Easiest Meal Plan: Super-Flexible Recipe Ideas for Tired Cooks

Shaniqua Juliano

Master recipe: Pasta With 15-Minute Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce

One upside to cooking right now: It’s the very best time for tomatoes, especially the littlest ones, which are packed with flavor and savory-sweet. That’s probably why we’ve been seeing this recipe trending lately. We get it. We love it. You’ll just boil some pasta, heat a little oil, add garlic, then a few pints of cherry tomatoes, plus pepper, salt, and a pinch of flavor-enhancing sugar. The tomatoes will burst as you briefly cook and stir—that’s how you’ll wind up with a silky sauce. The whole thing comes together in less time than it takes your kids to figure out their passwords to Zearn.

Swap the basil… for arugula, or any mixed tender herbs (any combo of fresh mint, oregano, tarragon, and parsley is nice!)

Swap the Parmesan… for Pecorino, Grana Padano, or toasted breadcrumbs.

Swap the cherry tomatoes… for cubed full-sized tomatoes. Or if you’re actually tired of tomatoes (is that a thing?), consider another easy pasta recipe, like Cacio e Pepe or Carbonara, instead.

Day 5: Herby Rice, Topped With Whatever

This herb-dressed rice loves whatever toppings you’ve got.

Photo by Joseph De Leo

Master recipe: Green Rice With Tomatoes, Eggs, and Almonds

We’re still having days that are plenty warm; this herby rice is plenty cooling. Essentially you’re just seasoning a pot of rice with a sauce of fresh green herbs, almonds, oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Then you top it with…pretty much anything. Boiled eggs, almonds, and chunks of tomato are an easy, satisfying option.

Swap the herbs… with basil, mint, dill, tarragon, fennel fronds, or spinach leaves.

Swap the rice… with any cooked whole grain or pasta.

Swap the toppings… with cubes of feta, paneer, or soft goat cheese, roasted mushrooms or squash, poached shrimp, or corn kernels and black beans. The almonds can be swapped for smoked almonds or any toasted nut.

Day 6: Foolproof salmon

Try this technique for cooking salmon, and you’ll never go back.

Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

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