If you've been on TikTok recently, you'll no doubt have seen the new craze hitting kitchens everywhere: lazy girl dinners. And we're here for it. If it's delicious and easy to make, we're in. But you don't need to go on TikTok to see what the fuss is about. All you need to do is follow five simple rules for easier dinners at home. From a few key pieces of equipment to staple pantry and fridge ingredients, here are our five tenets of lazy girl dinners. Follow them and tasty meals (without the stress or time suck) are in your future.
Grab Your Sheet Pan
Some people are all about one-pot meals, but we're trading in our big Dutch ovens for the sheet pan for quick and easy meals. Here's why: with one pot, you're left mixing every ingredient together. This is great for soups and stews, but what happens when you want to keep ingredients separate? Plus, a sheet pan in a hot oven allows for browning — lots of it. That means you can have crispy chicken cutlets, charred broccoli, and burnished sweet potatoes all on the same pan.
The trick with sheet-pan meals is going to be getting your cooking times right, since some foods take longer to cook than others. When it comes to vegetables, cut everything into uniform pieces. If you want to brown some already cooked sausages, add them in the last 10 minutes after your other ingredients are starting to get nice and toasty.
We even love roasting vegetables in a sheet pan straight from freezer. Take this frozen broccoli with a cheesy gratin sauce. Pour it onto your sheet pan, and bake until everything is golden and bubbly. No defrosting required.
Of course, the sheet pan doesn't need to just be for roasted meat and vegetables. You can use it to cook pizza, too. Pick up your favorite dough, roll it out, and top it with your go-to ingredients. Or lay out frozen hors d'oeuvres you have sitting in the freezer and bake them all for yourself. Might we recommend these frozen mac and cheese balls?
Meet the Air Fryer-Toaster Oven
If you don't have time to wait for the oven to heat up, we get it. Especially if you're cooking for one, the air-fryer toaster oven is where it's at. Use the little sheet pan as you would for your larger sheet-pan meals — fill it with broccoli or some chickpeas or a piece of fish (or a combo), then turn your toaster oven to its air-fry setting. It will heat up to 450 degrees in just a few minutes, cutting your cook times way down.
Love Thy Canned Beans
You don't need to be a vegetarian or vegan to rely on beans for vital nutrients. Beans are full of protein and fiber, quick-cooking, and delicious, whether you're popping them into your favorite canned soup, sprinkling them over salad, or mashing them into hummus or dip.
If you or your kids don't love the soft texture of beans, don't fret. We have a way to make them extra-crispy and flavorful. Put chickpeas in a single layer on your sheet pan, drizzle them with olive oil, shake over your favorite spice rub, and put them in a 400-degree oven until they getting a little brown. These little crispy chickpeas are delightful crouton substitutes or just a great snack when you need a quick energy boost.
Eggs Are the Lazy Girl Workhorse
Eggs have the crazy ability to transform all sorts of dishes. Not only are they great on their own — who doesn't love an omelet for dinner? — but they can make leftovers interesting again. For example, poach an egg to add flavor and some luxury to an average salad or drizzle egg into some soup for added protein. We love tossing leftovers into an egg mixture for a savory quiche and putting an over-easy egg on everything from sandwiches to risotto for extra creaminess. All we're saying is that if you have eggs in the fridge, you're halfway to a great meal, lazy or otherwise.
When in Doubt, Add More Cheese
We don't like to hyperbolize, but more cheese = better, always. Heating up a frozen lasagna? Add a flurry of imported parm. Got some great tomatoes? Pair them with some sliced mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic. Making boxed mac and cheese? Add more cheese to it because more cheese is better every time. When it comes to making lazy girl dinners, cheese is your friend. Why? Because it delivers on comfort, whether you're making a grilled cheese or putting together a mishmash of leftovers from your fridge. And should you be on TikTok, everyone loves that cheese pull.