Recipes for Parents Who Hate to Cook

Here are six easy things to cook, from pizza dough to veggie pancakes to a killer stir-fry. They are healthy and yummy alternatives kids will love.

Hey, moms and dads: Forget those dreams of “one day” cooking well-balanced meals for your family. Own your contempt for the kitchen – and consider these alternative recipes for feeding your kids healthy foods, without slaving over the stove!

For the morning, try a breakfast burrito or veggie pancakes. Need snacks? Try good-for-you green smoothies or the cheesy bean dip (hint: It’s also a great base for tacos!). And for dinner in a pinch: Dress up your own simple homemade pizza dough or whip up an Asian shrimp stir-fry. Here are some easy things to cook for your family.

Easy Breakfast Recipes

Veggie Pancakes

A savory take on an old favorite, these pancakes, from Stacy Goldberg of West Bloomfield nutrition and wellness counseling service What’s in Your Cart? LLC, are chock-full of vegetables. The star is kale – a kind of cruciferous vegetable that provides cholesterol-lowering fiber (plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits). Try it for dinner, too, as a side or main dish (just add all-natural chicken breast or grilled tofu).

  • Cooking time: Under 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4


  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped lacinato kale
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk of choice, including soy or almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil


  1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Beat together egg, milk, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, kale, zucchini and scallions.
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Pour batter by tablespoonfuls into pan, making a few pancakes at a time. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Add remaining oil to pan as needed to cook remaining pancakes.
  6. Serve immediately.

Breakfast Burrito

A perfect on-the-go morning meal, serve these to the kids on-the-fly en route to the school bus. This recipe is from West Bloomfield nutrition and wellness expert Stacy Goldberg of What’s in Your Cart? LLC.

  • Cooking time: Under 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4


  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup drained, rinsed canned black beans, no salt added (Eden Organic or Whole Foods 365 Organic)
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs and 4 egg whites (can be substituted for cage-free liquid egg whites or egg substitute)
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 oz.) hormone- and antibiotic-free reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Olive or grape seed oil cooking spray
  • 4 10-inch whole-wheat or sprouted grain tortillas (burrito-size) (I like Food for Life Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat or 2% Greek style plain yogurt (as sour cream substitute)
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 large tomato (4 oz.), seeded and diced
  • 1 small avocado (4 oz.), cubed or 1/4 cup guacamole


  1. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook onion and peppers until onions and peppers are soft; about 7-9 minutes.
  3. Add black beans and red pepper flakes and cook until warmed through, another 4 minutes.
  4. Lightly season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a dish.
  5. Whisk together the eggs and egg whites then stir in the cheese.
  6. Spray the skillet with cooking spray, and reheat the skillet over a medium heat.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add eggs, scrambling until cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  8. Spread each tortilla with 1 tablespoon each Greek yogurt and salsa, then layer with 1/4 of the black bean mixture, 1/4 of the scrambled eggs, some diced tomato and 1/4 of the avocado or guacamole.
  9. Roll up into a burrito and enjoy!

Easy Snack Recipes

Lynne’s Cheesy Bean Dip

Lynne Meredith Golodner, a writer and mom in southeast Michigan, shares a family go-to dish that’s popular with her four kids.


  • Diced onions
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 can beans, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste, or taco seasonings
  • 1 can corn kernels
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Grated cheese


  1. Saute diced onion and garlic in olive oil.
  2. Add a can of rinsed beans of your choice (we prefer pinto beans!).
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste or season with half a packet of taco seasoning.
  4. Let cool; then, puree in a food processor.
  5. Mix with a can of corn kernels, diced tomatoes and grated cheese.
  6. Bake until bubbly.
  7. Use as a taco base or as a dip.

Tropical Green Smoothies

Nutrient-packed greens offer a healthy punch in this simple raw recipe from Andrea McNinch, a local nutritionist.


  • 2 cucumbers (skin on – where all the nutrients are!)
  • 1/2 pineapple (fresh or frozen – read label; make sure nothing added)
  • Water from a young Thai coconut (the highest source of electrolytes found in nature)
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla (or 1/2 vanilla bean; can throw in, pod and all)


Blend until smooth. Can add ice, frozen coconut water or frozen pineapple for a more ice-creamy texture.

Other tips

  1. Always start out 60% fruit and 40% greens. Flip-flop once palate adjusts: 60% greens; 40% fruit.
  2. To save money and get the best nutrients, buy organic fresh fruit when in season on sale, wash and freeze.
  3. For kids, when you first introduce them to it: Have an “alien juice” or “mermaid juice” party to warm them up to the new green beverage.

Easy Dinner Recipes

Lynne’s Favorite Homemade Pizza Dough

Skip the greasy $5 bargain. Make this base in advance and just add some sauce, cheese and toppings. This recipe is from Lynne Meredith Golodner, a writer and mom of four from southeast Michigan.


  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 1/2 cups white flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil


  1. Combine yeast, flour, oil and salt in a food processor. Turn on the machine and slowly add water through the feed tube. Process until dough forms a sticky ball and all ingredients coalesce into a solid clump of dough.
  2. Dump the dough ball into a bowl with room to allow the dough to rise. Drizzle oil over the top and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise at least two hours or all day.
  3. When ready, use your fingers to stretch the dough into a pizza round and cover with sauce, cheese and toppings.
  4. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until dough browns and cheese is bubbly.

Asian Shrimp Quinoa Stir-fry

Replacing traditional rice with quinoa makes this stir-fry so special. Quinoa, with its rich, nutty flavor, is not only high in protein, but is also a source of complete protein – one that includes all nine essential amino acids. In addition, quinoa is a great source of the mineral magnesium, which may help alleviate symptoms of migraine headaches and atherosclerosis. This recipe is from West Bloomfield nutrition and wellness expert Stacy Goldberg of What’s in Your Cart? LLC.

  • Cooking time: Under 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4


  • 1 cup red or black quinoa, rinsed (can purchase premade at Whole Foods Prepared Foods Bar, or Trader Joe’s to cut out first step below if short on time)
  • Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. canola or grape seed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh shelled edamame
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp, chopped, tails off


  1. Place red quinoa, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  3. Spoon out into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Heat a wok or large skillet.
  5. Add oil and ginger.
  6. Over a medium-high flame, saute onion and then celery until partially cooked.
  7. Add 4 cups cooked quinoa and tamari, stir once, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Add edamame, shrimp and white wine cover and cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Serve hot.

This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2016.

Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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