There was a time when I thought I couldn’t cook. My idea of making dinner was to open the kitchen drawer, pull out one of the many take-out menus from neighborhood restaurants and call for delivery. Of course, I did know how to cook a few things; I just chose not to most of the time. Maybe you’re convinced you can’t cook but I bet you know more than you think you do. Unless you have a personal chef or all the money in the world to keep eating out, you have to know how to cook even just a little bit to survive. Not only is cooking your own dinner more economical, it’s healthier because you choose the ingredients that go into (and stay out of) your meal. So if you think you can’t make your own meals, I say do it anyway. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make great meals even if you’re convinced you can’t cook.

1. If You Have a Blender…


…you can make a smoothie. There is no simpler way to get all your fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and nutrients than to drink them. You don’t even need a recipe; you can just toss whatever fruits and veggies you like into the blender, add some ice, water or non-dairy milk, press a button and stand there for less than one minute until it’s blended. Why spend seven dollars for a smoothie at a juice bar when you can do yourself for a lot less money? Check out How to Save Money on Green Smoothies for frugal-friendly tips. Think it takes too much planning? Read How to Make Smoothie Prep Jars to Save Time. Still need help with ideas? We’re here for you. Take a look at How to Make a Basic Beginner Green Smoothie That Rocks and The Anatomy of a Filling, Healthy Green Smoothie: What to Use and What to Skip. Then give any of these 11 Awesome Green Monster Smoothies and 10 High Protein Smoothie Recipes With Absolutely No Dairy a whirl – don’t worry, they aren’t all green.


2. If You Have a Blender…


…you can also make soup. Yes, soup in a blender. It’s fast, easy, nutritious and delicious. Raw blender soups are perfect for a light and refreshing meal in the warmer months. Just like with smoothies, you just toss the ingredients into the blender, add some herbs and spices, some non-dairy milk if you want a creamy soup, and press blend. Dinner is ready in minutes. Read How to Make Yummy Raw Blended Soups and then try this Raw Cauliflower Crème Soup, Raw White Gazpacho Soup, Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup with Avocado and Miso, Raw Tomato and Red Pepper Soup, Raw Green Pea Soup, and Raw Asparagus Soup.

3. If You Can Boil Water…


…you can make pasta. There’s absolutely nothing else to do to make a big bowl of spaghetti, macaroni or whatever pasta you like. Just boil a big pot of water, add salt and the pasta and cook until it’s just shy of al dente. Then top with whatever sauce you like, whether it’s from a jar or something you throw together yourself. For tips on making the best pasta, see Pasta: How to Avoid 8 Common Cooking Mistakes. For recipe ideas, see Try These 10 Ways to Cook Pasta with International Flair and 7 Variations on Vegan Pasta Sauce to Try. In less than half an hour, you can be sitting down to a delicious bowl of Pasta Primavera with Creamy Alfredo Sauce, Vegan Linguine with Greens, Chickpeas and Almonds, and Lemon-Butter Fettuccine with Parsley and Pine Nuts.


4. If You Have a Vegetable Peeler…


…you can make a “pasta” dish without boiling water. Zucchini noodles, also called zoodles, are all the rage as are “noodles” made from a wide variety of vegetables. You don’t need any fancy gadgets to make veggie noodles; I make them using a julienne peeler to make thin “noodles” similar to those made by spiralizers. But before I had that julienne peeler, I used the regular vegetable peeler to make wide ribbon “noodles” and if I wanted them thinner, I used a knife to slice them. See How to Make Vegetable Noodles without a Spiralizer to learn more. Then learn about all the different types of veggie noodles you can make in Switch Up Your Pasta Game – How to Use Spiralized Veggies as Noodles and How to Turn Any Vegetable or Fruit Into a Grain-Free Noodle and the Best Ones for the Job. Once you’re ready to make your own veggie noodles, try this Avocado Herb Pesto with Zoodles, Pepperoni Pizza Zoodles, Raw Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce, Miso Roasted Tomatoes with Carrot Noodles, Sweet Raw Yam Noodles with Mushrooms and Sesame Seeds, and Coconut-Curry Butternut Squash Noodles.

5. If You Can Turn On the Oven…

Roasted-Veggies-With-Buttery-Garlic-and-Spinach-Salad--1200x800 (1)

…you can make roasted vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweet flavors of veggies as the natural sugars cook. Most vegetables can be cooked using the same technique. Some of my favorite vegetables to cook include broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, onions, carrots, beets, bell peppers, tomatoes….ok, I guess all of them! Roasting veggies is as simple as cutting them into similar-sized pieces, tossing them in some oil, dried herbs and spices, arranging them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roasting until they are tender and delicious. For specific veggie cooking times and recipe ideas, see The Ultimate Guide to Roasting Veggies and then make these Roasted Vegetables with Lemon-Cannellini Sauce, Easy Roasted Root Veggies, Roasted Vegetables with Buttery Garlic and Spinach Salad, and Miso-Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini. For even more recipes, check out 10 Quick, Healthy (and Creative!) Meal Ideas Using Roasted Veggies.

6. If You Have a Slow Cooker…


…you can make almost anything without even paying a lot of attention to it. All you need to do is put the ingredients into the slow cooker, turn it on and come back later to find your meal is cooked. The idea of a slow cooker may make you think of soups and stews and it certainly does make easy work of those dishes. See 10 Nutritious Soups and Stews to Make in Your Slow Cooker for yummy, comforting recipes. A slow cooker can do more than that, however. It can help you make morning cereal, beans, chili, and so much more as detailed in It’s Not Just for Soup: 7 Ways to Put Your Slow Cooker to Use. Use your slow cooker to make amazing dishes like this Smoky Slow Cooker Tempeh with Sweet Potato and Green Beans, Slow Cooker Ginger and Cauliflower Curry, Slow Cooker Spicy Pinto Beans, Japanese=Style Slow Cooker Tofu and Slow Cooker Tempeh Braised with Figs and Port Wine.

7. If You Have a Knife…


…you can make a salad for dinner with no cooking necessary. To make a great salad, just chop up a bunch of your favorite greens and veggies, add some fruit, toss a few beans on top (yes, that requires a can opener or your slow cooker) and mix with salad dressing. Salads are nutritious, filling, and delicious with endless variations so you never have to get bored. You don’t even have to know how to perfectly chop veggies; salads are very forgiving. See 10 Easy Tricks to Make Salads Taste Better Instantly and this 5-Step Guide to Making Vegan Super Salads. Indulge in this Spicy Kale and Quinoa Black Bean Salad, Summery Tofu Salad with Green Beans, Fresh Herbs and Sesame Dressing, Butter Lettuce Wedges with Sunflower Seed Dressing, Pears and Tempeh Bacon, Hippie Goddess Salad Dressing and Shaved Spring Salad and this Nourishing Power Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing. Also see 5 Salad Dressings You Can Make in Less Than 5 Minutes for great ways to dress your salad creations.


See? And you thought you couldn’t cook! You only need to know how to perform one step to get you started on the road to a delicious and healthy meal. Stop thinking about what you can’t do and focus on all you can do. Healthy and amazing meals are in your future.

Lead Image Photo: Japanese-Style Slow Cooker Tofu