Getting in the habit of cooking all our own meals and staying on track with budgets is an important life skill. While the temptation to go out to eat all the time is always there, we can easily resist it as long as we trust our own cooking abilities and have enough ideas to take us through all the meal plans we need to make. It’s that second part that can sometimes start to wear on us. Fortunately, we’re here to give you a big boost of inspiration. Picking out dinners to make on weeknights that are both easy and delicious can be a challenge. So without further ado, here are 30 of the best ones we’ve found.
When it comes to Italian pasta, it doesn’t get much simpler than spaghetti and meatballs. Nobody really needs a technical recipe for this one. First, buy some spaghetti and some tomato sauce. Make some meatballs with ground beef and a mix of Italian seasonings (though if you’re feeling lazy, you can even buy meatballs pre-made). Cook the pasta according to the package and drain it. Brown your meatballs in a pan for about two minutes per side before pouring in your sauce and letting it all simmer for 10 minutes. Combine with the pasta and you’re good to go—add a side of garlic bread if you’re feeling ambitious!
Feeling a little more ambitious? Chicken Alfredo is a great way to step it up that still doesn’t take much effort at all. The first part is easy: buy some chicken breasts, season them with salt and pepper and cook them in a pan with some olive oil. Cook for about eight minutes a side and make sure they’re cooked through, letting them sit for 10 minutes. To make the sauce, pour one-and-a-half cups each of milk and chicken broth in a pan, along with two minced cloves of garlic. Add in fettuccini noodles and stir for about three minutes. Cook it all for about eight minutes before adding half a cup of heavy cream and a cup of fresh, grated Parmesan. Stir it up until it thickens, add your chicken and you’re good to go!
This one may be new to some people but it’s pretty easy to pull off all the same. Start by heating oil in heavy bottomed pot and adding a cup of flour, cooking and whisking for about five to seven minutes until it turns golden brown. Next, add two chopped bell peppers, a chopped onion, four cloves of minced garlic and a teaspoon of oregano. Cook everything and stir occasionally until the veggies are crisp-tender. Next, add four cups of water and add in a package of frozen okra and some pre-cooked andouille sausage. Bring it to a boil, add shredded chicken as well and heat for a couple more minutes. At the end, season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to serve (with cornbread, hopefully).
Having a slow cooker can be invaluable for all sorts of different recipes. In particular, it’s perfect for making a ton of juicy and delicious chicken thighs. Basically, all you have to do is throw your thighs in and pour a marinade over them—in this recipe, we’ll do a honey garlic sauce! To make it, mix half a cup of soy sauce, half a cup of ketchup, a third cup of honey, three cloves of minced garlic and a teaspoon of dried basil. Mix it up, pour it over the chicken and let it all cook for six hours.
Pasta fagioli is another recipe that doesn’t sound too common but is simple to make and tastes delicious. To pull this one off, heat up some oil in a pan. Chop up a carrot, a celery stalk and some onion and throw them in the pan. Add garlic and sauté everything before pouring in four cans of tomato sauce and one can of chicken broth. Add a tablespoon of parsley, half a tablespoon of dried basil and some black pepper. Simmer it for 20 minutes. In the meantime, boil some ditalini pasta until it’s al dente. Add canned beans to your sauce, simmer and combine everything for a delicious dinner!
Looking for a simple and refreshing seafood dinner? Shrimp ceviche just might do the trick. To pull this off, cook a pound of shrimp and break them all up into half-inch pieces. Get out a small bowl and whisk together a half cup each of lemon, lime and orange juice. Pour a half cup of it over the shrimp and toss it before letting it all marinate for 15 minutes. Next, add chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, apple, cilantro and red onion to the mix to your liking. Let it marinate for another 10 minutes before adding chopped avocado and the rest of the juice. Season it with salt and pepper and serve fresh with tortilla chips!
