Who knew that one of the more challenging parts of being an adult would be coming up with dinner ideas every single night of the year? And then having to make them! That’s why having a list of go-to quick dinner ideas can help on those hectic nights.
Between work, childcare, afterschool activities, errands, and chores, some nights there isn’t a lot of time to cook. Or if you’re like us and cook some meals on trips to keep costs lower, you don’t want to spend your precious vacation time in the kitchen.
These 53 quick dinner ideas will get a meal on the table in record time and keep you from hitting the convenient but expensive order button on your food delivery app.
6 Tips for Making Quick Dinners Even Easier
- Buy meat in bulk or stock up when it is on sale and freeze it in individual portions to save money. If you have extra time- cook or season the meat for your favorite recipes to make it even easier and faster for you!
- Cook and freeze small portions of basic building blocks that you can throw into a recipe. You can make stock, caramelized onions, sauteed vegetables, basic cream sauces, and other ingredients you find yourself needing a lot. Freeze these, label them well, and pull them out when you need them.
- Create a rotation of meals that you constantly have in your house. Keep a set shopping list of all the ingredients you need to have in your house at all times.
- Have one or two quick dinner ideas that you know how to make well and have all the ingredients in your house all the time. Look for receipes that can be made with a combination of frozen and pantry items. Those days when you are running late, or something goes wrong? Quickly whip up one of those instead of heading to your local restaurant.
- When you have extra time, make doubles of recipes that freeze well and keep your freezer stocked with an extra meal or two (or more), so you always have something to eat. We regulary do this with tacos, soup and meat sauce for spagetti.
- Pasta is the Queen of cheap and easy foods. I love making pasta for my family as a quick, easy supper because it is so versatile. I leave some plain for those very picky eaters who won’t eat anything.
1. Vegan Pasta Al Limone
A classic Italian pasta dish with the creamiest lemon sauce! This Vegan Pasta al Limone recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, allergy-free, and still so simple and easy to make! This authentic Southern Italian pasta sauce is cheesy, buttery, tangy, super creamy, and comes together in one pan for a quick and delicious meal ready in 10 minutes!
Image Credit: Marcus Z-pics / iStock.
2. Chicken Thyme Pasta
This chicken thyme pasta cooks in just 20 minutes! If you’re looking for an easy meal everyone will love, then this pasta dish is for you! This chicken thyme pasta is super comforting and rich. The dish is cooked with fusilli pasta, cream, thyme, and juicy chunks of chicken. The ultimate date night meal!
Image Credit: ogeday çelik / iStock.
3. One-Skillet Cacio e Pepe Rigatoni
A foolproof recipe for cacio e pepe rigatoni that uses a blend of pecorino romano and parmesan cheeses. And did I mention you only need one skillet? ONE SKILLET! cacio e pepe is a cheesy, peppery pasta — like a very fancy kind of mac and cheese. It’s so, so good, and just extremely comforting to eat on those nights when you just can’t be bothered to make something with more than four ingredients.
Image Credit: NataBene/ iStock.about:blank
4. One-Pot Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce
This pasta with Pumpkin Sauce is quick and easy to make, easy to clean up, and will feed the whole family! It’s hearty, flavorful, and cozy. With only one pot required, and less than ten ingredients, this pasta is easy to cook and easy to clean, which (hi, busy mom, here!), we can all appreciate!
Image Credit: A_Lein / iStock.
5. 25 Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta
25 Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta is an easy weeknight meal and a great entertaining option all wrapped into one! It is surprisingly fast and easy, yet full of bright, fresh flavors that everyone will enjoy.
Image Credit: Anna Gass.
6. Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta
Make a restaurant-worthy creamy mushroom pasta dish with ease at home! You roast the mushrooms with garlic and butter, and the pasta is tossed with a velvety garlic sauce, served with creamy, luxurious burrata cheese that makes the perfect creamy garlic mushroom sauce.
