No-Cook Suppers: Enjoy Real Food the Easy Way

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Don’t feel like cooking tonight? No problem. You can skip that kitchen task and still eat real, good food on a budget with these no-cook suppers. No take-out or reservations required.

ploughman's lunch with eggs, ham, bread, pickle, cheese, and fruit

The Ploughman’s Lunch

Fancy dinners are to people in the 2000’s what restaurants were to people in the ’80s. Ahem.

I just might have borrowed a phrase from one of the best movies to watch on repeat during the 90’s. You’ll forgive my poetic license as I make the point:

You don’t have to cook every night.

Now, I am not saying that you should eat out or get take-out or buy convenience food items with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

That’s not usually good cheap eats.

However, I will propose the idea that you don’t have to cook every night. You can still eat real food easily and affordably without getting all hot and bothered in the kitchen.

You don’t have to cook every night. Just eat real food. – Chef Thierry Rautureau, as quoted in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Years ago, reading that book was a huge boost to my cooking mojo. Its emphasis on cooking at home and focusing on the basics, yea, even what was already in the pantry, was a great reminder that good meals don’t need to be complicated. Chef Thierry’s comment was so simple, but oh-so-helpful, I had to make a note of it.

The chef in question — a FRENCH chef, mind you —  had been explaining how some nights after a long day of work, he just wants some good bread and jam and a cup of hot cocoa, what I imagine to be the french equivalent of “Breakfast for Supper”.

French baguettes with jam, butter, and a plate of croissants

Petit Dejeuner

A light bulb went on! It made so much sense!

We don’t need to abandon ourselves to fast food or meals from a box, simple no-cook “meals” can be just as good and filling as a four-course feast. Just make sure you’re eating real food!

Easy No-Cook Suppers

Here are some easy no-cook suppers to pull together when you just don’t have it in you to cook. No take-out or reservations required.

For the sake of ease, I’m only listing non-recipe, no-cook suppers. If you’d like some specific recipes head here.

Make a snacky lunch or dinner.

Snacky meals are some of my favorites. They require very little prep on my part, but everyone in my family can enjoy real food goodness without my breaking a sweat. In fact, everyone is so happy with this option, that I even serve it on Christmas, New Year’s, and most Sundays. It can be dressed up or down so easily, it’s top on my list for no-cook suppers.

Consider these combinations of snack dinners:

  • Hummus, flat bread, and crudite veggies
  • Hard-cooked eggs, fresh fruit, and whole-grain rolls
  • Apple slices, almonds, cheese, fresh baked bread
  • Sliced cheese and meats, crackers, and in-season fruit
  • Rice cake or whole grain bread with nut or seed butter, sliced fruit, and a glass of milk

yogurt granola parfait with raspberries and blueberries

Yogurt Berry Parfait

Mix up favorite fruits and dairy.

While you might often consider fruit and dairy as a breakfast option, these combinations can pinch hit as no-cook suppers. I’ve lost count of how many people have told me they had a smoothie and popcorn for dinner. It’s a thing, people.

Obviously, if you don’t do dairy, you aren’t going to load up on cottage cheese and yogurt, however, you get the gist that fresh, seasonal fruit with some add-ons can make a great meal.

  • Cottage cheese, cut-up melon, whole wheat toast
  • Yogurt, granola, fresh berries
  • Smoothie bowl with add-ons
  • Fruit {and vegetable} smoothie, made with yogurt or protein powder
  • the aforementioned bread and butter with jam and cocoa – works for me!

black bean salad with jack cheese, jalapeños, and tomatoes

Black Bean Taco Salad

Make a salad.

Salads are simple, cool, and delicious. You can easily assemble them with pre-chopped and pre-cooked ingredients, or take a few minutes to chop your own veg.

Consider these tasty combinations:

  • Salad of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic. Add baguette slices to sop up the juices.
  • Drained tuna or salmon tossed with mayonnaise, chopped celery and fresh dill, crackers, fresh fruit
  • Mixed greens topped with chopped salsa vegetables, a can of black beans, and some shredded cheese
  • Baby spinach with nuts, fruit, and cheese for toppings

baguette sandwiches with chicken salad and a bowl of fruit

Chicken Caesar Baguette

Grab a rotisserie chicken.

The rotisserie chicken is God’s gift to harried home cooks. Most grocery stores and club stores sell them for about the same price as the uncooked chicken. Grab a couple birds and make any of the following combinations with the tasty meat:

  • Chicken salad, crackers, fresh fruit
  • Chicken salad sandwiches with veggie dippers
  • Taco salad with chicken, chips and salsa
  • Chicken and vegetable wrap, with hummus
  • Cold roast chicken, side salads, and seasonal fruit

Make a sandwich.

Sandwiches combine the best of all worlds. You can combine a variety of different items, even caesar salad, and tuck it into a baguette or between two slices of bread. Consider these combos:

  • Ham and swiss on rye bread
  • Turkey and cheddar on whole wheat bread
  • Roast beef and provolone on sourdough bread
  • Egg salad on white bread
  • Hard cooked eggs and vegetables in a baguette

No-cook suppers can be delicious, simple, filling meals that don’t break the bank. Whether it’s the heat of summer when lighter meals are preferred or the dead of winter when you’d rather cozy up with that jammy bread and cocoa, these no-cook suppers are all good old, healthy, real food.

