Quick & Easy Meal Ideas: The Remedy for Quarantine Cooking Fatigue

I don’t know about you, but I have spent more time in my kitchen in the past month than any other room in my home. While I do love to cook, even I have grown weary of the constant cooking and cleaning as we have been social distancing at home.  

To preserve my sanity and keep things interesting in my house, we have done some of the following:

  • Shared a meal in the living room or outside for a change of scenery.
  • Taught children to pitch in more with preparing meals, washing dishes, and loading/unloading the dishwasher.
  • Kept to a regular schedule of meal and snack times so the family isn’t constantly grazing.
  • Came together for most meals. We spread out during the day, but mealtime allows us to check in with one another and see how everyone is handling the current situation.

There are days where I just need quick and easy meals to get me through the constant juggling of school, work, and conference call schedules. Here are some of my favorite ways to do this:

Breakfast

  • Make a pot of oatmeal (or big bowl if you make it in the microwave like me) early in the week that can be used for breakfast throughout the week. Boost its nutrition by using milk in place of all or part of the water.
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs are versatile. I make a big pan and let others decide if they want to put it in a wrap, on toast, etc. Any leftovers can be saved for another day or meal.
  • Lay out Greek yogurt, cereal choices and fruit. Everyone can assemble their own parfaits or bowls. Bonus: Greek yogurt has double the protein as regular yogurt, so it will keep everyone full until lunch!

Lunch

  • Lay out leftovers from the refrigerator and sandwich fixings and allow children to decide what they want to fix for themselves.
  • Serve frozen pizza with sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks and fruit on the side.
  • Cut up some fruit and veggies to put on the table to let everyone help themselves.

Dinner

  • Since travel is limited, use food to take a culinary field trip around the world.
    • Pair a bottled tikka masala sauce with your favorite protein and make homemade naan bread, which is surprisingly easy. Or try this one dish tandoori chicken.
    • For a Greek spin, try this wrap.
  • Breakfast for dinner. Clean out any extra vegetables you have on hand and make a frittata or breakfast pizza.

Snacks & Desserts

  • Put out bowls of cut-up fruit and veggies to encourage healthier choices. 
  • Make a strawberry milkshake (blend together frozen strawberries, ice cream and milk) and use leftovers to make your own frozen popsicles. My children love topping their milkshakes with whipped cream to feel like they are in a restaurant.

Even if you love to cook, cooking fatigue is a reality for many of us right now. Use these tips to still enjoy healthy meals at home–and for extra inspiration, check out more delicious recipes from The Dairy Alliance.   

Ann Dunaway Teh, MS RDN CSSD LD, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She is passionate about menu planning and helping families eat better together through her website My Menu Pal.