What Moms Feed Their Kids When They Don't Feel Like Cooking

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Tuesday nights are kind of a train wreck at my house. My husband usually has to work, so I'm in charge of making sure the big kid has homework done, and then there's track practice and bath time. Somewhere along the way I've got to make sure everyone, including my fairly picky little kid, gets something to eat. Actual cooking? That's just not happening. So what's a busy mom to do when things just seem like they can't go according to plan (if there is a plan at all)? She has to improvise with some quick and dirty cooking. 

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The truth is, there are some nights when the thought of having to create a meal at the stove just seems like too much. The good news is, there are actually a lot of tasty no-cook options out there that hit all my check marks: quick, healthy(ish), and kid friendly. As much as we want to be able to cook a gourmet meal every night of the week, there is no shame in taking shortcuts to get dinner on the table. For the mom who has cooking blogs bookmarked on her computer to the mom who is still trying to figure out how to turn on the microwave, we pulled together 15 great ideas -- from other mamas -- for the next time a mom wants to give her stove the night off. I tried #1 the other night and my kids declared me "best mom ever," so I'm calling this list a success!

  • Yummy Toast

    1

    "Our go-to on nights when we barely have time to eat, let alone cook, is whole grain bread, chocolate hazelnut spread, and sliced bananas. The kids think it is a major treat but it actually has a nice mix of protein, fruit, and fiber." -- Kimberly D., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Kid-Approved Salad

    2

    "Fruit salad is a fave at our house. I just do fruit and top with slivered almonds for some protein and crunch. That and a cup of milk and my 3-year-old is happy as can be." -- Wren D., Fargo, North Dakota

  • The Classic

    3

    "I gotta give the shout-out to the classic: Breakfast for dinner has saved my butt many nights. Cereal, milk, juice, and toast -- DONE." -- Erin A., Boise, Idaho

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  • Peanut Butter Dippers

    4

    "This is so embarrassingly basic but it works. I give each of the kids a dish of peanut butter and then a bunch of stuff to dip in it -- apple slices, graham crackers, carrot sticks (so good with PB!), and some pretzels. We can go from everyone being crazy hungry to eating in under five minutes." -- Rachel T., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Quick Carbs

    5

    "My kids are carb fiends, so any meal has to be carb based. When I don't want to deal with the stove, I sometimes make oatmeal in the microwave. If you use milk instead of water and top it with some fruit and/or chopped nuts, it's actually pretty complete as a meal. Two- and four-year-old approved!" -- Tina W., Tucson, Arizona

  • Smoothie Time

    6

    "Smoothies are the best. Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, a handful of greens, and some juice are all you need. I make this a lot when the kids need to eat in the car while we're running around to swim lessons or whatever. The key is having a good quality blender. I also will serve crackers or something with it if they are super hungry." -- Yolanda G., Fort Worth, Texas

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  • Waffle Sundae

    7

    "What do you get when you toast a few frozen waffles and add some fruit, a squirt of whipped cream, and some chocolate chips or nuts? You get my famous (to my kids) waffle sundae! Listen, this takes five minutes and your kids will think you are a superhero." -- Ullie F., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Fancy PB&J

    8

    "I'm not above doing PB&J for dinner. Add some easy sides (carrot sticks, grapes, crackers) and make the sandwiches grown-up friendly by adding honey or using fancy jam or good quality bread. I'm an adult but about once a month an old-school PB&J hits the spot." -- Irene K., Farmington, New Mexico

  • Pregnant Pass

    9

    "I'm pregnant and the thought of cooking makes me sick. I can't stand the smell of cooking food, especially meat. We've been doing a lot of cold meals lately. Our rotation includes gazpacho (not a hit with my 18-month-old, to be honest), cheese and crackers, cold cereal, pasta salad, and lots of fresh fruit." -- Olivia P., Phoenix, Arizona

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  • Roll It Up

    10

    "Ham and cheese roll-ups are pretty great. For adults we serve tortilla, spread on cream cheese, then add ham, cheese, and a pickle. For the kids, it's just the ham and cheese. Easy peasy!" -- Pam J., Grand Haven, Michigan

  • Two Words

    11

    "Two words: cheese and crackers. Okay, three words, but you get the idea. Serve cheese and crackers, and add some pepperoni or lunch meat if you're feeling fancy." -- Anna N., Grimes, Iowa

  • Spicy Snack Dinner

    12

    "When I'm feeling lazy, we'll do some chips with salsa and guacamole. The kids like it with warmed-up flour tortillas too. We do grapes as a side dish for when things are too spicy." -- Sasha C., Queens, New York

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  • Weird Kid Choice

    13

    "This both kind of grosses me out but also totally works for us. My kids make mini pizzas with jarred sauce, pre-shredded cheese, and pepperoni. And then they just eat it. They don't actually care if I cook it or not. Kids are weird. But I don't have to cook, so Mom win!" -- Diana F., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Pretzel Time

    14

    "Pretzels with peanut butter, pretzels with cream cheese, pretzels with cheese cubes -- are you detecting a theme here? My toddler is a pretzel fiend. I find ways to make it work so I don't have to cook." -- Fiona D., Prescott, Arizona

  • Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

    15

    "God bless the inventor of the grocery store rotisserie chicken. I get one on the way home from work on 'ugh, don't make me cook' nights. The kids each get a drumstick and some fruit, and I call it good. I usually make a quick Cobb salad for my husband and me. Do I use a bagged salad from the grocery store to do this? Yes, yes I do." -- Grace T., Oakdale, Minnesota

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