This one is another favorite and an easy crowd-pleaser (or family-pleaser, as it were). First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease up a casserole dish. Throw three cubed chicken breasts in along with two cups of water, two cups of rice and a can each of cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup and cream of chicken soup. Mix everything, season it with salt and pepper and add half a cup’s worth of butter pats on top. Finally, bake it in the oven for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Let it cool for 15 minutes and make sure everything is cooked before digging in!
Similar to chicken noodle soup, chicken stew is a filling, delicious meal that is easy to love. Start by melting two tablespoons of butter in a stock pot. Add chopped carrots and celery before seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes before adding three cloves of minced garlic, cooking for about 30 more seconds. Add about a tablespoon of flour and stir to coat the veggies before adding several shredded chicken breasts, fresh thyme, bay leaf, about three-quarters of a pound of quartered potatoes and three cups of chicken broth. Bring it all to a simmer and cook until the chicken is no longer pink and the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes). Finally, take the chicken out and shred it with forks in a side bowl. Mix it back in and top with fresh parsley before chowing down.
Mediterranean food is so underrated. As it turns out, falafel is incredibly easy to make right at home. If you’re not just buying a mix and making it that way, start by soaking a pound of dry chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain and rinse them the next day and throw them in the food processor. Add one chopped onion, three to five garlic cloves, a quarter cup of parsley and a tablespoon or so of flour as well. For spices, use two teaspoons of salt, two teaspoons of cumin, a teaspoon of coriander, a few pinches each of cayenne and black pepper and a pinch of cardamom. Blend everything together until it’s between the texture of couscous and paste. Refrigerate it for a few hours before shaping it into balls and frying in a deep pan with the oil of your choice!
Lasagna is always a great dish when you need a lot of food, fast. To make this, preheat your oven to 350. Cook a box of lasagna noodles according to the instructions. After that, heat oil in a pan and add a chopped onion and several minced cloves of garlic. Season it with salt, pepper and oregano and stir in two bags of frozen spinach. In another bowl, mix together three cups of ricotta, an egg and half a cup of parmesan cheese. Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Next, get out a baking dish and layer five lasagna noodles down. Spoon some marinara over that layer before adding a layer of spinach and cheese. Sprinkle that with mozzarella, and repeat until all the ingredients are gone. Finally, cover it with foil and bake it for 45 minutes. Take the foil off, bake uncovered for another 15, let it cool for 10 and you’re ready to eat.
Once again, the slow cooker comes to the rescue for this turkey chili dish! First, cook 1.25 pounds of ground turkey in a skillet with a chopped onion and some minced garlic. Drain the fat and add the meat mixture to your slow cooker. Next, stir in a package of frozen corn, a chopped bell pepper, a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, a can of tomato sauce and a package of chili seasoning. Stir it all up and set it to cook on high for four to five hours or on low for six to eight. Top it off with cheese and enjoy!
This delicious breakfast fixture can also make a great dinner—and you can make it in a slow cooker. First, line your cooker with foil and spray it down. Add a pound of corned beef, a pound of chopped russet potatoes, a chopped onion, two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of dried oregano and a tablespoon of parsley before tossing everything together. Set it to cook on high for four to five hours and serve it with eggs when it’s done!
This delicious pasta dish is about as easy as they come. Start by boiling your fettuccini noodles and draining them, saving about a cup of water. Next, heat half a cup of butter and half a cup of cream over medium heat. Cook until they’re both melted and heated through and whisk in half a cup of parmesan with some salt and pepper. Add pasta water one tablespoon at a time if the sauce is too thick until it hits your desired consistency. Take it off the heat, toss it with your noodles and you’re done!
If you’ve never tried this recipe before, this one is sure to become a new favorite. The prep work couldn’t be easier. To begin, drop four chicken breasts, two tablespoons of butter, two cups of cream of chicken soup and a chopped onion into the slow cooker. Add enough water to cover those ingredients and cover it to cook on high for five to six hours. About a half hour before the meal is done, tear up the dough in two packages of pre-made biscuits. When the dough is cooked through, you’re ready to eat.
