How to Cook When You’re Hangry

How to Cook When You're Hangry | A Couple Cooks

“Hangry…is that an app or something?” -Julio, on the A Couple Cooks Podcast

When’s the last time you got hangry? Hanger, that dreaded combination of hunger + anger, is the topic of our latest series on modern eating. It’s not because we think you’re all angry (at least, we hope not). It’s just that we’ve heard what you really need are ideas for quick meals on those nights where time or inspiration are lacking. And the lack of quick, wholesome recipe ideas leads to convenient but poor food choices. So to hell with those fancy, out-of-reach food porn recipes. This month is dedicated to simple, quick meals where flavor is key.

How to cook when you’re hangry? Check out our thoughts below on how to stay healthy while beating hanger.

What is Hanger?

Getting angry when we go too long without food has a new trendy name, but it’s not a new concept. It’s a scientific fact that our anger is designed as a survival mechanism.

In Alex and my quest to see what the everyday person thinks of hanger, we took to the streets to find out: do people know what hanger is? What do they do when they’re hangry? Do they turn to processed foods, or cook? Overall it was a mixed bag, but a highly entertaining one! We had a blast in downtown Broad Ripple catching up with random passersby on the Monon Trail. Check out the A Couple Cooks Podcast Episode 25 to listen.

First Line of Defense: Take the Edge Off

Not all hangry is alike. Sometimes it’s just a bit to tide you over before a meal. One of our biggest tips for cooking with spouses, friends or family is to munch on some healthy snacks to take the edge off. Some of our favorite healthy, wholesome & easy snacks for cooking:

  • Vegetables and hummus
  • Roasted salted almonds
  • Olives
  • Cheese

Triage: The 5-Minute Meal

We know that even some nights can’t support a 20-minute meal that dirties some dishes. If you’re in dire straights with only a few minutes and zero creativity, here are a few ideas:

  • Avocado toast
  • Tuna melt
  • Cheese & black bean quesadilla
  • Fried egg sandwich
  • Leftovers from the night before (the best quick meal!)

How to Cook When You're Hangry | A Couple Cooks

Step Up: The 20-Minute Meal

If all meals were snacks and triage meals, I’d get incredibly bored, wouldn’t you? (I did spend a good 8 years of my life eating Hot Pockets and cereal for dinner, but there’s no way I can go back now.) Here are our favorite 20-minute or less meal concepts that are easy to put together. We recognize that cleaning up afterwards has to be factored in as well, so pad your time appropriately on the back end.

  • Quick shrimp & lemon couscous: Shrimp is SO quick to stir fry, only 5 minutes, and sauteed in a bit of butter and garlic, it’s a big win on a weeknight. Couscous takes about 7 minutes to cook itself, so meal made.
  • Farmer’s market grain bowl: Grain bowls are so simple and can be made with just about any vegetables in your refrigerator. Here we’ve used bulgur wheat, which cooks in just about 15 minutes, and doused everything in our best balsamic dressing.
  • Simple black beans and eggs: No frills, people. Straight up simple scrambled eggs with our best black beans simmered with their own liquid, cumin and cilantro. Paired with avocado & tomato, it’s a visually appealing plate.

What are your favorite no frills hangry meals? We’d love to know. And let us know if you enjoy the podcast; thanks again to all our guests from Indianapolis!

Did you make this recipe? Do you have a hangry tip?

We’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks. In honor of our hangry series, use the tag #hangrynomore !

How to Cook When You're Hangry | A Couple Cooks

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    August 18, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Oh how timely is this post? The past few days at about 5:30 PM, juuuuust when my husband gets home from work, my attitude plummets and I get super grouchy. Each time it’s happened, I’ve realized that after we have dinner my demeanor peps back up. A case of the hangries to be sure!
    I’ve set an alert in my phone to go off in the late afternoon to remind me to have a snack or else… HANGER HITS! :D
    I love the whole attitude of this post. Cracks me up.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Great post! I also have homemade freezer meals stocked up for those hangry days when I need to make a quick meal. I’ll double a recipe one night to make sure I have leftovers and freeze it for later.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I’ll also add healthy hydration to this. I have Sickle Cell Anemia and if I don’t have 3-6 liters in me I’ll be hangry. Even if I have food in my belly.

    Make sure your drinking well for your body type, environmental climate, daily activities. It’ll help you stay sane and social approachable haha

  • Reply
    Jessica @ Jessica in the Kitchen
    September 5, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Oh my gosh, I so needed this post. I’m a total hanger-er (er?) – applying these tips to my life!

  • Reply
    Griff Neilson
    October 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Love this post! I don’t think that there is a person alive that does not want something quick and easy…not to mention healthy! Roasted salted almonds are the best and in my opinion one of the best carry-overs till dinner time! I can tell you from a coaching stand point that people will not stick around that long if they don’t have something quick and easy…”give it to me now or I am back to the hot pockets!” :-) Great post Sonja!

    • Reply
      November 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Agree — roasted salted almonds are a great option! And haha on hot pockets. Love it!

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