25 Easy Meals for Busy Weeknights
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This collection of 25 easy meals is full of dinner ideas – perfect for busy weeknights, hectic back-to-school schedules, and the upcoming holiday season.
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School is back in session (finally!) here in New York, and I am excited to get back to a somewhat normal schedule.
And as with any period of adjustment, some things end up slipping between the cracks. Let’s not have meal time be one of those things!
Something that is super helpful when it comes to getting dinner on the table during the busy season is to have a go-to list of quick and/or low-maintenance meal options.
Quick Meal Suggestions for Busy Weeknights
My family enjoys having meals like tacos pretty often, so that’s a big one on my go-to list. I also will often roast a bunch of simply-seasoned veggies early in the week and stash ’em in the fridge so we can have side dishes that are mostly ready to go throughout the week.
They’re also great for things like grain bowls where you can cook up some grains and toss in your already cooked veggies. If you have a few extra minutes, throw a fried or soft-boiled egg on top. And speaking of eggs, I often use my Instant Pot to “hard boil” or “soft boil” eggs in batches, label them, and keep them in the fridge. They’re handy to keep on hand for an extra protein boost for lots of different meals, or as an addition to a lunchbox.
Frittatas are also a great meal to make for busy weeknights. You can sauté up whatever veggies you have on hand, pour a few eggs over top, and finish it off in the oven. You can even use canned items, such as chickpeas, in your frittatas, to bulk them up a bit.
Another thing that has helped to make weeknight cooking a breeze is using an immersion circulator to cook food sous vide. I wrote a whole post about that process, and shared a recipe for Sous Vide Double Cut Pork Chops with Raw Summer Corn & Tomato Salad.
And there’s plenty more sous vide action to come! Earlier this week I tested 2 of our favorite pork tenderloin recipes sous vide and froze them once they finished cooking in the water bath. I plan to thaw them and sear them quickly for dinner in a few weeks and will report back on the results.
25 Easy Meals for Busy Weeknights
The following recipe list includes a mix of quick meals that take 30 minutes or less, one-pot and single-skillet recipes, sheet pan dinners, Instant Pot and slow cooker recipes, pizza and flatbread recipes, light meals, and low maintenance recipes that can cook while you do other things.
- Baked Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Peas – This one-pan chicken recipe is weeknight comfort food at its best and a total family favorite! Just 6 ingredients plus oil, salt, and pepper and a little time in the oven are all you need for this easy chicken dinner.
- Balsamic Marinated Pork Tenderloin – This simple, comforting pork tenderloin recipe is simple enough for a weeknight and elegant enough for entertaining. It’s been in my family for years, and we enjoy it served with black beans and rice and drizzled with the tangy pan juices.
- Balsamic Roasted Grape Tomatoes Over Angel Hair – A quick tomato sauce comes together in the oven while your pasta cooks for a colorful, fresh, delicious Italian dinner.
- BBQ Chicken Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella – Grab your favorite BBQ sauce & a pre-made pizza crust, flatbread, or naan. This easy, sweet-and-smoky chicken pizza recipe will be ready in 15-20 minutes!
- Cucumber & Cannellini Bean Salad with Dill – Mix together 6 ingredients in just minutes with this easy no-cook bean salad recipe. Perfect for summer evenings when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen!
- Falafel-Spiced Chickpea Flatbreads – Naan is covered in garlicky tzatziki sauce, Middle Eastern-spiced chickpeas, tahini, fresh herbs and Sriracha in this street food/comfort food mashup.
- Falafel-Spiced Chickpea Salad with Tahini-Lemon Vinaigrette – This quick, simple Middle Eastern salad + homemade pita chips brings all the flavor of falafel in a fraction of the time – no deep frying required!
- Garlicky Mushroom Ricotta Pizza with Wild Arugula + Aged Balsamic – Sautéed mushrooms are topped with ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and baked into a store-bought pizza crust for an easy, elegant weeknight meal!
