In honor of the upcoming CBS comedy “The Unicorn,” we rounded up some super easy meals even a single dad could master (but they’re just as good for anybody who wants to eat without a lot of hassle). The show, premiering on September 26, stars Walton Goggins as Wade, a widower with two young daughters and a great group of friends, as he navigates the life of being single and being a single dad.
He’s dubbed a “unicorn” because he’s an elusive creature in the dating world: gainfully employed, attractive, and with a proven track record of commitment.
One thing Wade needs to get back is his mojo in the kitchen. The series starts with Wade and his girls still living on the sympathy casseroles people dropped off for them the year before. Well, it’s time to dive back into cooking and these easy recipes would serve anyone well. They’re unicorns too: low-effort, nearly impossible to mess up, and yet totally delicious—and for the most part, impressive to boot. Perfect for feeding kids, family, friends, and in some cases, even dates…
There’s a reason casseroles are the go-to meal to drop off for anyone who needs some TLC (including the bereaved)—they’re easy to throw together, freeze like a dream, last you at least a whole week, and are usually ultra comforting. That’s also why they’re a great choice for someone who’s inexperienced or just feeling uninspired when it comes to cooking, especially if they have multiple mouths to feed.
This one absolves you of the chore of making meatballs from scratch (you just roll Italian sausage into balls instead), and if you really wanted to, you could open a good jarred pasta sauce to make it even quicker. It’s so delicious you won’t mind eating certified pre-owned food (i.e. leftovers) for a few days in a row either. Get our Baked Ziti recipe.
The Crock-Pot is a single dad’s best friend—and everyone else’s, too. The amount of things you can make in the slow cooker (soups, pasta sauces, desserts) is astounding, but this chili is a favorite. It does ask that you saute some onions, bell peppers, garlic, and ground beef before dumping everything into the Crock-Pot, but that only takes a few minutes. And then all you do is add some spices, open a few cans (tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans), and let the appliance do all the rest of the work for you.
Prep it the day before and store in the fridge, then start it before work and school the next morning, and come home to a perfect meal (and a chili that is definitely the bomb). Get our Crock-Pot Chili recipe.
Related Reading: 12 Crowd-Pleasing, Budget-Friendly Crock-Pot Dinners
For those days when you can barely manage to get out of bed, rotisserie chicken is a lifesaver (at least when it comes to dinner). You can turn it into several easy meals, but one of the best (and fastest) has to be chicken tacos. It’s really more of an assembly job than anything; plus, if you put out an array of toppings, everyone can put their own spin on it—so it’s one of those rare cases when everyone will be happy. If you’re feeling a little more inspired, make the salsa from scratch. Get our Quick Chicken Taco recipe.
Related Reading: Fast, Easy Meals That Will Please Kids and Parents
Feeling slightly more ambitious? Use that same store-bought bird for quesadillas. They’re also an ideal vehicle for using up any leftover bits and pieces in the fridge, from veggies to steak, maybe even something you brought home in a doggie bag from a restaurant date. (Level up to mushroom and chorizo quesadillas for more adventurous eaters and/or even more invested cooks.) Get our Chicken Quesadilla recipe.
You might not want to follow Wade’s lead in offering your kids brownies for dinner, but they are one of the easiest baked goods to make, so by all means, whip up a dessert too. This version is even simpler than most because there’s no measuring sugar or melting chocolate or butter. All you do is whisk eggs right into Nutella, then fold in flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, pour it in a pan, and bake. How sweet is that? Get our Nutella Brownie recipe.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t what you’d feed your kids (unless they’re okay with the potential for spice, since one in about every 10-20 mild, sweet peppers will burn you), but “shishito peppers” are the first words in the trailer, and they’re ridiculously easy to make—so find some and feed them to your friends or potential romantic partners. And who knows: If you tell a sad story at the checkout line, you might even be able to get them comped. Get our Grilled Shishito Pepper recipe.