If you’re craving Chinese take-out, why not try to make it at home on your own? To make this, add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet before adding three beaten eggs. Lightly scramble it, folding it over itself and taking it out of the skillet. Add another tablespoon of oil and add half a chopped onion and a chopped carrot. Keep cooking until they turn tender and add half a pound of ground pork with salt and pepper and let it caramelize. Stir in a tablespoon of ground ginger, some minced garlic and a cup of frozen peas. Finally, add four cups of cooked rice and toss. Add your eggs and serve it up hot.
Similarly, you can even make your own Thai food at home. Start by cooking a package of rice noodles according to their instructions. If you’re using chicken or shrimp, sauté those in the pan; if you’re using tofu, press it and do the same. Next, chop up a shallot, several garlic cloves and a teaspoon’s worth of ginger and set those aside. Get out a bowl and whisk together two eggs and a hearty pinch of salt. Mix up some fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce in another small bowl. In a wok, through your whisked eggs in and break them up with a metal whisk. Add your shallots and garlic, still whisking, before adding your noodles. Finally, add the sauce and the chicken, shrimp or tofu. Cook until the noodles are fully soft and you’re ready to eat.
If you like chicken pot pie, this twist is sure to become a fixture in your home as well. Start by preheating your oven to 375. Melt butter in an iron skillet before adding a cup each of chopped onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook for five to seven minutes. Add half a cup of flour until it starts to brown before adding two cups of chicken broth and a cup of milk. Keep stirring until it thickens and add two cups of cooked chicken and a cup of frozen peas. Next, open a can of frozen biscuit dough and spread the chunks on the top of the skillet before popping it in the oven for 21 to 25 minutes. When it’s done, let it stand for five minutes and enjoy.
If you want something on the easier side, sloppy joes are the way to go. First, throw a package of ground beef in a skillet with some chopped onions. Cook for about 10 minutes before adding minced garlic and chopped green bell peppers. Cook for another two minutes and add a cup of water, scraping the pan. Add a hearty amount of ketchup with a dash of Worcestershire, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, a squirt of Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Add another cup of water and let it simmer, stirring throughout until the water evaporates and the sauce thickens. At the end, scoop the mixture onto hamburger buns and you’re good to go.
If you were looking for a meal that was a little lighter, sometimes a good pasta salad can do the trick—and this one is a winner. To start, cook a package of rotini pasta according to the instructions on the pack. In another bowl, mix together a third cup of vegetable oil, a quarter cup of lime juice, two tablespoons of chili powder, two teaspoons of ground cumin, half a teaspoon of salt and two cloves of crushed garlic. Add your pasta and stir it up before adding a package of frozen corn (thawed), a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), half a cup each of green and red bell peppers and a quarter cup of cilantro leaves. Finally, garnish it with baby tomatoes and you’re ready to serve!
For this one, cook some macaroni according to the package. Drain it and put it back in the pot. In a skillet, melt some butter and add in a few cloves of minced garlic. Add two tablespoons of flour and stir, gradually whisking in two and a half cups of heavy cream until it turns smooth. Add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Add a half cup of shredded cheese until it melts and then add the pasta. Finally, throw in a jar of roasted red peppers, spinach leaves and a third cup of diced mushrooms.
First, make your teriyaki by mixing a cup of soy sauce, three-quarters of a cup of sugar, a few tablespoons of minced garlic, a tablespoon of minced ginger, half a teaspoon of pepper and a teaspoon of cayenne. Mix it before pouring half the sauce into a Ziploc bag with a pound of chicken in it, cut into bite-sized chunks. Pour the other half in a skillet and add in a cornstarch slurry, stirring until it thickens. After the chicken has marinated, add it to a skillet and cook it until all the pink is out. Serve the bowls with rice and steamed broccoli!
