Photo by: Amanda Simkin

5 Dinner Ideas When You Are Too Tired to Cook

Photo by: Amanda Simkin

The life of a parent is absolutely exhausting. If you are lucky enough to have children who sleep through the night, you are undoubtedly woken early with requests for snacks and screens (I know it isn’t just me). And after a busy work day either at or outside of the home, whipping up a healthy home cooked meal can sound like torture and make you yearn for the golden arches. But wait! You don’t have to give in to fast food on those nights when you are short on time and energy. Here are 5 dinner ideas for when you are too tired to cook:

Visit your local bar. No, I’m not talking about THAT bar, I’m talking about the soup/salad/sandwich/hot bar at your local grocery store. I stop by my local Mariano’s and make a meal out of the yummy offerings at the hot bar (turkey chili and the roasted carrots are a hit with my kids) and salad bar (I swear, that’s where they keep the freshest fruit in the entire store! You can also pick up a pre-made rotisserie chicken and try one of these amazingly easy recipes.

Make a smorgasbord. I know, I know…it sounds like a ton of work. But it actually isn’t. Simply get out a large platter and fill it with some simple foods that you know your family loves. One of my favorite spreads includes turkey slices, baby carrots, grapes, dried cranberries, pretzels, cubed cheese, and hummus.

Don’t overlook the egg. Add some milk, cheese, veggies, and seasoning and you have a heartwarming meal. I love making frittatas because not only is it easy and quick, but it is also a great way to empty out my fridge. Serve it with some toast and a glass of orange juice and you are all set!

Have an appetizer dinner. I mean, who doesn’t love digging in to some mini crab cakes? How about those melt in your mouth mini quiches? So the next time you are at Whole Foods or Target (they have the BEST frozen appetizers, hands down!), stock up on some appetizers so that you can simply throw some things on a baking sheet and in 10-15 minutes, dinner is DONE.

Keep it simple. Boil some water, drop in some pasta, heat up some jarred sauce. That’s it. If you are feeling really adventurous, cut up some greens and put out a jar of salad dressing. And if I were you, I would even eat off of some paper plates!

Amanda Simkin, a lifelong Chicagoan, created her blog ( to share how she celebrates motherhood in Chicago. She offers “insider’s guides” for both well-known and off-the-beaten-path family-friendly gems. Her fans include Red Tricycle Chicago and Chicago Parent Magazine. You can also follow Amanda on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram,

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