Image Credit: barol16 / iStock.about:blank
7. Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Southern baked macaroni and cheese, also called soul food mac and cheese, is the ultimate comfort food. Creamy, rich, ooey-gooey, super cheesy, with those crispy browned cheese edges…no one can resist perfectly baked mac and cheese.
Image Credit: Mariha-kitchen / iStock.
8. Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
Sweet sun-dried tomatoes and vegan cream sauce come together to make a dish that gives you the best of both worlds. It’s creamy, cheesy, 100 percent vegan, and is easy to make.
Image Credit: ALLEKO / istockphoto.
9. 20 Minute Sweet and Spicy Noodles
These Sweet and Spicy Noodles are a Thai-inspired fast, easy weeknight dinner that can be ready and on the table in just 20 minutes! These 20 Minute Sweet and Spicy Peanut Noodles are so easy and so spicy with a lovely hint of sweetness.
Image Credit: Tharakorn / iStock.about:blank
10. 5 Ingredient Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
These 5-ingredient spinach and ricotta stuffed shells are a quick and simple vegetarian pasta dinner that is perfect for a busy weeknight or a special occasion. These easy stuffed shells provide a comforting, wholesome, flavorful treat and make the perfect 30-minute meal the whole family will enjoy.
Image Credit: Olga Mazyarkina / iStock.
11. One-Pot 20 Minute Greek Pasta
It’s a one-pot wonder ready in just 20 minutes! This Mediterranean-inspired One Pot 20 Minute Greek Pasta is a dump and makes a vegetarian dinner that’s bound to be a family favorite like it’s become in our house!
Image Credit: martinrlee / iStock.
Vegetarian Dinner Ideas That Are Perfect
If you are looking for a cheap and quick vegetarian dinner to make, then look no further. If you want to save money and eat healthier, then one of these vegetarian dinner ideas will be a perfect dinner for you or your family.
Image Credit: adisa.about:blank
12. Keto Feta and Spinach Omelets for Egg Haters
This low-carb egg and spinach with Bulgarian feta cheese is the perfect keto staple meal for your easy sugar detox plan and one of my most favorite gut-healthy foods and egg fast diet plan dinner (and breakfast) ideas. This low-carb vegetarian recipe is straightforward to make food and excellent for your slim down diet!
Image Credit: ivandzyuba / iStock.
13. Pizza Rice Casserole
This Pizza Rice Casserole is a favorite weeknight dish with all the pizza components without the crust. You don’t need to wait for a pizza crust to rise or a pizza stone to heat up for this cozy dinner.
Image Credit: Azurita / iStock.
14. Harissa Falafel
Flavourful, soft, perfectly-textured falafel with a crisp outer, you’re going to love this vegetarian harissa falafel recipe! The whole wrap is super easy to make and tastes like you are walking in the market in the Middle East.
Image Credit: Nataly Hanin / iStock.about:blank
15. Spanish Rice and Beans
Spanish Rice and Beans from Platter Talk is a fast, easy, and healthy meal to feed your family! Who said living on a diet of rice and beans needs to be boring? Trust me, with this dish you won’t feel poor!
Image Credit: Fudio / iStock.
16. Mushroom Stew
This mushroom stew is an easy one-pot meal that is ready in less than 30 minutes. You can eat this delicious Mushroom Stew all year round, and it goes well with pasta, quinoa, rice, or mashed potatoes. A nourishing stew that has no meat in it? Sign me up!
Image Credit: ALLEKO / iStock.
17. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Taco Tuesday just got a healthy makeover with these sweet potato and black bean tacos. Ready in just 25 minutes, sweet potato tacos are perfect for when you want a fantastic dinner but are short on time.
Image Credit: paulacobleigh / istockphoto.about:blank
18. Amazing Vegetarian Quesadilla Recipe
These quesadillas are quick, delicious, and packed full of vegetables. The crisp tortillas, melted cheese, and big flavor make them a favorite for the whole family. This recipe is so simple that kids can get involved in making vegetarian quesadillas too.
Image Credit: Максим Крысанов / iStock.
