Simple Things

So I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to really soak up every single thing about where I am in life right now. Because I’ve already been here a month and it’s absolutely flown by, the realization that I have to really appreciate it is sinking in. For real. I’m never going to get my “first year in Manhattan” back and I intend on making it an incredible year. 
One of the things I found was that I was constantly in a rush. In particular, I’m always in a rush to get home…. to what? An episode of Dawson’s Creek and takeout leftovers? This is something I definitely want to change. One of the “little things” that I enjoy doing is to cook dinner. Nothing elaborate or crazy; I am definitely no Julia Child.
It’s funny because when I was gearing up to move, I had envisioned myself cooking meals in my kitchen. Fast forward to Real Life, and I’ve literally been so lazy about cooking meals. This is in part because I was terrified of my stove/oven for a while and in part because my kitchen is super narrow. But, just like how I have to make time to read, I am going to make time to prepare meals. 
Of course, I’m not going to be able to do this every day, but my goal is to do it at least once a week. I want to get in the habit of planning and orchestrating and doing something on my own.
I put the plan into action over the weekend. I took a trip to a real grocery store (there are fake ones…) and braved the swarms of baby strollers and hundreds of other shoppers. (But seriously…)
Because I’m easing myself into this new thing, I started with one of my favorite simple meals: pancakes. I mean, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? It was super easy and I enjoyed both making it and eating it. Win-Win.
I have a board on Pinterest with recipes that seem interesting to me, but I think I’m going to need some super easy suggestions. Feel free to share your favorite “simple” meal in a comment!!! I’m interested to hear about other simple meals.
PS When in doubt, go for desserts.
via Etsy

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your sorority sister

One of my favorite "easy" meals is ham and cheese sliders. All it requires are Hawaiian King sweet rolls, sliced ham, swiss cheese, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and butter. You mix together the sauces and heat them in the microwave. While that is heating, slice open the rolls and put a piece of ham and a quarter of a piece of cheese. Brush the sauce on top of the rolls and pop them in the oven (on broil) until the cheese is melted! I can eat these for multiple days and they are so easy!


I feel you! I've been a senior in college for a month now, and due to my schedule I always feel "in a rush" as well. That's a great quote and I definitely need to apply it to my life more – and enjoy my last year of college! Congrats on your move to Manhattan, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful year!

Maria Kristina Melgarejo

I just moved in with my boyfriend, and because he's busy with law school, I usually do the cooking. Today I made margherita pasta.. Sautée garlic in some butter or olive oil.. Then add diced tomatoes and fresh basil. Toss in your pasta of choice, and salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese yourself to a simple but delicious meal with fresh ingredients! 🙂


Girl, you need to invest in a crock pot! Takes up minimal space and its cooking without a lot of effort! I am in grad school and work full time and the crock pot is my savior! Put your ingredients in when you leave for work and come home to a yummy homemade meal! Its the best!


Your so right about being in a rush to get home, I'm like that too, then think why did I rush to get here and do nothing lol! Steph is sooo right about a crock pot they are great x

melanie cybriwsky

Last night I cut up some squash, zucchini, and a green pepper, brushed them with a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and then put them on a panini press for like 2 minutes ish. It was epic! Make some brown rice or quinoa with it and thats a great meal!

Laura Moreno

I'm glad to hear that you're having so much fun in NY! I am from the city and I would suggest to get to know the city. Go to all the museums you can! Go to a different one every week, also, go to happy hours in different parts of the city with a friend or two, and you will meet so many people and sometimes the people you meet make the difference in how incredible something can be or not! Also, a really good meal: dice as much garlic as you want (the more the better), slices onions and tomatoes (not diced*) and then get some steak. Put some oil in a large pan and put half the tomatoes and half the onions on the bottom, lay the steak on top, then the rest of the onions and tomatoes and drizzle with a little bit more oil (don't forget the salt). And just let it cook over low heat for about an hour or so. And you're kitchen will smell so good! And make it with some rice and you have a very delicious meal! And then since you probably won't finish all of it, refrigerate the rest and then the next day mix the rest of the rice with the meat (cut it up) and put it on the stove to heat it up. Such good food!