- Instant Pot Braised Lamb Shanks with Tomato – Beautifully tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks are possible in a fraction of the time thanks to an electric pressure cooker! Can also be prepared in the slow cooker.
- Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches – A homemade Italian seasoning blend flavors the beef for these mouthwateringly tender Instant Pot French Dip sandwiches. Served on top of toasted garlic bread with melted provolone cheese and plenty of au jus for dunking makes this a delicious homemade meal without a lot of work! Can also be prepared in the slow cooker.
- Iron Skillet Chicken + Carrots with Toasted Lager Mustard Sauce – Break out the cast iron and your favorite beer for this succulent chicken dinner!
- Latin Chicken Skillet with Black Beans + Tomatoes – You’re less than 30 minutes away from serving up a delicious, homemade chicken dinner with Latin flair! And with just a handful of ingredients and a single skillet, this Latin skillet is a perfect meal for busy weeknights.
- Latin-Spiced Pork + Squash Skillet with Chili Lime Cherries – This smoky-sweet single skillet meal is a quick and easy way to get a comfort food dinner with Latin flair on the table any night of the week.
- Lemony Almond Crusted Cod with Homemade Mayo-Free Tartar Sauce – Cod is coated with ground almonds and pan fried till beautifully flaky & tender in this delicious seafood recipe. Serve with my easy homemade tartar sauce!
- One Pan Seared Salmon and Spinach with Remoulade – This simple salmon recipe can be on your dinner table in under 20 minutes and only uses one skillet, making it a perfect seafood dinner for busy weeknights. Paired with a simple, flavorful sauce, this will quickly become a family favorite.
- Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin w Fairy Tale Eggplant & Tomatoes – Comfort food using only one pan – perfect for a weeknight dinner!
- Quick Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette – This quick, hearty make-ahead salad is perfect for lunch on-the-go or as a fresh, flavorful last minute addition to any meal. Great paired with leftover meat or tofu, or a quickly-seared piece of fish.
- Roasted Veggie Bowls with Lemon-Flaxseed Vinaigrette – A fried egg is the perfect topping for these nutrient-rich vegetarian bowls. A simple vinaigrette brightens the dish up and packs a powerful Omega-3 punch!
- Sausage and Peppers – This simple, classic Italian comfort food recipe makes a perfect weeknight meal and is easily scaled up to feed a crowd. Inspired by my Calabrese father-in-law!
- Sheet Pan Mustard Roasted Tofu & Carrots – A quick vinaigrette gives this sheet pan roasted tofu recipe lots of bright, fresh flavor. Serve with steamed rice for a colorful vegan meal in just 30 minutes!
- Single-Skillet Bacon-Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Roasted Tomatoes – A quick pan sauce is the perfect finish for these crispy-skinned chicken thighs. A family favorite single skillet meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights!
- Skillet Lasagna with Lamb, Ricotta + Mint – Fragrant rosemary enhances the flavor of this deliciously addictive one-skillet meal. Simple enough for a weeknight & impressive enough for dinner guests!
- Spicy Salmon Poke Bowls – Satisfy your sushi cravings at home without all the fuss of wrapping and rolling with this simple spicy salmon poke bowl recipe.
- Sweet Asian Baked Chicken Drumsticks – Sriracha adds a little bit of kick to this low-maintenance weeknight meal.
- Zoodle Frittata – A drizzle of aged balsamic, grated Parmesan, garden fresh tomatoes and basil adorn this deliciously elegant yet simple dish that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner.
I am all for easy weeknight meals! I have a slow cooker but haven’t purchased an Instapot as of yet. Do you recommend having both?
You know, I haven’t tried slow cooking in my Instant Pot yet but I’ve heard it isn’t the best for slow cooking. I still have both but use my Instant Pot waaaaay more often. In a perfect world, I’d have something simmering away all day in the slow cooker while making rice or mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot. One day. Ha!