Chicken salad sandwiches


It’s a familiar scene: an open refrigerator door, an assortment of ingredients on the shelf, a clock ticking closer to dinner time. What do you cook when you don’t feel like cooking?

Cooking burnout is a reality for many of us these days. It can mean feeling uninspired, overwhelmed, or just plain tired of preparing meal after meal every day. The good news? Cooking doesn’t have to feel like a chore, and there are ways to find joy in your meals once again.

We asked the experts—cookbook authors, registered dietitians, food bloggers, health coaches—for their best advice. Here are their kitchen shortcuts, meal prep tips, and easy, go-to recipes. We’re here to tell you: you can do it! 

Take a Pasta Pantry Dive

Mediterranean Pita Pizzas
Mediterranean Pita Pizzas can be on the table in 30 minutes. Let kids build their own by choosing from healthy toppings.

My burnout solution typically involves pasta and a pantry dive. Just about anything can become a pasta sauce, whether it’s just a lot of garlic and red pepper flakes sautéed in olive oil, a couple of runny eggs that have been cut or broken up, or a can of tomatoes simmered with an onion and a knob of butter a la Marcella Hazan. Even the simplest pasta feels like a victory for me and is always worthy of a glass of wine (which also helps ease the burnout!)

Sheela Prakash, food and wine writer, recipe developer, and cookbook author

Make 30 Minute Meals

When I work on my meal plan for the week, I make sure to include a few easy meals that don’t take a ton of time and effort…quick meals that take fewer dishes and come together in 20 to 30 minutes start-to-finish, like Skillet Chicken and Mushroom, Lemon Garlic Salmon, or Shrimp Pasta.

—Suzy KaradshehCEO & founder, The Mediterranean Dish

More 30-minute Mediterranean meals

Create Your “Capsule Wardrobe”

cold black eyed pea salad
Cold Black Eyed Pea Salad is a great blueprint for mix-and-match meals. If you have beans, chopped veggies, and vinaigrette prepped in advance, making a salad like this is a breeze!

Ever heard of a capsule wardrobe? A few simple pieces that can be combined in infinite ways? Apply the same concept to your meals! Aim to prepare 1-2 proteins and 3-4 veggies to combine in different ways, so it feels like a new meal without starting from scratch every night. Last night’s roast chicken can be transformed into today’s burrito bowl. Make extra broccoli and add that to a scramble with some cheddar cheese for a quick breakfast or lunch.

—Jessica Lawson, home chef and baker, health and lifestyle coach, founder of Big Delicious Life 

Get the Whole Family On Board

Make a meal plan, buy and prep your ingredients ahead of time. Get all of your family involved in cooking and cleaning!

—Archana Mundhe, food writer, recipe developer, and author, founder of Ministry of Curry

Expert tips to get kids eating new foods

Start with a Rotisserie Chicken

Arugula Salad with Chicken, Dates and Buckwheat Hemp Crumble
Use rotisserie or pre-cooked chicken for an easy and hearty dinner salad, like this Arugula Salad with Chicken, Dates, and Buckwheat Crumble

I’m a big fan of a store-bought rotisserie chicken. You can pull it off the bone and doctor it up with seasonings. An easy one is store-bought pesto. To keep things simple, serve your chicken with pre-washed and prepped broccoli or another veggie roasted in extra virgin olive oil. Ready-to-cook veggies are an ideal solution when you want to stay healthy but don’t feel like spending too much time cooking. Pair your chicken and veggies with an easy whole grain, like frozen quinoa, which goes from the package to your plate in a few minutes

Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock

Embrace One Pot Dinners

I’m a big fan of one-pot meals that don’t take a ton of thinking to put together and that allow you to use up pantry staples like canned beans and pasta. 

—Suzy KaradshehCEO & founder, The Mediterranean Dish

Make Cooking Easy with These One-Dish Mediterranean Meals

Stock Up with Soup Starters

bowl of black bean soup
If you have 2 cans of black beans and 20 minutes, then you can make this Easy Black Bean Soup!

Keeping a well stocked freezer and pantry makes everything more manageable. I also always have “soup starters” in my freezer which are chopped sauteed onions, celery, carrots and garlic frozen in a few cups of broth. Keep these stocked so that you can whip up a hearty and healthy homemade soup in no time. Just drop the starter into a pot to unthaw and add in whatever veggies, protein or beans you have on hand and you’re done! 

—Jessica Lawson, home chef and baker, health and lifestyle coach, founder of Big Delicious Life 

Don’t Be Afraid of Canned Seafood

Canned tuna and salmon are also great options when you’re tired of cooking. If you don’t want to do any prep, you can use canned fish, like these, over pre-washed greens, but if you can manage a little more, you can mix one with lentil or whole grain pasta, an olive oil-based vinaigrette, veggies (like broccoli and tomatoes), and olives. You can eat the mixture as a stand-alone meal or have it over a bed of arugula to boost your veggie intake further.

—Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock

Turn the Oven Off

scrambled eggs with zucchini
This quick Mediterranean Scramble packs veggies, eggs, and whole grains into a simple, Greek-inspired meal!

No-cook dinners can be a lifesaver. For us, they can easily come in the form of a Mezze Platter with whatever dips, veggies, olives etc. we have in the fridge (while I keep my fridge stocked with homemade hummus, quality store-bought hummus is a great option too). Warm up some pita or your favorite bread and you’re good to go. 

—Suzy KaradshehCEO & founder, The Mediterranean Dish

Scramble Some Eggs

I’m feeling cooking burnout, too, which is why I make sure to plan for at least one really easy meal every week. For example, scrambled eggs are a convenient source of protein and they’re easy to cook and clean. Plus, they pair well with veggies and a slice of whole grain toast.

—Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock

 


Feeling Burned Out?

The Oldways Heritage Meal Plan can help.

Are you tired of the same old same old, but finding it hard to change up your menu and habits? Subscribers to the Oldways Heritage Meal Plan receive a dietitian-prepared plan filled with recipes, grocery shopping lists, and tips every month. These plans remove the guesswork in shopping for and preparing flavorful, nutritious, budget-friendly meals every week. 

Learn More about the Meal Plan
 


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