What's the -Least- complicated meal you're ever prepared?

Inspired, of course by a current thread:

Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, and don’t mind the prep work if the end result is tasty or what I wanted, but sometimes you cook something that is perfect (to you at least) with minimal work. So Share!

THE RULES - Dish cannot be a “just add water” or “reheat” option. It should have three steps or more, although they don’t have to be super complicated, so kits or partially prepped options are fine.

My example is matzoh ball soup. Sometimes, especially in late November or February, when it’s cold and somewhat humid without being snowy, all I want is a simple, not to heavy soup.

In these cases, I get a default Manischewitz Matzo Ball and Soup Mix (the old one box options). I make it exactly according to the on the box instructions - beat egg, add oil to egg, slowly add meal mix, and let sit for 15 minutes in fridge while boiling a pot of water, to which the soup package gets mixed.

To the extent I mod it at all, I normally sub 1/3 of the water with homemade stock of which I have plenty after Thanksgiving, just sitting in the freezer. And I also add a bunch of extra dried dill.

But that’s it. Easy, tasty, and brings me back - my grandmother made it this way (all from the box) although my father would do the cook a chicken in a pot all day with carrots and celery to make his broth and then add the meat and veg back into the broth once his matzo balls (sinkers, Boo!!!) were cooked.

NOTE - your meal doesn’t have to be a comfort meal, it can be something you threw together in a hurry, or made something magnificent with only a little work. Up to you!

Carroll Shelby’s chili mix. Stir-fry hamburger, add the mix and some canned tomato sauce. And a can of pinto beans, if you want. Voila, dinner!

My low-effort go-to: chop broccoli. Add to pan with 2 cups water, bring to boiling. Throw in brick of instant ramen. Add a protein—leftover chicken, can of chopped clams, shrimp even. Mix in flavor packet and done.

Of course, that can be as simple or complicated as I want. I’ve started simple and ended up adding minced garlic, ginger, mushrooms, bell peppers, chili peppers, sesame oil, homemade stock, etc. until it was a pretty complicated bowl of ramen.

Probably spaghetti. Brown some hamburger, open a jar of spaghetti sauce and pour it over the hamburger, let it simmer while you boil some spaghetti. While the pasta is boiling throw a bag of steam-in-bag veggies in the microwave.

My default pasta dish:

  • Pasta
  • Pesto
  • Grated cheese
  • Hot sauce

Cowboy Stew:
Hamburger meat, fried and drained.
Can of beans. No need to drain.
BBQ sauce.

You can add lots to it. Onions, bell peppers, garlic, rice, canned corn, hominy, mushrooms. But the kids generally liked it plain.

Is anyone else remembering David Spade’s choppin broco-li?
My answer would be spaghetti.

Honey on toast when I was a kid. The OP’s required three steps:

  1. Toast bread (lightly).
  2. Pour honey on it.
  3. Eat.


More seriously, I produced a lot of “three-cornered meals” over the years:

  1. Pan fry or grill a slab of beef, pork, or chicken. Seasoning can be nil, simple, or elaborate, but nothing beyond sprinkling dry seasoning on it.
  2. Steam up a pile of green veg, whether fresh or frozen. Again maybe a smidgen of seasoning, but usually not.
  3. Bake some potatoes or throw some rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc., in the rice cooker. Maybe add butter when done.
  4. Eat.

Personally, I like honey on toast. :slight_smile: Looks like step 1 was - “Stop talking about it, make it and eat it!”

Pour cereal in bowl. Put cinnamon on cereal. Put soy milk on cereal. Serve to wife with great fanfare.

I often make something that we call Quick and dirty chicken parmesan. Get a bag of those frozen chicken patties, add some shredded Italian cheese, add a jar of spaghetti sauce, a quick dusting of the stuff in the green can, and bake for about half an hour. Done. We’re having it for dinner matter of fact.

Spaghetti and meatballs is my go to meal on worknights when I don’t have any leftovers and don’t feel like cooking anything complicated.

Get a package of frozen meatballs from the local butcher (I always have one in my freezer)
Defrost in the microwave, then brown them.
Add a jar of pasta sauce, throw the lid on and let it simmer
While the meatballs and sauce are simmering, boil a pot of water and cook the spaghetti.
Assemble the pasta and sauce/meatballs on a plate.

ETA: When I was a kid we’d make English muffin pizzas:

Slice an English muffin in half
Top with jarred red sauce, shredded mozzarella, and a few pieces of pepperoni.
Bake in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted.

Pita topped with ajvar, whatever melty cheese we have handy, and toasted in the toaster oven. Top with a crispy fried egg, break the yolk with a fork, sprinkle with smoked paprika and Penzey’s Fox Point. Maybe a slice of prosciutto under the cheese if we have some handy.

Shrimp 'n Grits. Looks complicated, tastes like you slaved away.

Make grits and replace water with 2 parts chicken stock 1 part milk.

Fry bacon. Remove bacon.

Add shrimp to bacon grease plus green onions and whatever spice you think is nice and then splash some chicken stock in.

Put cheese in grits, put grits in bowl, put shrimp on grits, put bacon on shrimps. Eat. Mmmmmm!

Dana Carvey:

Gazpacho made with V8 Hot & Spicy (Spicy Hot in the US). Throw it in the blender with a bag of ready cut coleslaw or mixed salad and blitz it. You can add any bits and pieces of vegetables that you have about - onion, cucumber, bell peppers or zucchini. A splash of olive oil or some acid; a favorite vinegar, lime or lemon juice to taste if you like. Couple of ice cubes if you want it really cold - it’s hot here at the moment.
Pour into a bowl and top with croutons or fried shallots. Or, if you are alone, just drink it slowly like a milkshake, well thickshake really.

Chicken Marsala is probably not the absolute least complicated, but it is deceptively simple yet still seems “fancy”.

Here’s how I make it:
Pound some boneless skinless chicken breasts until they’re about 1/4 inch thick
Season them with salt, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of oregano, then dredge them in flour.
Fry them in butter and olive oil until they’re a little brown on each side, but not completely cooked through.
Add about 1/2 cup Marsala wine, 1/4 cup sherry, and some sliced mushrooms to the pan
Put the lid on and simmer until the chicken is done cooking.

Probably Healthy Hash: I keep a gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer filled with diced potatoes, frozen pearl onions and frozen Southwest Vegetables. I dump a bunch on the tray for the Ninja Foodi, broil for 12 minutes or so, then bowl, dress and eat. It’s best with a buttload of varied paprikas and a touch of quality oil.

B&M baked bean sandwich on wheat bread with a little chopped onion and soy sauce.

Heinz baked beans on buttered white toast.

Chopped hot dogs and Heinz beans heated in a microwave, with a spoonful of ketchup or BBQ sauce.

Tonight’s dinner was very simple. Baking sheet from the toaster oven, and aluminum foil sprayed with PAM. frozen chicken breast tenderloins with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Frozen broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Fold the foil over the broccoli, and put in the toaster oven for half an hour at about 300ºF.

Chicken-and-broccoli is my go-to when my wife doesn’t want dinner. My other (less used) go-to is ground beef cooked with garlic, salt, pepper, and broccoli florets, and eaten with mayonnaise. I cook that in a pot.