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.
2. Fresh Fruit Spring Rolls
This fun take on spring rolls would be a cooking activity the kids would love to do together!
3. Hummus Sandwiches
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.
4. Pita Bread with Hummus
Turn this classic appetizer into a simple dinner by serving up hummus as a dipping sauce for pita bread (or crackers) and some simple fruit. Add in some sliced cheese and cut up veggies to round things out if you like.
5. Toddler Salad
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.
6. Mango Guacamole
Serve spread on a tortilla or pita or with crackers alongside some simple beans and a side of veggies (or serve with leftover chicken as a dipping sauce).
7. Fruit Salsa with Black Beans and Plantain Chips
8. Couscous with Salsa and Beans
Whole-wheat couscous fluffs up simply by pouring boiling water over top of it and it makes a yummy base for all sorts of toppings. We like having it with salsa and black beans—and shredding some cheese on top—for a new take on a Mexican-style meal.
10. White Beans with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Puree tomatoes, basil, and a little olive together in a food processor and toss with white beans. Serve with toast or pita bread for dipping.
11. 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!
12. Whole Grain Toaster Waffles with Nut Butter and Fruit
Because breakfast for dinner is fun and delicious!
13. Yogurt Grain Mash Up
Stir together some oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit for this easy breakfast-for-dinner idea.
14. Open-Faced Salami Sandwiches
Spread toast or bread with cream cheese or soft goat cheese and layer on thinly sliced salami for a new take on a sandwich dinner. Serve with simple veggies and fruit.
15. PB&J on Whole Grain Bread with a Side of Fruit or Veggies
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!)
16. Smoothie Bowl
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.
17. Wild Salmon Salad with Crackers
This lasts for a few days in the fridge and is rich in good fats and high in protein.
18. Simple Green Smoothie
Serve this spinach and fruit smoothie with crackers, dry cereal, or even a cheese sandwich.
19 .Deconstructed Chicken Salad
Make a plate of shredded rotisserie or leftover chicken, halved grapes, chopped walnuts, crackers or bread, and maybe some avocado as a deconstructed chicken salad.
20. 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!)
21. Deconstructed Greek Salad
Assemble a plate of chopped lettuce, cubed cheese, cooked chicken, sliced tomatoes, olives, and a dollop or two of hummus for a restaurant-dish at home.
23. Tortilla Roll Up
Spread 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.
24. Avocado Toast
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!)
27. Mango Overnight Oats
This would make a wonderfully refreshing dinner after a long afternoon at the pool!
28. 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.
29. White Beans with Homemade Ranch and Crackers
Toss together white beans (or chickpeas) with a little homemade Ranch dressing (or pesto) and serve alongside crackers, sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit, and some cheese if you like.
31. Green Smoothie Pops
With dry cereal, crackers, or some toast, this is an ideal warm-day dinner.
32. Strawberry Smoothie with Whole Grain Crackers
33. Rotisserie Chicken and Cucumber in a Pita Pocket with Ranch
Shred the chicken, diced the cucumber, and stuff it into a pita. Or serve it side by side.
34. Mashed Sweet Potato on Toast with Cinnamon and Milk
Try this sweet take on avocado toast for a hit of Vitamin A and fiber.
35. 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.
Which no-cook meals does your toddler love? Please share in the comments!
This post was originally published July 2017.