Traditional recipes

8 No-Cook Dishes That Will Make Weeknights Way Easier to Handle

8 No-Cook Dishes That Will Make Weeknights Way Easier to Handle

Because no one wants to turn the oven on when it’s hot out


Want to bolster a no-cook meal? Add a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or a loaf of crusty bread.

Summer is officially here this week, which means the days are longer and sunnier — and the last thing that most of us want is to be cooped up in the kitchen, sweating over a home-cooked meal. Luckily, there are lots of delicious, easy, no-bake recipes that you can make instead.

Click here for the 8 No-Cook Dishes That Will Make Weeknights Way Easier to Handle (Slideshow)

One of the common complaints about no-cook dinners is that they lack the protein or carbohydrates to keep you full. To some extent, this can be true, since starches and most animal proteins need to be cooked before they can be eaten. But before you give up on the idea of a hearty and delicious no-cook dinner, consider these facts: there are many sources of plant-based protein that can be eaten raw (nuts and seeds, for example) and heart-healthy fats like avocado can help you feel fuller longer.

If you want to bolster your no-cook meal further, you can always buy a few pre-made items (or cook a few ingredients on the weekend and have them ready to go on weeknights) for convenience. Many no-cook meals could easily be bulked up by the addition of items like shredded, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or cold canned beans. In other cases, you can simply serve a loaf of crusty bread alongside your no-cook entrée for a complete meal.

Whatever you decide, you’ll be glad you have these recipes on hand for hot summer nights.

The great thing about avocado tartines (aka avocado toast) is that the creative possibilities are near-endless. Top yours with thin slices of roast beef and red onion or with slices of hard-boiled egg and juicy heirloom tomatoes. You can even set out a variety of toppings and let everyone create their own.

If you’re looking for an easy, no-cook seafood recipe, then you have to try making ceviche. It’s as easy as combining some ingredients in a bowl, waiting, and then spooning the citrus-“cooked” fish onto tostadas or into an avocado half.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

Top 10 healthy no-cook dinners

See our easiest ever healthy dinners – there's no cooking required! Our simple mains include chicken, fish and vegetarian options, perfect for a midweek meal.

Feel good about your midweek meals with our healthy dinners. Amateur chefs fear not – these recipes are perfect for beginners as they don’t require any cooking. Simply prep your ingredients in 25 minutes or less and dinner is on the table.

Featuring salads, soups and rice dishes, these recipes are full of bold flavours like chipotle, chilli and Asian-inspired ingredients. We feature low-calorie dishes and plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Take the stress out of weeknights and spend less time in the kitchen with our top recipes.

See our ultimate quick and healthy recipe collection for more speedy meals.

1) Bang bang chicken cups

Top lettuce leaves with cooked chicken, colourful veggies and a bold peanut & sweet chilli sauce in our highly rated bang bang chicken cups recipe. This speedy dinner comes together in just 10 minutes. Use leftover chicken from a Sunday roast to help clear out the fridge. Cut cucumber, spring onion and carrot into fine matchsticks for a crunchy topping. These healthy lettuce cups are low in calories and gluten-free.

For more tasty low-cal meals, see our low-calorie collection.

2) Smashed cannellini bean tartine

3) No-cook chicken couscous

For more ways to use up chicken, see our leftover chicken collection.

4) Chipotle gazpacho

Discover our healthy chipotle gazpacho, full of bold flavours like red chili, fresh garlic, spicy chipotle and zingy lime juice. For this easy, no-cook soup, whizz the tomatoes and other ingredients in a blender and leave to chill for two hours. Make a chunky salsa by tossing spring onion, avocado, chilli, coriander and lime juice together. This vegetarian and gluten-free gazpacho contains three of your five-a-day and is loaded with vitamin C.

5) Quick chicken hummus bowl

Pack in three of your five-a-day with this quick chicken hummus bowl. Start with an easy dressing by mixing creamy hummus, lemon and water, then combine with cooked mixed grains. Pile on cooked chicken, rich avocado, pomegranate seeds, red onion, toasted almonds and extra hummus. This filling supper takes just 10 minutes preperation and serves two.

6) Garden salmon salad

Use up leftover salmon with this light garden salmon salad. This low-calorie salad is jam-packed with veg, including courgettes, fresh shelled peas, radishes and pea shoots. Simply cut the courgettes into ribbons and toss with the remaining veg, chunky salmon and light dressing. Scatter over mixed seeds and dill to serve and finish with a good grinding of black pepper.

7) Asian prawn & pineapple salad

8) Chilli crab with shaved fennel & parsley salad

For more seafood dishes, see our healthy fish recipes.

9) Green cucumber & mint gazpacho

10) No-cook Asian prawn coleslaw

For more simple dinners, see our easy healthy recipes.

