Takeout isn’t always the answer.
Credit: Photo: Romulo Yanes

Sometimes, you just really don’t want to cook. There’s no shame in it; we’ve all been there. On the flip side, though, it's not always practical to order takeout, either. After all, it’s pricey, often not healthy, and can take a long time to be delivered. In these instances, there’s only one real solution: meals you can cook that hardly require an effort — and we’re not just talking about cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. Instead, the next time you find yourself in one of those moments, whip up one of these low-lift yet satisfying dinners.

Credit: Karen Rankin

Air Fryer Veggie Quesadillas

These quesadillas are filling without being heavy, but the real beauty lies in how customizable these tasty bites are. While we recommend zucchini, bell pepper, and black beans, you can use anything you have on hand to fill them. Have leftover chicken or broccoli on hand? Toss it in! Plus, the air fryer makes quick work of melting the cheese and crisping up the tortillas, so you'll have a meal that's ready to eat in just 10 minutes. One quick note — use a toothpick to hold the quesadillas together while they're cooking; otherwise, the air fryer can blow the tortillas apart.

Credit: Photo: Romulo Yanes

Nutty Fried Rice

Fried rice is the ultimate quick-fix meal. If you have leftover rice on hand, you're already more than halfway there. Otherwise, microwave rice makes quick work of it. This recipe calls for roasted cashews and peanut butter to ensure that the meal is filling and full of protein, even though it's meatless. If you have a peanut allergy (or just don't have peanut butter on hand), feel free to swap for almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower butter. The nuts can be easily switched out, too — use what you've got!

Credit: Greg DuPree

Simple, Delicious Pasta Aglio e Olio

Aglio e Olio translates to garlic and oil, which are the two main components you need to make this quick and satisfying pasta dish. While we recommend using walnut oil for extra nutty flavor, you can certainly use olive oil if that's what you have on hand. If you want an extra boost of protein, feel free to toss in shrimp or chicken. Otherwise, enjoy this pasta as-is and appreciate the simplicity of this classic meal.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Creamy Soft-Scrambled Eggs

Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea — especially when you don't really want to cook. You most likely already have eggs and butter in the fridge, which means you don't have to do any shopping or planning. While these scrambled eggs are super-simple, the creaminess will make you think you ordered them at a restaurant. Plus, they're rich without adding any cheese! Use what you have in the fridge or pantry to round out the meal. If you have bread on hand, feel free to make toast. Otherwise, scrambled eggs can be served over rice, a tortilla, or even a bed of greens.

Credit: Kelsey Hansen

Quick Lemony Greek Chicken Soup

Soup may seem like it takes a lot of effort, but you're really just tossing ingredients in the pot. This recipe only takes 20 minutes to come together, and it clocks in at 32 grams of protein and just 261 calories per serving — not bad for a quick-fix dinner! As an added bonus, this soup is the definition of comfort food. The eggs ensure a velvety feel and the lemon adds a bright pop of flavor. You most likely have a lot of the required ingredients on hand already (like chicken broth, olive oil, and eggs), but it's also a great way to use up odds and ends from previous meals.

Credit: Cooking Light

Loaded Cauliflower Bowls

This low-carb dinner is deceptively simple. Cauliflower roasts in just 15 minutes and serves as the base for this filling meal. Once the cauliflower is cooked, add bacon, shredded cheese, sour cream, and cooked bacon (which fries up quickly if you don't already have some). You'll have a super-easy dinner that came together in a flash — and it will taste just like your favorite loaded baked potato!

Credit: Greg DuPree

Chickpea and Kale Curry

Vegan meals don't have to be high maintenance. This 25-minute dinner is full of protein, thanks to chickpeas and quinoa, and is full of fiber, too. Plus, most of the ingredients, like canned chickpeas and peanut butter, come straight from the pantry. The peanut butter and spices will add plenty of flavor to the dish, while coconut milk ensures a rich, creamy texture. It's all cooked in one pan, too — so there's hardly anything to clean up at the end. Leftovers can be refrigerated and enjoyed for another meal, but we won't be surprised if you eat it all the first night.

Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell

Tuna, Egg, and Avocado Toast

The best low-maintenance dinners don't require you to turn on the stove, like this upgraded avocado toast. Tuna is combined with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, hard-boiled eggs, and salt and pepper to make a light-yet-tasty tuna salad. Scoop the tuna salad over smashed avocado on toast for a quick, filling meal that came together in a snap. If you don't have bread on hand, the mixture will work with pasta, greens, or grains, too.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Herby Pea and Lemon Pasta Salad

Pasta and frozen peas seem to always be kicking around the kitchen. Put them to good use with this bright, springy pasta salad. This is another customizable meal that can easily suit any needs. If you don't have chicken or prefer to eat meatless, swap it out for crumbled feta or goat cheese. If you prefer your pasta salad extra meaty, try tossing in a few handfuls of crumbled bacon. And, if you have a nut allergy or don't have them on hand, try toasted breadcrumbs or sunflower seeds instead. The sky's the limit when it comes to pasta salad, and with plenty of herbs and lemon juice, it's sure to satisfy no matter what combination you try.