Food & Nutrition

20 5-Ingredient-or-Fewer Meals for Anyone Seriously Sick of Cooking Right Now

Beat burnout with these deliciously undemanding dishes.

Kitchen burnout is real, people. After continuous weeks or months of prepping meals at home, even the most avid cooks can slam into a wall of sheer mental exhaustion, the thought of making one more thing completely overwhelming. I’m here to tell you that this feeling is 100% valid—and not just because I’m personally prone to it. It’s OK to resent cooking sometimes. But sometimes, you have to cook anyway.

Let spring of 2020 stand as our example. With nationwide stay-at-home measures in effect to curb the spread of COVID-19, many of us spent March and April more or less confined to our kitchens. Sure, some of us happily threw ourselves into culinary projects like baking, filling social media feeds with three-day time lapse videos of sourdough starters coming to life. Others, however, quickly tired of the toil—cooking around the clock, day after day, meal after meal (not to mention snacks). SOS!

Here’s what I learned during those weeks: To outsmart cooking burnout, it helps to strategically scale back. Minimize your exposure to That Which Is Driving You Nuts. You want recipes that are lightning-fast. You want dishes that bring together just a handful of basic ingredients in delicious ways that belie their simplicity. 

If you’re feeling less than thrilled about cooking these days, the following dinner and lunch recipes are for you. Each calls for no more than five ingredients (not counting oil, nonstick spray, salt, and black pepper). Prep time for all is just five to 20 minutes. Make a quick getaway from the kitchen and dig in already.


Leslie Fink, MS, RD, has been working at WW for 20 years. In addition to her role as a nutritionist and recipe editor, she works on food and program development for a variety of projects, including WW cruises, WW Ambassador partnerships, WW Fresh, and WW x Blue Apron.


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