19. Vegetarian Quinoa Enchilada Bake
This vegetarian quinoa enchilada bake is perfect for busy weeknights. It also freezes well and is a great dish to use to stock up your freezer. I love this recipe because it can be tailored to fit a lot of different dietary needs.
Image Credit: letterberry/istockphoto.
20. Lentil Dahl
This simple and delicious lentil dhal is made with just a few pantry ingredients. Red lentils are cooked with fragrant spices and creamy coconut milk until a creamy and thick texture is reached.
Image Credit: GEOLEE / istockphoto.about:blank
21. Easy Vegan Paella Recipe
Try something new with this easy vegan paella recipe. The recipe makes four servings, so great for a family or two meals for two adults.
Image Credit: ikrents / iStock.
22. Sweet Potato Curry
This sweet potato curry requires just one pan. That’s it. Quick and Easy with no crazy clean-up – just delicious and creamy coconut curry to eat after a long work week. Who doesn’t love a good curry? This simple, 1-pot curry recipe is the answer to cold weather. It makes meal prep a breeze!
Image Credit: Roxiller/ istockphoto.
23. Peanut Tofu Satay Curry
This Peanut Tofu Satay Curry is easy to make, super satisfying, and full of flavor. It’s rich and creamy, nutty, fragrant, salty-sweet, and perfectly spicy. It’s easily customizable, packed with veggies, comforting, and warming. It’s hearty and satisfying and super easy to make as it’s made in one pot and ready in 20 minutes!
Image Credit: Amarita/istockphoto.about:blank
24. Easy Mediterranean Buddha Bowl
Love buddha bowls? Love bright, bold Mediterranean flavor? Then, you’ll love these easy-to-meal prep bowls filled with flavorful quinoa, arugula, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, olives, feta cheese, and hummus.
Image Credit: vaaseenaa / iStock.
Quick Chicken Dinner Recipes: Make an Easy Chicken Dinner
Do you have some chicken in the house? Then, try one of these easy, healthy, and quick chicken dinner recipes for yourself or your family. You can use leftover chicken for some of these recipes as well, making it a doubly cheap and easy dinner!
Image Credit: zi3000 / iStock.
25. Chipotle Chicken Tacos
Chipotle Chicken Tacos are an easy weeknight meal ready in about 30 minutes! These tacos are spicy and a bit sweet, with a sauce made with chipotle peppers, onion, and lime. Perfect if you are looking for summer dinner ideas.
Image Credit: rebeccafondren / iStock.about:blank
26. Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers
This Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers recipe is one of the best and easiest healthy weeknight meals of all time! Bell peppers are gently broiled and stuffed with tender chicken, cauliflower rice, fresh pico, and avocado.
Image Credit: ARTindividual / iStock.
27. Gluten-Free Chicken Fried Rice
This chicken-fried rice recipe is ready in just 10 minutes! Using leftover chicken is even quicker (and more nutritious) than getting take-out! This recipe is such an easy recipe to throw together after a busy workday! It’s such a quick, easy dinner.
Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.
28. Spanish Chicken Stew
This Spanish Chicken Stew comes together in less than half an hour but tastes like it’s cooked for hours, a hearty chicken stew full of warming rosemary, lemon, and garlic flavors. It one of my favorite weeknight dinners for years – and great to keep in the freezer for cold days when you need to warm up.
Image Credit: JoeGough / iStock.about:blank
29. Chicken Leg Quarters Recipe
You only need five ingredients and 5 minutes to put these chicken leg quarters together. This recipe is ridiculously easy, and the result is way more flavorful and delicious than you would imagine.
Image Credit: Vladimir Mironov/ iStock.
30. Pineapple Chicken
This healthy one-skillet pineapple chicken includes chicken breasts stir-fried with fresh ginger, garlic, and vegetables, all in a sweet pineapple sauce. I love meals like this, where the grocery list can be short.
Image Credit: bhofack2/ iStock.
31. Apricot Chicken
This Skillet Apricot Chicken is pan-seared until golden and juicy, then covered in a sweet and sticky apricot jam glaze! It’s an easy weeknight dinner made in one pan (or electric skillet) in just 25 minutes.