Enchiladas are a classic recipe that is so simple to make. First, preheat your oven to 350. Cook up some ground beef and chopped onions in a skillet until it’s all browned. Next, open up a can of enchilada sauce and pour a quarter cup into the bottom of a casserole dish. Get a package of tortillas and fill each one with a scoop of beef mixture and some cheddar cheese. Roll each one up and put it seam side down in the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce on top along with additional cheese before baking it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Once you start cooking with coconut milk, you’ll never go back. First, get a stock pot and add four cups of veggie stock, three tablespoons of red paste, a teaspoon of ginger powder, a teaspoon of garlic powder, 1.5 teaspoons of onion powder and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for 15 minutes. Slowly add a can of coconut milk and whisk it in for five more minutes. Next, throw your ramen noodles in and let them cook in the soup. Top each bowl with your favorite toppings!
To switch it up a bit, why not add pesto to your spaghetti? Simply make the noodles like you usually would but in the meantime, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add a few tablespoons of pre-made pesto with chopped onion, salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes before combining everything and topping it off with grated cheese.
To begin, heat some oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add in one chopped onion and cook it for about three minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another minute before adding in a few tablespoons of chili powder, two tablespoons of cumin and a teaspoon of oregano. Next, add chopped peppers, carrots and celery to your liking, cooking it for five minutes. Add two cans of tomatoes and bring it all to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium-low and leave the lid off, cooking for 20 minutes and stirring occasionally. Add two cans of beans (drained and rinsed) and two cans of corn as well, cooking for five more minutes. Add salt to taste and you’re ready to serve!
Start by cooking a package of ground beef with a chopped onion in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the fat when it’s done and add a can of cream of mushroom soup, a tablespoon of ketchup and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce into the mix. Pour your beef mix into a shallow baking dish and arrange a package of frozen tater tots on top. Bake it at 425 degrees for 25 minutes and you’re good to go.
Open up a can of Campbells, heat it up and you’re done! Just kidding: first melt several tablespoons of butter in a pot. Cook half a chopped onion and half a cup of celery in it as well for five minutes before adding four cans of chicken broth and a can of veggie broth. Next, add in half a pound of cooked, shredded chicken along with uncooked egg noodles, a cup of sliced carrots, half a teaspoon of dried basil, half a teaspoon of oregano, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil before lowering it to a simmer for 20 minutes.
To begin, slice up a skirt steak into thin strips and dry it with paper towels. Season the pieces with salt and pepper before tossing them with cornstarch. Get out a skillet and add a teaspoon of oil to cook a pound of trimmed green beans. Add two tablespoons of water and cover the skillet with a lid so it steams. Take the beans out when they’re done and add another tablespoon of oil on high heat. When the oil is near smoking, add your beef in. Stir-fry the pieces for a while before turning the heat down to medium and adding two tablespoons of minced garlic, two of minced ginger, a quarter cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of vinegar and three tablespoons of sugar. Stir everything up, add the green beans back in and top everything with green onions and sesame seeds.
This one couldn’t be easier. Begin by cooking white rice according to the directions on the bag and letting it cool down. Next, heat some oil in a wok or skillet along with some bean sprouts and chopped onions. Cook for three minutes before adding in your cooked rice, stirring constantly. Finally, add in green onions, two beaten eggs, four tablespoons of soy sauce, a quarter teaspoon of sesame oil, salt and pepper. Cook for four more minutes and keep stirring and you’ll be ready to eat.
Last but not least, this recipe will become a new favorite, guaranteed. Begin by whisking together a third cup of honey, a quarter cup of soy sauce, two tablespoons of lemon juice and some red pepper flakes. Next, heat two tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Add salmon when the oil is hot, skin-side up. Season it with salt and pepper and let it cook for about six minutes per side. After that, add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and add a tablespoon of minced garlic. Cook for a minute before adding your honey mixture and one lemon’s worth of lemon slices. Reduce the sauce by about a third and spoon it onto your salmon as it cooks!
As you can see, there are plenty of creative and delicious recipes available to keep you busy at home rather than sending you out to get food. From seafood to salads to exotic cuisines, this list has it all. Have you tried these for yourself? Which one is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know!
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