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14 Lazy Dinner Ideas For When You Don’t Want to Cook!

Not in the mood to cook dinner tonight? Make low-effort meals! These lazy dinner ideas will help you eat at home. 

Quick and easy low-effort meals are the best!
No one tells you that a huge part of adulting is figuring out what’s for dinner every day, FOREVER. When cooking a complete homemade meal from scratch or grabbing take-out food isn’t desired, now what?

Perhaps you don’t cook much or are unable to. No worries! I am here to share some easy tips and recipes for people who hate cooking!

What sounds good for dinner? I got you covered!
Cooking meals and photographing them is part of my job, and yet I still am at a loss as to what to make for my family some days. My kids are occupied with lots of sports and activities so I feel like we’re all coming or going. I too get meal burnout sometimes.

Our family does opt for DoorDash or take-out on occasion, but I would like to reduce that!

Over the years, I’ve become a fan of utilizing the premade section of the grocery store to get dinner done! Sometimes combining fresh items with ready-made foods is a genius shortcut.

I can also navigate the Costco and Sam’s Club pre-made sections like a champ, along with Trader Joe’s amazing frozen aisle. For instance, adding fresh veggies to a skillet with Trader Joe’s mandarin chicken is a winner!

Today I am sharing 14 tips and lazy dinner ideas to help inspire some easy low effort meals! It’s usually money-saving compared to restaurants and take-out. 

1. Utilize grocery store rotisserie chicken or canned chicken for quick meals.

Pairing bagged salads from the produce department with shredded cooked chicken is my personal go-to meal when cooking isn’t appealing. You could also make quick tacos, quesadillas, chicken salad, and more.

Hip Tip: Be sure to check our post on the best lazy dinner ideas to make with a rotisserie chicken.

Canned chicken is also an excellent pantry staple to have on hand for quick soups, casseroles, or chicken salad. I make my favorite walnut chicken salad sometimes for quick meals with it. I also make a super easy chicken pot pie using canned chicken!

2. Both Costco and Sam’s club have delicious premade meals in the refrigerator section!

If you have a warehouse membership, be sure to check out the pre-cooked meals and sides at Costco and the ones at Sam’s club too. Our family loves to utilize these for low-effort meals. The yummy chicken taco kit with tortillas from either store is always a hit with my kids!

Be sure to check out these popular posts: 

Best Costco Prepared Meals
Best Sam’s Club Pre-cooked Meals 

3. Trader Joe’s frozen meals are popular and delicious.

We have too many family-favorite ready-made or frozen items from Trader Joe’s to list! Honestly, their frozen items can taste so next-level and gourmet! Orange chicken, fried rice, all the pasta options, and the beef Birria taco meat are my current obsession.

The only downside is the portions tend to be for 1-2 people so I find myself grabbing multiple bags for a family portion size.

Hip Tip: Be sure to check out 34 of our team’s favorite Trader Joe’s finds!

4. Grab your favorite deli meat, cheese, and a loaf of French bread!

I find that cutting a loaf of bread in half lengthwise, making a large sandwich with deli meat, and cutting it into slices is such an easy way to do quick sandwiches for the family.

If you want to take it a step further try this grilled hand and cheese loaf recipe you can easily do on the grill or the oven!

5. Check out your grocery store’s premade soup section.

I am a huge soup lover especially when the weather is chilly. Opting for the convenient premade soups is fast and so comforting. My local grocery store also has the yummy Panera soups you can warm up at home.

Hip Tip: This large batch dump-and-done broccoli cheddar soup recipe has Panera vibes, with no real “cooking” involved!

6. Take advantage of the grocery store salad bar and hot food bar.

The convenience of a good salad bar with lots of toppings and veggies is also hard to resist! I love building a good salad instead of chopping veggies myself sometimes. Whole Foods has a nice salad bar and hot bar offerings to check out.

7. Build a quick snack-based dinner or charcuterie board!

Raid your fridge for odds and ends and build an easy snack-based dinner or charcuterie board. Utilize grocery store grab-and-go meats and cheeses too. I know Aldi usually has a great specialty cheese section that’s also affordable.

Arrange your small bites onto a large cutting board or sheet pan and enjoy a delicious no-cook meal!

8. Grocery store sushi is a valid option in a pinch!

You never know when a sushi craving could hit. If you don’t want to spend money on a restaurant this is an option to consider. I love a good grocery store crunch roll on occasion, and my local grocery store makes fresh sushi daily.

9. Utilize pre-made carnitas from the grocery store.

Pretty much every grocer has ready-made carnitas. Collin is a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s carnitas and uses it as a starter to build carnitas salad along with lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole to keep things low carb and keto.  You could easily make tacos or burritos instead!

10. Frozen foods in the air fryer is the ultimate lazy dinner idea!

Having an air fryer means not even having to turn on the oven to heat up frozen classics like french fries, taquitos, and of course chicken nuggets. It’s so easy the kids can even make them on their own!

If you’re looking for a great suggestion, check out these popular Just Bare chicken nuggets from Costco!

Hip Tip: Quick air fryer meals are so helpful and delicious. Be sure to check out all my easy air fryer recipes!

11. Pick up a large frozen lasagna, pre-made bagged salad, and garlic bread.

I am kind of a lasagna snob, and am telling you that there are some yummy frozen options out there! My hands down favorite is the Italian sausage and beef frozen lasagna from Costco.

The sauce is so flavorful and it’s big enough for the whole family with leftovers. Try it!

12. Buy pre-made pizza dough and add toppings for a fast semi-homemade pizza night.

Taking the shortcut of buying dough can be helpful when making quick pizzas! My family personally enjoys the herbed pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Then just add some pizza sauce, and cheese, with toppings. Bake in the oven for a low-effort pizza!

13. Prepared ribs from the grocery store warmer can be comforting and yum!

I like how stores are offering more than just prepared rotisserie chickens now. You can often find warm BBQ ribs ready to go! Pair ribs with a bag of salad and maybe another side dish for a yummy lazy day dinner idea!

14. When all else fails make breakfast for a low-effort meal idea!

I once watched a TV interview with Martha Stewart where they asked her if she eats fast food. She said she no, but when she doesn’t feel like cooking she fries an egg with toast. I love doing that also because it’s so simple yet comforting and delicious.

Check out this easy method for frying cheese with an egg on top. It’s my favorite low-effort breakfast right now. This idea is keto, however, I love adding it to a piece of toast!

My kids would say their favorite breakfast-for-dinner idea is pancakes. Baking pancakes on a sheet pan is the easiest method, especially if you use a boxed pancake mix from the pantry! This is a wonderful low-effort meal all will love, and you can customize the toppings to taste.

Do you have a “go-to” lazy meal idea when you don’t feel like cooking? Share with us in the comments! 

Check out my latest FREE five-day meal plan with a grocery list!