8 Things To Make When You Don't Have Time To Cook

We talk about not having time to cook a lot. But, the underlying problem is more about recipes that take forever to prep or have to be simmered away for hours. If something is actually doable in 30 minutes or less, we could probably find that extra half hour. We all have our go-to recipe like that — one that's quick, easy, and doesn't really require cooking. After we've exhausted that back-pocket fave, though, we're back to having to figure out what to make and not having enough hours in the day to spend actual time in the kitchen.
To help solve this conundrum, we came up with eight quick meal ideas for our rolodex. Make them when you absolutely don't have time to cook and then feel like a BOSS when you end up with a cheap, healthy, homemade dish.
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Ahead, find eight 15-minute recipes (they're really more like guidelines) for what to make when you're super busy, have no clue what to eat, and don't want to end up slurping down a dinnertime bowl of cereal for the third time this week.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you keep these ingredients on hand, you'll never be more that 15 minutes away from a fancy-looking (and fancy-tasting!) bowl.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Mediterranean Salad Or Grains Bowl
Serves 1

Ingredients
Any greens or leftover grains
Hummus
Tahini
Olives
Israeli pickles
Sliced red onion (pickled red onion, if available)
Pulled or Sliced Pieces of Rotisserie chicken, optional
Feta, optional
Mediterranean hot sauce sauce or harissa, optional
Olive oil, (optional if serving over greens)
Balsamic Vinegar, (optional if serving over greens)

Instructions
Assemble bowl and eat!
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3 of 16
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Prep a frozen smoothie bag in advance to make this recipe even faster.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 smoothie of your choice
Chopped nuts
Sliced fruit or berries
Granola

Instructions
Pour your smoothie of choice into a bowl and top with toppings of your choosing. (Extra points for an insta-worthy bowl, but it’s really not necessary if you’re in a rush.)
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
If you treat instant oats like grits, you’ll have dinner on the table in 5 minutes flat
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Savoury Oatmeal
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 serving instant oatmeal
Cheddar cheese, to taste
Fried egg, optional
Chopped avocado, to taste
Chives, to taste
Salsa or hot sauce, to taste

Instructions
Make oatmeal according to package instructions. Top with cheese and microwave for 20 extra seconds, or until melted. Top with fried egg and add additional toppings if desired.
7 of 16
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Cheese doesn’t doesn’t feel like a snack when you assemble it nicely on a plate with other snacks.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Cheese Plate Smorgasbord
Serves 1

Ingredients
Assorted cheese (1-3 kinds, or whatever you have on hand
Assorted cold cuts (1-3 kinds, or whatever you have on hand)
Olives
Crackers
Sliced apple, optional
Grapes, optional
Mixed nuts, optional
Dried fruit, optional

Instructions
Assemble desired ingredients and enjoy!
9 of 16
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell
Avocado toast isn’t really a full on meal, but it's a whole other story when you turn it into an-almost BLT and add an egg.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
BT Avocado Toast
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 slice whole-wheat toast
1/2 avocado, mashed
2 cooked bacon slices
Tomato slices
1 fried egg
Hot sauce, optional

Instructions
Toast the bread. Spread mashed avocado on top. Season with salt and pepper. Top with bacon, tomato sliced and fried egg. Drizzle on hot sauce, if desired.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Grown-ups can eat pizza bagels, too. Customise yours however you like. (We won't judge if that includes pineapple!)
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Pizza Bagels
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 bagel (flavour of your choosing)
Tomato sauce or Pesto
Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced red onion, optional
Thinly sliced mushrooms, optional
Red pepper flakes, optional
Chopped basil, optional
Parmesan, optional

Instructions
Cut bagel in half and spread with tomato sauce or pesto. Top with cheese and any other thinly sliced toppings. Put the halves on aluminium foil on a cookie sheet and broil until cheese melts and veggies begin to char. Top with basil, red pepper flakes, and parmesan, if desired.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
In a dinner rut? Having a go-to wrap changes everything.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Caprese Wrap
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 whole-wheat wrap
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced mozzarella cheese (or mozzarella balls, halved)
Torn up basil, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Instructions
Build ingredients on one end of wrap. Being rolling towards the empty side and fold in edges as you go, like you’re rolling a burrito. Cut in halve and serve.
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Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Microwaves make loaded baked potatoes a possibility any night of the week.
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Photographed by Aaron Graubart; Food Styling by Tyna Hoang; Prop Styling by Marissa Herrmann.
Loaded "Baked" Sweet Potato
Serves 1-2

Ingredients
1-2 sweet potatoes
1-2 spoonfuls rinsed canned black beans
Cheese (white cheddar or cotija, or whatever you’ve got)
Sour cream, to taste
Cilantro, optional, to taste
Salsa or hot sauce, optional
Bacon crumbles, optional to taste

Instructions
Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap in a damp paper towel on a microwavable plate. Microwave individual sweet potatoes for 5 minutes and then check progress. After 5-minutes, microwave on 2 minute intervals until cooked through. Add desired toppings.
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