Whether you’re headed into a busy week or it’s been a draining couple of pandemic years, here’s the thing — you don’t actually have to cook dinner tonight. There are so many local food makers who would love to feed you and your family! With freezer dumplings to the rescue, noodle soups that simmer quickly, tamales that steam in the microwave, and pizza that slides right onto an oven rack. Perhaps surprisingly, prepped foods and dinner kits can actually be both faster and more delicious than delivery: Many heat up in less than 10 minutes, plus one or two finishing touches can go a long way to make sure dishes arrive at the table piping hot and the perfect texture. Here are a dozen delicious ways to avoid cooking dinner.
Beef Noodle with Shank & Tendon from Chiang Beef Noodle
Slurpable noodle soup simmers in a few minutes. Justin braises beef bones, shank, and tendon for a total of 24 hours, in nearly 30 different aromatics and spices, so you don’t have to — just pull out a pot and warm through. Then punch it up with pickled mustard greens. The pro move is to get extra noodles to enjoy with any leftover broth.
Chicken & Mushroom Wontons from Wycen Foods
Freezer dumplings to the rescue! Just bring a pot of water to a boil and float on. The oldest Chinese sausage factory on the West Coast also makes plump and juicy wontons studded with silky mushrooms and bamboo shoots. Dunk in a handful of broccoli and dinner is done.
Pork Achiote Tamales from Donají
Tucked away in the fridge, tamales are so easy to steam in the microwave, and unwrap like a gift at the end of a long day. Especially when they’re filled with Isaí’s exceptionally smooth and light fresh masa — so good it made the Michelin guide. Smother in rich mole poblano and pair with pickled onions, if you like.
Margherita Pizza from Pizzeria Delfina
Any night is a pizza party when you have a Neapolitan-style pie from Delfina stashed in the freezer. Seven minutes! Is all it takes to slide it right onto the oven rack and let that milky fresh mozzarella melt down into the sweet tomatoes and basil leaves.
Hainanese Chicken & Rice from Dabao Singapore
Chicken and rice are a classic, but Hainanese chicken satisfies a particular craving for tender poached chicken and rice slicked in chicken fat. Emily serves her version Singaporean style, which means chicken soup on the side and both ginger-scallion and sweet chili sauces.
Chewy Curry Noodles from Basil the Bold
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that curry is good the first day and better the next, when the spices have a chance to sink in. PanPan pours beautiful color and texture into this bowl brimming with thick and chewy noodles, golden turmeric chicken, and aromatic red curry sauce.
Mushroom & Spinach Pupusas from Nixta Foods
Pupusas flip golden with a quick griddle. Gabriel’s mama used to make them for dinner every week, and now Gabriel’s making it easy to stack them in the freezer. His are rich in nourishing veggies, stuffed with earthy criminis, tender spinach, and porcini powder for umami oomph. Simply slash with salsa and add a vinegary crunch of curtido.
Al’ Diavolo Porterhouse Pork Chop from Fatted Calf
A juicy heritage pork chop is a one-pan wonder. Taylor and Toponia take a porterhouse cut with the bone still in and marinate it in citrus and chiles, so all you have to do is crank up a hot skillet. While the chop rests, you could toss in any veggies from the crisper, and let them sizzle in the pork fat.
Pap Cap Pasta & Pumpkin Seed Pesto from Plant Dazzler
Fresh pasta bobs to the top of a pot within a few minutes, and it’s extra appealing tossed with a gorgeous green sauce. Susie fills stylish caps with “creamy” ricotta, blitzes both spinach and basil into her pumpkin seed pesto, for big color and flavor that happens to be completely vegan.
Muffuletta from Sandy’s SF
A serious sandwich deserves consideration for dinner, no cooking required. Peterson layers three types of meat — mortadella, prosciutto, and soppressata — with provolone and spicy olives. Having grown up in New Orleans, he and his dad Sandy would recommend washing it down with a sudsy beer.
Chicken Pot Pie from Pie Society
The comfort of pie for dinner! Without having to roll out dough. Angela pours creamy chicken and veggies into a flaky crust, and fluffy scallion biscuits take it over the top. Pop it in the oven until piping hot, and you have time to pour a glass of wine and kick back.
Feijoada from Cafe de Casa
Thank the ladies of Cafe de Casa for this smoky stew that freezes and reheats like a dream. It’s a labor of love that takes a full day for Lucimar to soak the black beans, braise the dried beef, fry the pork ribs, and let them all meld together. So all you have to do is defrost, warm through, and ladle over fluffy rice.
Hungry for more? There are so many more tempting options for quick and easy dinners on the site.