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Weeknight Dinner Ideas That Are Fast and Easy

dinner ideas

In today’s world everyone seems to be in a rush, whether it’s due to deadlines at work, running late to pick up the kids or simply feeling behind on life. Dinner ideas are often the last thing we’re thinking about.

On crazy busy weeknights, instead of defaulting to an online food ordering service like GrubHub, your favorite pizza or Chinese food delivery, try cooking up something simple at home.

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With the right recipes, cooking dinner can be faster, healthier and save you money. Don’t forgo your taste buds – just pick an easy dinner idea from this arsenal of mouthwatering dishes.

Get your grill on

Fire up the grill and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. Dinner ideas are endless on the grill, so get inspired and get cooking. The best part of grilling is that it leaves the mess outside! Win, win.

Carne Asada Tacos (Camp Chef)

Grilled BBQ Pork Tenderloin Recipe (Baking Beauty)

Chicken Street Tacos (Camp Chef)

Simple, delicious salads

Salads are sometimes thought of as a side dish or appetizer, but these hearty salad recipes can stand on their own as a dinner idea. The hardest part of preparing one of these fast and fresh dinner salads will be choosing one. So add them to your dinner menu rotation and don’t forget you can easily add and subtract ingredients to your salad to customize it for your family. Opt for a homemade salad dressing like olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, or take a peek at the salad dressing recipes here.

Chef Luke Venner’s Kale Salad (CT Eats Out)

Santa Fe Tempeh Quinoa Salad (Nutrisource)

Wild Rice Salad (Williams-Sonoma)

Asian Chicken Salad (Delish)

Pasta is always a good idea

Mmm pasta! You can’t go wrong with a pasta dish when you’re in a rush. Boiling spaghetti takes about 10 minutes or less and you can make a simple sauce in just a few minutes. Lose the jarred sauce; flavorful recipes like the ones below are truly endless.

Pasta is also a great fall-back plan for when you have nothing in the house to cook. Take this as a challenge and see what you can create from the ingredients you have in your refrigerator or pantry. Or you can try SuperCook – the app lets you check off which ingredients you have at home and instantly finds matching recipes from the most popular cooking websites.

One Pan Spaghetti With Tuna, Olives, Fennel and Lemon (Nourished and Whole)

Quick and Easy Skillet Pasta (The Salted Pepper)

Crispy Oven-Fried Gnocchi and Veggies (Sustainable Cooks)

Quick soups

With a little chopping and dicing, a robust soup can be on the dinner table in less than an hour. These easy dinner soup recipes are hearty enough to call a meal and will leave you satisfied. Most soups can be frozen too, leaving you with a nutritious meal on hand for several days

Pizza Soup (Taste of Home)

Sweet Potato, Kale and Chickpea Soup (COOKIE + Kate)

Butternut Squash Soup (Simple Recipes)

dinner ideas

Delish Fish

So many people shy away from fish because they think it’s difficult to cook, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it’s really not! Fish is a great dinner idea for when you have recipe fatigue and need to mix it up because you can prepare it so many different ways. Plus, many types of fish are nutritious.

Pick from one of these easy dinner ideas and you’ll be surprised how simple cooking fish can be.

Sheet Pan Salmon With Sweet Chili Sauce (The Foodie Physician)

Sri Lankan Sambal Shrimp Salad with Green Beans, Jicama, Honeydew and Peaches (Brooks Wine)

Mom’s Fried Catfish With Hot Sauce (Food and Wine)

Slow cooker

These one-pot meals are truly the easiest dinner ideas for busy weeknights and school nights. If you don’t have a slow cooker, consider investing in one. Just throw all your ingredients into the pot in the morning and come home to a house that smells like your grandmother has been cooking a homemade meal all day!

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Corn Chowder (Side Chef)

Crock-Pot Chicken Fajitas Pasta (My Heavenly Recipes)

Slow Cooker Barbeque Beef Brisket (Betty Crocker)

Comfort foods

After a long day, what sounds better than some home-cooked comfort food? Dig into these easy-to-make, soul-satisfying dinner ideas.

5 Ingredient Cheesy Beef and Egg Noodle Casserole (Sweet Phi)

Parmesan Garlic Baked Chicken Wings (Living with Ashley)

Homestyle Meat and Veggie Lasagna (Dash of Evans)

Easy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos (Lively Table)


Even if you’re not vegetarian, try going meatless at least once a week. These simple, yet tasty recipes will surely have you coming back for seconds.

Chickpea Burgers With Spicy Harissa Yogurt Sauce (Wellness by Kristen)

Riced Cauliflower and Fresh Corn “Risotto” (Cafe 222)

Pistachio Pesto Zoodles With Avocado and Pepper (Setton Farms)


Let’s be real here. Getting your little one to eat their dinner can sometimes be harder than getting dinner on the table. Skip the hot dogs and chicken nuggets and check out these kid-friendly dinner ideas that will have their plates cleared and a new recipe in your meal plan rotation. You can thank us later.

Sloppy Joes (We’re Parents)

Brad’s Famous Grilled Cheese (Carrington Farms)

Turkey Parmesan Pasta (Moneywise Moms)

What is your go-to weeknight dinner recipe? Tell us in the comments!


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