Definitely go to Fairway on the Upper East Side, if I remember correctly it's at 86th between 2nd and 3rd. By far the BEST supermarket in the city!


One of the easiest and fastest things I love is a black bean soup. My roommate and I would make it a lot in the fall because we always had the ingredients on hand and it was so good and fast. In a large bowl, combine 1 can of veggie stock (recipe says chicken stock, but like you, I'm a vegetarian), 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans, 1 can of drained corn, and 1/2 to 1 cup of salsa (depending on how spicy you want it and the consistency of the soup). After stirring and putting some into a microwave safe bowl, microwave it until it's hot, then add a squeeze of lime juice and cheese. I like to throw in some tortilla chips as well and it makes it very similar to tortilla soup.

I have loads of vegetarian recipes and stuff I've made up as well. If you want some recipes or some tips for cookbooks, feel free to email me- raychel dot yearsley at gmail dot com 🙂 I cooked almost every night in college and my roommate and I would switch off on Saturday mornings for breakfast. I think it's really fun!


I always have the feeling of being "in a rush" to get home too (I'm in my last year of undergrad, taking grad classes, and working). But I never understood why I was in such a rush, and I thought I was the only one who felt that way. Thanks for making me feel better about that! 🙂


I'm the exact same way! I've been in my new city for two months now and I thought I'd be cooking every night! To be honest, I don't know how I get my nourishment for dinner… I can't remember! Because I know I don't cook and I rarely eat out!
I need to start cooking more too, but lugging back bags of groceries up 3 flights of stairs is so unappealing!

carelessly graceful


I whip up a batch of cous cous that I typically season with basil and often add some cooked lentils. Then I saute spinach, tomatoes, green onions along with some shrimp. Toss it together and add some crumbled feta to the top! It's very healthy and filling plus super easy to make!

Jennifer (the Elizabeth Letter)

I try to simplify every meal- but one trick I've learned in terms of menu planning is to include a "Mexican" night every week. Keep your kitchen stocked with your favorite mexican basics and then if you make chicken or steak or veggies on Monday or Tuesday- make a little extra and make it into quesadillas or tacos on Wednesday or Thursdays. // This Martha recipe is a favorite to make a big batch of on Sunday and eat leftovers all week. It's linguine with turkey sausage, yellow peppers and arugula.


I know this feeling! A couple of my favorite easy dinners that are a little more effort, but still easy are:

– (I use ground turkey and make mini burgers almost like falafel…cooks faster!)
– (I slice the chicken in half so it's thinner pieces and cooks faster)
–Trader Joe's (and many other stores) sell pre-made pizza dough and the topping combinations are endless!

And when I can't think and have NO time, I seem to always go back to pasta with (frozen) peas and grated parmesan. I always have those ingredients, they keep for the longest time, and it's SO EASY! I also make a cheese/prosciutto/bread plate to go with a salad a lot…easy and pairs well with a (much needed) glass of wine.


Cook spaghetti (or penne) in a pot. In a skillet cook 3 minced garlic cloves in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 1 minute. Add in a can or 2 of drained chicken breast; warm through. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil) and 1 tablespoon of drained capers. In a bowl put the desired amount of pasta then top with the chicken mixture. Grate a little fresh parm on top. Enjoy with a small salad and french bread, both of which can be pre-made. Voila!

Katherine Milligan

Buy a Boboli premade pizza crust and spread some pasta sauce on top. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and then bake for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees. It's really easy to cook and clean!

Also, you can use the rest of the jar of sauce and mozzarella cheese to make an easy chicken parm. Use a frozen breaded chicken breast and cook it with the sauce and mozzarella for an easy chicken parm!

Jessica Randall

I love making 3 ingredient snacks and meals (my favorites being smoothies cause I can pack so many fruits in)but here are a few really simple recipes I've cooked up.

The best thing for me when I get home after a long day and don't want to just snack on not so healthy stuff is this rice cooker/veggie steamer.

I actually got this as a birthday present and I use it almost every day. It's great for lazy cooking because it does all of the cooking for you and makes it easy to eat healthy. You could even put chicken/salmon/turkey (I haven't tried beef but maybe?) in the steamer part with veggies and the whole meal will be done in 20 minutes.

Hope this helps!

