meal cereal—because fiber, duh! Either way, consider it a meal because it also has milk, and it makes everyone happy. Throw in a banana if you’re really feeling guilty.

BBQ chicken sandwiches. This one sounds way fancier than it is, but trust me, it’s deceptively easy. Put frozen chicken in a slow-cooker, open a jar of BBQ sauce, pour it over the chicken, and you’re done. After five or six hours, shred it up, throw it on some bread, and you’ve just whipped up an amazing meal that looks way harder than it was. Just make sure you remember to turn your crockpot on (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…).

Eggs are your friends. Protein-rich eggs can be cooked a million different ways. My kids love fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and boiled eggs. Egg salad sandwiches and breakfast burritos are also a hit in our house. When all else fails, make eggs.

Build your own pizza night. Tired of cooking? Have your kids do it for you. I give my kids personal-size pizza crusts, a jar of sauce, shredded cheese, and pepperoni, and let them go to town.  And, since kids are picky, there’s no need for fancy toppings or a lot of chopping. While they’re at it, have them make one for you, too.

Kid food night. Hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese, chicken nuggets, and plain pasta? Those are the meals kids’ dreams are made of. Don’t feel guilty if a frozen corn dog is dinner. Instead, embrace the fact that your child is eating something he actually enjoys, and you get to take the night off.

Toothpick night. I discovered something about toddlers (and bigger kids too): They love eating off of toothpicks. It’s weird, sure, but it works. Try pulling out a bunch of random things from your fridge, lay them out on a platter, and give your kids some toothpicks. Cheese, crackers, and turkey are perfect for this. Your littles will feel like they’re feasting on the sample bar at Costco, and you’ll appreciate not having to cook.

Chili verde pork tacos. This is a go-to meal in our house. Very similar to the BBQ chicken sandwiches, buy yourself a pork roast, put it in a slow-cooker, turn it on low, and pour a jar of chili verde salsa on top. Serve it in tortillas.  We use the leftovers to make nachos later in the week. Easy peasy.

Smoothies. Kids love smoothies, and smoothies are actually a sneaky way to get your kids to eat fruit and veggies. My favorite combo is just plain vanilla yogurt, frozen berries, bananas, and milk. Try throwing in some spinach in there too (just don’t let your kids catch you).

Sandwich night. Nothing is easier than PB&J and turkey sandwiches. Like the pizza idea, get your kids to make their own. They’ll love their independence. Pair with smoothie night if you want, or toothpick night. Either way, don’t turn on that stove!

Thanksgiving dinner. I know you think I’m crazy—right? Just hear me out. One of my favorite meals is to throw a small turkey breast in my trusty Crock-Pot with some salt and pepper. It makes the perfect turkey every time. If you mix up some Stove Top Stuffing to go with it, your kids will feel like they’re getting Thanksgiving dinner on a weeknight. Score!

No matter which slacker dinner route you choose, remember, getting a meal on the table doesn’t require rocket science. Take a deep breath, and remember that you’ve got this. And when all else fails, your Crock-Pot is your best friend.

More Easy Meals:

Easiest Ever Salmon Recipes

15 Beef Crock-Pot Dinners Even Picky Eaters Will Love

15 Tasty Slow-Cooker Drumstick Recipes

Photo: Getty