Enjoyed these quick no-cook dinners? See more recipes…

Which no-cook healthy meal do you want to try? Leave a comment below…

Slow-Cook & No-Cook Weeknight Dinners for Hot Nights

The only part of this dish that requires cooking is the pasta, and you could sub in leftover pasta if you&aposve got any from the weekend. Then just toss in the veggies and herbs and dinner is served! 

Tuesday: Red Chile-Chicken Tacos

Let your slow cooker do the work for you this Taco Tuesday! Marinate your chicken overnight or in the morning, then stick it in the slow cooker 3 or 4 hours before dinner. All that&aposs left is mixing up the slaw, which only only requires chopping. 

Wednesday: Pan Bagnat

Sandwiches are a great way to get a filling meal without firing up the oven or range. We like these Pan Bagnats, which use canned tuna and plenty of fresh veggies, but also try our Veggie Flatbread Sandwiches and Greek Salad Clubs for easy no-cook sammies this summer. 

Thursday: Italian Antipasti Chef&aposs Salad

Photography by Kate Mathis

Don&apost think this qualifies as dinner? Take it from Rach herself: ""When John and I entertain, I make this salad as a starter. But on a hot summer night, it&aposs more than enough for a meal." 

Friday: Cola Pulled Pork Sandwiches

You can&apost beat this recipe in the summer. Just toss the three ingredients (yep, only three!) into you slow cooker and come back 8 hours later to tender, moist pork just begging to be enjoyed al fresco. Serve with our slow-cooker blackberry cordialsਏor a true treat. 

8 Smart Ways to Keep Cool in the Kitchen This Summer

Summer can really turn up the heat in your kitchen here’s how how to keep cool with summer recipes and smart cooking tips for when it’s just too hot.

While a warm and cozy kitchen feels nice in the winter, it can be stifling when temperatures ramp up in the summer. Using large appliances, such as your oven or stove, can make your kitchen too hot to handle. The heat can even spread to other areas of your home and make your air conditioning work overtime.

But you don’t have to choose between cooking and staying cool this summer. Try these strategies for keeping yourself well fed without wilting.

1. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is the number one rule for any summer activity, and cooking is no exception—even if you’re indoors. If you’re working in the kitchen, always have a glass of water with ice ready to drink from as you go. Want to punch it up a bit? Try water infusions for more flavor and refreshment. Planning to sweat? Add sea salt and lemon to boost electrolytes and flavor.

2. Don’t Cook

Don’t want to heat up your kitchen? Don’t cook. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat. Focus on no-cook, fresh foods, such as summer salads, ceviche, and cold noodles. Even slicing up fresh fruit or vegetables like cucumbers and melons can be a refreshing and healthy summer treat. And no-cook foods help beat the heat in two ways: by not heating up your kitchen or your body as you consume them.

3. Cook Outside

Take the heat out of the kitchen by cooking outdoors this summer. BBQ grilled chicken or steaks are classics for the grill, but don’t forget you can grill summer favorites like corn on the cob or watermelon, too. You might be hot while you’re outside using a grill or smoker to heat foods, but your kitchen can stay cool.

See more ways to use your grill:

4. Use Small Appliances

Minimizing oven and stove use can help you avoid heating up your kitchen. Small appliances can cook your food just as well while emitting less heat than large appliances. Think: toaster oven instead of your wall oven, or a panini press instead of the stovetop. You’d be surprised how versatile small appliances can be. Your slow cooker and Instant Pot aren’t just for winter soups and stews, either. Think of summer recipes you can achieve on your countertop, like Instant Pot pork carnitas. And don’t turn your nose up at your microwave, which can help you zap rice, quinoa, vegetables, and more while generating practically no heat.

Check out these recipe collections for more ideas:

5. Batch Cook

If you’re going to heat up your kitchen, make it worth it. When you use your oven or stovetop, make larger quantities than normal. That way, you can use pre-cooked leftovers, which means you have food ready to go without heating up your kitchen again. For example, if you roast a chicken in your oven, you can use leftovers to make tacos, chicken salad, nachos, and other meals that don’t require firing up your oven again.

6. Cook When It’s Cool

Cooking in your kitchen when it’s already hot outside (and maybe already hot in your home) means you’ll only add to the heat. Plan ahead and strategize your cooking times for when it’s not as hot. The best time to cook to avoid the heat is in the morning or later in the evening. That might sound easier said than done, but you could bake bread in the morning, or cook proteins or pastas with breakfast so they’ll be ready to go for dinner.

7. Use Fans

Air flow can help cool down your kitchen. If you’re using your stove, turn on the range hood vent. It’s there to remove not just grease, fumes, and odors, but smoke, heat, and steam that could get trapped and heat up your kitchen while you’re cooking. Plus, you can keep a fan on in the kitchen to move air around and cool it down. You can also position your fan to move hot air out, or bring cold air in with a cool, wet towel.