Kelsey Odorczyk

i just got an apartment on campus this year and panicked over the summer because i couldn't really cook anything except grilled cheese last spring. But my dad gave me a few simple recipes that I'm able to make variations on and feed myself well most nights, even when I'm feeling lazy.
its basically just stir fry. the basic recipe is chicken, bell peppers and onions thrown in a frying pan with olive oil. and then i serve it with rice. (uncle bens ready rice)
variations include:
fajita/mexican style: with black beans, corn (both from a can), taco seasoning, a little cilantro and taco cheese
italian style: with italian seasoning (something in a jar one of my roommates has) mozzarella cheese and sauce from a jar. i usually eat this with pasta or toast
chinese: with soy sauce, broccoli, and some garlic chili sauce my dad gave me

i also eat a lot of soups and salads 🙂

Kelsey Odorczyk

you can also get a ton of like, frozen pre-made meals at trader joes. theres one on the upper west side at like 72nd and amsterdam and another near union square


You should invest in a crock pot… it's the working girl's best friend 🙂 When I use it I just put everything in the crock pot and stick in the fridge the night before, then turn it on before I leave for work in the morning, and dinner is ready by the time I get home!

Sweet, Pink and Preppy

Have you ever thought about making big meals over a few weekends and then freezing them in portion-sized freezer bags? That way all you have to do is defrost and reheat a bag when you get home and voila! Instant homemade dinner.

Carly Nasca

You should think about ordering from fresh direct. The prices are better than the grocery stores in Manhattan and then you don't have to go to a crowded store and carry heavy bags home. I found that once I started getting groceries delivered, I cooked at home more. They have delivery windows late at night too.


get a crock pot! you can throw some things in when you leave in the morning, turn it on, and come home to a meal 🙂 plus, if you make enough, you'll have leftovers for a few days. my favorite cookbooks are all the moosewood books and 'ad hoc at home'… also a big fan of the pioneer woman's recipes, especially when entertaining.


Lime Chicken Soft Tacos from are an easy, fresh, and delish weeknight meal.

I also love to sautee a zucchini, a squash, and an onion in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Once they are almost cooked through I add grated or shredded parm to the top. Perfect! (you can also add bacon or pancetta- yum!)

Annie's Eats is my favorite food blog by far. She mostly does desserts, but I do adore her Chicken Gyros and her green monster smoothies as easy ideas.

I did a review of a ton of Pinterest recipes a few weeks ago if you want to check that out as well:

Katy Z

Spinach is always a super quick, easy thing to cook. Mushrooms too! You can pair them with noodles, rice or anything really. Just heat up some olive oil in a pan, add some garlic then sauté. Takes no time and is healthy! Spinach really takes only a couple min otherwise it gets a bitter taste, and just brown the mushrooms


Everyone simple meals are making hungry!! My favorite simple meals are Vibrant Salad (lots of colorful vegetables) with a homemade vinaigrette my mother taught me to do and pasta with parsley, olive oil with some good tomato sauce.



I love love love this blog, Emily Bites. All of the recipes are designed to follow Weight Watchers and be low-calorie and low-fat, but she's also a young working woman and her recipes are always really easy and quick to follow (added bonus of being healthier). I love especially all of her suggestions for "cupcake" meals. They're really easy to make and they store well too.

Julia D.

I really love that quote. It is so important to slow down and appreciate where you are in the moment, for so many reasons. As for cooking, that has recently been something I've had to get into doing. I still haven't mastered the art of easy, healthy, fast, and cheap recipes but I really love quesadillas/wraps, salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and anything else you can just kind of throw together that tastes good and gives you the nutrients you need.

Mrs. Dork

One of my favorite recipes is the easiest fettuccine alfredo ever.

8 ounces cream cheese — cubed

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 stick butter — softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 ounces fettuccine — cooked & drained

In a large saucepan, stir together the cream cheese, parmesan, butter, and cream. Heat, stirring, until smooth. Add hot, cooked fettuccini, and toss until well covered.

Good luck on your cooking adventures!

Adrienne Child

One of my favorite fast/ EASY meals is rice and beans. (I like to use chick peas) It is super cheap, and loaded with protein so keeps me full 🙂 Add soy sauce or other sauces for flavor.