6 ways to outsource dinner when you don’t want to cook

Too busy to cook dinner?

Or perhaps you just don’t want to cook? I have many days like that.

In today’s world, most of us no longer have the time or inclination to spend hours and hours in the kitchen to put dinner on the table.

However, many people still want to eat around the table together. Research shows that families are happier and more connected when they eat dinner together regularly.

By outsourcing some of our meals, we can get all the benefits of the family dinner without the blood, sweat and tears.

Here is a guide to finding the right solution when things get busy or you have other priorities.

Some great ideas to put dinner on the table when you are too busy, too tired or simply don't like cooking.

1. Chef-Inspired Meal Delivery Service

You can now order chef-inspired meals that come completely prepared, delivered to your door at a certain time.

My family tried Munchery, which is available primarily on the East and West coasts. Our food was delivered to our porch, packed so it wouldn’t spoil, and was ready to be eaten or microwaved. The food quality was very good for being pre-prepared.

Munchery provided complimentary food for my family, but my opinions are my own. We will order from them again.

Simply Google food delivery service and your city to find the local services near you.

2. Restaurant Delivery Service

In many areas, you can hire a service to deliver your favorite meal from a local restaurant. These services charge a fee but most waive it for the first delivery so you can see if it’s worth it. Each service has a limited delivery zone so I recommend shopping around.

Of course, you can call your local pizza or Chinese restaurant and have them deliver directly to you, too.

Here are a few delivery services, but you should also search for others in your area:

3. Hire a Personal Chef

You may have never considered hiring a chef, but it’s becoming more popular, even if you aren’t a high earner. Some chefs can be reasonably priced, too.

For example, a chef may cook 5 meals for you in a given week. This includes grocery shopping and cooking. If the chef is experienced, they can probably cook a week’s worth of meals in a few hours, which means you only pay for your groceries and his or her time.

Some chefs charge by the plate.

You can find local chefs on Craigslist, Angie’s List or at hireachef.com.

4. Prepared Food Section at the Grocery Store

I love to pick up food in the prepared section at my favorite grocery stores. The higher-end stores usually have the best and freshest selections. Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s are my favorites.

I bring home a package of balsamic glazed chicken and a side of tabouli, warm up the chicken and call it a meal. We also may pick up a rotisserie chicken and sides at the deli.

Here are some of the prepared foods I like:

  • Frozen homemade lasagna from our local farmer’s market
  • Meatballs and rice from Whole Foods
  • Shephard’s pie from Trader Joe’s
  • Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers with a Mango Jicama Salad from Trader Joe’s

5. Carry Out

Carry out is easy and typically quick if you call ahead. You can order pizza, pad thai or breakfast sandwiches from restaurants near you.

It simply requires you to make a call and drive to the restaurant.

6. Frozen Pizza

Sometimes a frozen pizza is just what you need. No prep. Easy clean-up. Inexpensive.

BONUS: Meal boxes that require cooking

Think: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Home Chef and Plated. Over the last few years, meal delivery services have popped up everywhere.

These companies deliver a high-quality meal that you cook yourself. The ingredients come in a box, all pre-proportioned, with excellent instructions.

I almost didn’t add this category because it does require cooking and frankly, some of the recipes take longer than I have time for on a busy weekday dinner.

But the food is great. You also have limited meal choices which help with decision fatigue.

For some families, this is a great dinner solution.

I’d love to hear how you outsource your meals. Any other ways you save time?

Some great ideas to put dinner on the table when you are too busy, too tired or simply don't like cooking.


  • Bernice August 26, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I’ve never even thought of hiring a chef! My husband and I are both terrible cooks and have very little interest in improving that skill. We’ve tried Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh, but even though they portion out ingredient for you, I still found the meal prep pretty labor intensive. Needless to say, with a little one, preparing well balanced meals is a constant struggle in our house, so I really appreciate this post.

    • Debbie September 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Thanks so much! I love Blue Apron but I agree the prep labor is too much. The more I research hiring a chef, it sounds pretty reasonable and more and more people are doing it. I think it’s a fantastic idea.

  • Susan @ Culinary Envy August 26, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I couldn’t click your post fast enough! I definitely have those days and was very excited to read all of your suggestions. I will look for delivery services, and good to know you liked Munchery and I will check them out.

    • Debbie September 7, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Thanks so much! I’ve enjoyed Munchery and I know there are other services out there. Just depends on where you live. I am hearing great things about Power Supply too!

  • Kari @The He Said She Said Experience August 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

    I love to freeze my homemade pizza dough and use that on busy nights.

    • Debbie September 5, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      That’s a great idea! I like homemade pizza dough so much better but I rarely do it. Freezing it is an easier way!

  • Grace | Brighton and Brinley September 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Rotisserie chicken is our lifesaver (especially from Costco)! Love that you can just eat it on its own and then use the leftovers for future lunches/dinners. Great list!

    • Debbie September 7, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Rotisserie chicken has saved our dinner so many times! And yes I agree, leftovers are the best.


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