Battery Operated Kitchen Fan with Suction Cup, $19.99 from Amazon

Keep your cool even in the smallest spaces.

8. Limit Lighting

Sunlight and even artificial interior light can generate heat, and when you’re in the heat of summer, every degree counts. Dim the lights, shut curtains, close your blinds, and limit how many lights you turn on. You don’t need to work in the dark, but be wary of turning on lots of overhead lights.

Classic Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy and sophisticated, classic fettuccine Alfredo is easy and quick to make for a weeknight dinner when you're really rushed. Whether you're dining alone, serving a family, or want to impress drop-in guests, you can pull off this elegant recipe in 20 minutes—and it's most delicious when served right away.

31 Crockpot Freezer Meals for Busy Weeknights

I have three young children (and a fourth on the way) so I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Instead of scrambling in the kitchen every night, I spend an hour prepping crockpot freezer meals over the weekend and that’s all the cooking that I need to do for the week.

Here’s why crockpot freezer meals are a game-changer:

  • They don’t require any cooking ahead of time, so they’re very quick and easy to prep.
  • They cook for the first time out of the freezer and don’t taste like leftovers at all. Yay!
  • You can save a lot of money by prepping a bunch of meals at once.

When I’m prepping freezer meals, I combine the ingredients in plastic baggies, remove as much air as possible, and freeze for up to three months. I’ve made hundreds of crockpot freezer meals this way and they’re all healthy, delicious, and easy to make. Since this is such a hectic time of year, I decided to compile of list of my 31 favorites that are perfect for busy weeknights.

If you’re nervous about mixing raw meat and vegetables, don’t be. I did a lot of research when I was writing my No Cook Freezer Meals cookbook and, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, freezing to 0 °F inactivates any microbes present in food (such as bacteria, yeasts, and molds). That means freezing raw meat with vegetables, sauces, and spices is perfectly safe.

If you’re hesitant to freeze so many new recipes at once, I recommend trying a couple for dinner this week. Once you see how delicious they are you’ll want to stock your freezer ASAP. Enjoy!

Here’s what you will need to make my baked spaghetti recipe:

There’s nothing spectacular happening here. The zesty tomato sauce will come together with the ground beef and pasta to create a magical Million Dollar Spaghetti casserole that everyone will rave about but there’s no secret ingredients. If you’ve tried my One Pan Pizza Pasta Casserole, you know how simple ingredients yield the best dinners sometimes.

These are all likely things you have on hand right now. If you are looking for a way to elevate your regular spaghetti night, give this baked million dollar spaghetti a try, it will be your new favorite! I may even like it better than my Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs Casserole. I will say that it is a toss-up, for sure.

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ of a large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 6 cups red pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)
  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Can I use a different kind of ground meat?

You can use whatever kind of ground meat you have on hand. Ground beef works well but ground turkey or chicken will also work pretty nicely in this recipe. If you have one or the other readily available feel free to swap it out, the tangy sauce and cheeses will handle the bulk of the flavor no matter which kind of meat you use!

4 of 18

Tomato-Curry Poached Eggs Shakshuka

If you're craving breakfast for dinner, look no further than this one-skillet shakshuka dish. It's healthy, hearty, and packed with flavorful spices like ginger, cumin, and curry powder along with filling eggs. Fair warning: it's spicy! Serve plain yogurt on the side for anyone who wants to cool things down.

Ingredients: Eggs, yellow onion, mild harissa, garlic, curry powder, honey, ground cumin, ginger, crushed tomatoes, scallions

Calories: 182

How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

For Babies

Most people think they have to let their baby &ldquocry it out&rdquo at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method&mdashor gentle sleep training&mdashis just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress. [6] What is gentle sleep training?

Gentle Sleep Training

This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that&rsquos not too early. A child that isn&rsquot tired will only fight sleep.

Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it&rsquos later than you&rsquod prefer. You&rsquoll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you&rsquoll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

2. Sleep With Parental Presence

With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less. [7]

Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime: [8]

  • Help set their &ldquointernal clock&rdquo by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
  • Block blue light exposure.
  • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
  • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
  • Don&rsquot force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
  • Avoid late afternoon naps
  • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
  • Feed baby right before bed.
  • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

For Elementary-Aged Children

It&rsquos easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it&rsquos never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child&rsquos sleep.

These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period. [9]

  • Offer them a nutritious snack.
  • Bathe them.
  • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
  • Read them a story.
  • Sing them a song.
  • Cuddle or massage them.
  • Talk about the day.

For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

For Teens

They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They&rsquore usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest. [10]

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Avoid late-night binging.
  • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Talk through problems.