No matter the time of year (though especially in the summer!), there are nights when you just really don’t want to cook. And luckily, we don’t have to! Enter: This big list of easy no-cook meals that are quick and easy to make and serve to everyone in the house.
Having a list of go-to meals that don’t require any cooking can be a key for serving up healthy family dinners even when you’re busy. I find myself needing to draw on this list when we have a lot of evening activities or on the weekend when I’m tired from cooking (and life!) all week.
There’s a variety of levels of effort in these ideas, so see what you think will work in your house the next time you don’t want to cook—but still want to use up the food you may have at home.
Serve up a mix of crackers, sliced cheese, raw veggies (cucumbers and snap peas are our favorites), sliced fruit, sliced deli meat or salami, and maybe some chopped nuts and let everyone help themselves.
Hummus Sandwich or Wrap
Whether with store-bought or homemade hummus, this sort of sandwich is a super quick (and filling) dinner idea. Try it on whole grain bread, rolled up in a wrap, tucked into a pita, or open-faced on flat bread.
Easy Turkey Wrap
Roll up a few simple ingredients to make this delicious Turkey Wrap recipe in minutes. It’s a great lunch wrap for home or school, and you can easily adjust the ingredients to suit the preferences of your child. Win!
Either on a skewer (or lollipop stick) or assembled on a plate. The combination of fruits and veggies here is key! Round it out with some cheese, canned salmon or tuna, or nut butter on toast.
Fruit Salsa with Black Beans and Plantain Chips
Pair an easy fruit salsa with beans and rice or plantain chips for a delish meal to share.
Whole Grain Cereal with Fruit and Milk
You can’t tell me that you didn’t love eating cereal for dinner when you were a kid!
Stir together some oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit for this easy breakfast-for-dinner idea.
Peanut Butter Toast with Fruit
This is so simple, but so easy. (You could even do this for the kids and order takeout for yourself after they go to bed!)
This is a really fun (and fast) breakfast or lunch (or dinner!) idea. I like to put out little bowls of toppings and let the kids help themselves.
Wild Salmon Salad with Crackers
This lasts for a few days in the fridge and is rich in good fats and high in protein.
Simple Green Smoothie
Serve this spinach and fruit smoothie with crackers, dry cereal, or even a cheese sandwich.
Deconstructed Taco Salad
Have taco meat, beans, salsa, and cheese served over lettuce for the parents and all of the ingredients served side-by-side for the kids. (I find that the more they can see what they are being served, the better!)
Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Pick up rice stick noodles and “cook” them by pouring boiling water over them as directed on the package. Serve with cucumbers and peanut sauce.
Tortilla Roll Up
Spread mashed beans, cream cheese or nut butter and jam onto a whole grain tortilla. Layer on sliced fresh fruit and roll up. Slice into spirals. Serve alongside a simple fresh veggie like bell pepper strips or fresh tomatoes.
Give the kids a dose of good fats with this super simple (and totally tasty) idea. Simply mash avocado onto whole grain bread or toast. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve. (Or, top with shredded cheese, hard-cooked egg slices, or anything else you think might taste good!)
DIY Trail Mix with Smoothies
Assemble a kid-safe trail mix and pair with a smoothie for an easy meal.
Mango Overnight Oats
This would make a wonderfully refreshing dinner after a long afternoon at the pool!
Strawberry Milk and Sandwich
Try this with a simple cheese or hummus sandwich for a refreshing take on regular milk that sneaks in a serving of fruit.
Homemade Granola Bar with Cheese and Fruit
You can make those bars anytime and stash them in the fridge or freezer.
Green Smoothie Pops and Crackers
With dry cereal, crackers, or some toast, this is an ideal warm-day dinner.
Strawberry Smoothie with Whole Grain Crackers
Blend a quick smoothie to serve with crackers or a muffin.
Fruit and Veggies with Yogurt Nut Butter Dip
Stir together plain yogurt with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter and a drizzle of honey for a yummy dip for sliced fruit, berries, plain crackers, and veggies like cucumbers and snap peas.
Sandwich Roll Up
Transform a basic sandwich into a super fun Sandwich Roll-Up with a simple method anyone can do. This works with a variety of fillings and can be served at home or packed for school lunch. It’s an easy option to have in the kids lunch mix!
Banana Sushi is a seriously fun and fast lunch for kids—or meal for any time of the day—that’s filling and satisfying, too. Plus: You need only three nutritious ingredients to make this for the kids and they take less than 5 minutes to make Win, win!
Best Tips for Succss
- Aim for 2-3 different food groups and don’t worry so much if it’s sometimes a random mix of foods.
- Start with small portions to keep food waste in check and allow more according to the hunger of the kids.
- Use breakfast ideas for other meals if that makes it easier for you to get a meal on the table.
- Check out Shortcut Meals for more ideas.
Which no-cook meals does your toddler love? Please share in the comments!
This post was originally published July 2017.