Top 10 excuses not to cook by Molly England & Thai-style butternut squash soup by Claire Handleman

Photo and Food By Claire Handleman
Photo and Food By Claire Handleman

This article is also published on Sammiches and Psych Meds.

Top 10 Excuses Not to Cook


Sometimes, okay, a lot of the time, parents don’t feel like cooking. However, more often than not, we have to. Here are 10 legitimate reasons to avoid the kitchen.


1. You just had a baby


Congratulations, your new bundle of joy is the ultimate excuse not to cook. Accept meals from friends, family, your neighbors, the delivery driver – anyone offering.


2. Severe Weather


A pervasive blizzard or imminent hurricane is the perfect opportunity to heat up the pre-made meals filling your freezer. This week on #TheDinnerDance, Claire Handleman’s created an amazing Thai-Style Butternut Squash Soup. Make extra and store it in the freezer for those inevitable days when cooking is a no go.


3. The in-laws are in town


This is cause for celebration. Indulge in eating out to commemorate the visit and evade feeding the extra mouths.


4. Extracurricular Activities


Late evening softball practice or piano lessons are the perfect dinner-plan diversion. The perils of fast-food are negated by feeding your child’s love of their extracurricular activity.


5. Sleepless Night


For sleep deprived parents, be careful not to get carried away with this excuse. But for those extra tough nights filled with tears and an inconsolable baby, cut yourself some slack and keep dinner simple or order takeout.


6. Any Celebration Day


Whether it’s mother’s day or a birthday, choose a festive restaurant to celebrate. Not cooking is the perfect gift!


7. Everyone’s sick


There’s nothing worse than an illness indiscriminately making its way through each family member. Capitalize on uneasy appetites by serving up ready-made chicken soup and saltine crackers.


8. Moving Day


When the kitchen appliances and dishes are all boxed up –  it’s pizza delivery time! Unless you’re a magician, making dinner appear out of nothing is highly unlikely.


9. Appliance Malfunction


When your fridge is on the fritz or your oven is out of commission, this is the ideal scenario for ordering in.


10. Luscious Locks


The day you get your hair done certainly calls for a night out on the town. Don’t let that gorgeous hair wilt over a hot stove. Dial up the babysitter and throw some heels on for a fun dinner date.


When the excuses run out… there’s always #TheDinnerDance. Here’s Claire Handleman’s fantastic soup recipe, and it’s perfect for freezing. When cooking feels nearly impossible, heat it up at a moments notice for a decadent home cooked meal.


Thai-Style Butternut Squash Soup

By Claire Handleman


Serves: 4

Time: 35 min.

Difficulty: Easy


2 T. coconut oil

1 yellow onion

6 cloves garlic

2” knob of ginger, peeled and roughly sliced

1 Thai chili

1 pack of cubed butternut squash (1 lb. 4oz)

2 stalks lemongrass,remove outer layer and use only the tender parts of the stalk (the bottom 4” of the stalk), thinly sliced

2 cups of water

1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk

2 T. fish sauce (optional)

1 lime, juiced

2 kaffir limes, finely shredded (remove the rib)



In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil, followed by the next five ingredients. Season generously with salt. Cook for about 6-8 minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften but not brown.

Add in the water and bring up to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add in the can of coconut milk and the sliced lemongrass. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the lemongrass is just tender.

Let the soup cool before blending.

If you like a bit of kick to your soup, leave the chili in and blend. If you only want a hint of spice, take the chili out. It’s already done its job.

Once the soup has cooled down, blend in batches and pour back into a pot. Return the soup to the stove and reheat. Add the fish sauce, and season with salt as well. The fish sauce gives an umami undertone while the salt will lift up all the flavors.

Squeeze the lime into the soup and turn the heat off.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the shredded kaffir lime leaves. If you can’t find these leaves, you can microplane a bit of lime zest on the soup for a bit of pop and aroma.

Claire Handleman has been a chef in New York for 10 years, working at some of the city’s best restaurants. She previously worked on ABC’s Emmy-award winning show The Chew as an assistant producer and participated in Food Network’s Chopped competition…and won. Claire has been traveling the world for the past dozen years but focuses a majority of her time in South-East Asia. She has come to regard Thailand as a second home and spends many months each year learning Thai cuisine. She is currently working on a book with the hopes of sharing the incredible cuisine her Thai friends have shared with her. While she travels and works, she shares stories, recipes and travel tips on her blog Passport to Eat.


Molly England earned her master’s degree in social work at The University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and their three children. She is a devoted blogger, freelance writer and a passionate Certified Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator. In 2015 Molly founded Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub providing products and resources based on evidence, research, experience and love to parents making healthy and informed choices. Blogging enables Molly to achieve her goal of empowering families across the globe as they navigate pregnancy to parenthood. Molly’s article on birth plans is featured in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine’s February Issue. She’s also contributed to Green Child Magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness Holistic Parenting Magazine and more. Visit

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