Take it easy some night this week with a night off cooking.

What’s your favorite no-cook supper?

pinnable image for No-Cook Suppers

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Sue R says

    Thank you for this post! I often forget that I don’t have to turn out a four course meal every night. The simple meals are often the best because I still have energy left over to actually enjoy sharing a meal with my family, and we can eat them in a variety of places.

  2. Hillary says

    I LOVE this post. If I thought I could get away with it, I would do this everyday. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and some days I just don’t have the energy in me.
    We save these dinners for really bad RA days, and nights when the kids have sports.

  3. Fantastic list! Filing this away for the dog days of summer… 🙂

  4. cherie says

    Great post – I just finished the book on your recommendation – it WAS great and I did rethink some of my already ‘basic, do it yourself’ kitchen things because of it. I need to sell my kids on this idea I think – maybe it’s the teen thing – they’ll eat meatless without much issue, but I have a breakfast food hater, and I have a salad hater [she eats it when served but would balk if it were the main meal LOL] – but it’s something worth making an effort for – fresh bread WOULD make a different for sure!

  5. Nicki says

    Great list, and if our summer ever returns I will be sure to refer back to it – 9 degrees c here today!

    My favourite quick and healthy meal at the moment is this raw pasta sauce, came across. I was a little unsure before trying it but everyone thought it was so good and it was super easy.

  6. Susan says

    When we grill chicken, I always grill a few extras to cut up and serve for no-cook meals. It works with salmon and grilled veggies too.

  7. Denise says

    We recently went vegan as part of treating my husbands cancer homeopathically, and we do this a lot! There is so much other stress in my life that these kind of meals make my life soo much easier! And, honestly, little kids eat better this way (at least mine do) so if there is something they’re not really in love with, they dont have to eat a lot of it 🙂

  8. Dana says

    Great ideas. I don’t cook much in the summer because of the heat and lack of AC. But I think the fresh baked bread might count as cooking. 🙂

    • Jessica says

      Not if you buy it at the bakery. 😉

  9. Emily says

    I’m bookmarking this right now to make my days (and nights) easier! Especially with a new baby on the way and busy season coming again for my CPA husband, it’s not worth making a mess in the kitchen!

  10. Stacy says

    I love all of these things, and I’m pretty sure my son would be fine with meals of this kind. However, my husband would not consider these to be meals. They would be appetizers, snacks or dessert. There are lots of nights when I would love to just serve some vegetables and cheese and be done. Alas. He also doesn’t consider salad to be a meal item, but an accompaniment.

  11. Thanks, Jessica! You’re helping me shed the guilt that I sometimes feel when making these simple no-cook suppers. Also, we live in the country and the power has been going out more frequently. I’ve added several of these to my no-power meals list. I appreciate all your hard work! It helps me take better care of my family!

  12. Alice E says

    My usual is the sandwich version, Either some sliced meat, a quick chicken salad or egg salad if I have hard boiled eggs. I often include a veggie type salad or marinated vegetable. My favorite is marinated green beans although I often add a can of white beans to the green beans for a quick bean salad. I just use Italian dressing for the marinade. If the weather is really hot I might cook the green beans or veg earlier in the day to have it available later.

    Sometimes I just wimp out and fall back on fruit, sherbet of cookies to accompany the sandwich.

  13. Christine says

    Favorite movie. I could watch that on repeat anytime!!

    • My roommate in college was really shy. We bonded over that movie and watched it every day for the first month at school. Drove everyone else nuts, but it was a good thing.

  14. Pat says

    I love this idea and have been doing no cook meals at least once a week. We do taco salad with l/o taco meat, sandwiches and fruit and salads with veggies and whatever l/o meat we have. We have also done your tuna and pea pasta salad as a meal and I’ve also done that salad with chicken as well.

  15. Melissa in GA says

    Doing this tonite! Turned leftover BBQ chicken into chicken salad, serving with lettuce, tomato wedges, hard boiled eggs and crackers on the side. Monday we had steak salad a with leftover steak – so 2 no cook dinners for me this week!

    Costco sells a package of what I call skirt steak for about $20. I marinate it overnight in a copycat recipe of Chilis fajita marinade. Hubs then does a quick sear on the hot grill. The three of us eat on that steak for several meals – usually 2 dinners and 2 lunches. It’s a tasty and versatile meat – eaten as is or in fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, salads, wraps or sandwiches.

    Your snacky dinner is called a poo-poo platter at our house, lol. It can be any cheeses, spreads, bread or cracker, olives or pickles, veggies with dip, etc. so fun cause it’s always different.

  16. Laura says

    Absolutely yes!! Tonight we will be eating a smorgasbord of this and that. Our favorite is a mix of veggies and greens with left over cooked chicken, bacon and hard boiled eggs with homemade ranch either made into salad or loaded on French bread. And probably corn on the cob too ?

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