Image Credit: ALLEKO / iStock.about:blank
32. Cinnamon Chicken
This Cinnamon Chicken recipe is deliciously savory with a surprising burst of flavor! Shop your pantry and use what you have on hand to make a complete meal. Use for weekly meal prep with various sides.
Image Credit: etorres69 /iStock.
33. Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
This Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe comes together in 30 minutes and packs a ton of flavor and veggies! Make this soup for dinner any night of the week, or freeze some for later.
Image Credit: Enio DePaz / iStock.
34. Egg Roll Noodle Bowl
When your favorite egg roll is put in a skillet – with various vegetables, chicken, noodles, and sauce, further stir-fried to make the best egg roll noodles, make the best and easy under 30min dinner – egg roll noodle bowl. Serve these with a salad of your choice.
Image Credit: Brett_Hondow / iStock.about:blank
35. Orange Chicken
Less than 30 minutes from start to finish, this Orange Chicken is bound to become your new favorite! It’s way better than takeout. It’s fresh, light, and filled with those signature flavors you crave and love. Serve with broccoli or cauliflower rice for a healthy Whole30 approved meal that the whole family will love!
Image Credit: rez-art / iStock.
36. Keto Cashew Chicken
This paleo & keto cashew chicken recipe is a 30-minute meal that features tender, stir-fried chicken in a thick and flavorful sauce with cashews that tastes just like take-out, only better!
Image Credit: vanillla / iStock.
37. Herb-Roasted Sheet, Pan Chicken
This Herb-Roasted Sheet, Pan Chicken recipe, made with chicken thighs, gold potatoes, and fresh green beans, makes a delicious and easy weeknight meal. This is a nutritious dinner that the whole family will devour!
Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.about:blank
38. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Sheet pan chicken fajitas made with marinated strips of chicken, bell peppers, and onions served on a warm tortilla shell topped with green chili aioli. It’s all done in just 30 minutes!
Image Credit: Anna Gass.
39. Honey and Lemon Chicken and Rice
Tender, juicy chicken breast cooked with rice and seasoned with honey and lemon is a delicious twist on chicken and rice. Cooked in one pot, this recipe has dinner on the table in a snap!
Image Credit: gbh007 / iStock.
40. Easy Ramen Noodle Recipe
You can make this Easy Ramen Noodle Recipe in less than 30 minutes. Throw that salty preservative package away and make a delicious and homemade meal that everyone will love.
Image Credit: satoriramenbar / Instagram.about:blank
Quick Meat Dishes for Dinner
Have some meat in the house? Do you have a craving for some steak or some takeout? Check out some of these quick meat dishes for dinner.
Image Credit: golubovy / istockphoto.
41. Steak Salad with Avocado Dressing
This grilled steak salad is a healthy, colorful, and flavorful meal topped with a homemade avocado cilantro dressing. The options for personalizing this salad are endless: the beef steak can be either grilled or pan-fried before slicing, and all the toppings can be customized to your dietary preferences!
Image Credit: martinturzak / iStock.
42. Homemade Sloppy Joes
Needing an inexpensive and easy idea for dinner? Homemade Sloppy Joes! Yes, these are easy and fast, and I am not talking about pouring it from a can. Homemade is the way to go, and I bet you already have these ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry.
Image Credit: bhofack2/ iStock.about:blank
43. Slow Cooker Chinese Take-Out Beef and Broccoli
This Slow Cooker Chinese Take-Out Beef and Broccoli is easy on your wallet and gives you free time to do more of the things you love. Who needs take-out when you can make this delicious meal in your house?
Image Credit: rez-art / iStock.
44. Asian Steak Bites and Potatoes
This Asian Steak Bites and Potatoes features seared beef cubes and potatoes in garlicky butter and soy-based sauce. It comes together in under 30 minutes, and everything is cooked in just one pan.
Image Credit: karandaev / istockphoto.
45. Honey and Chili Crispy Beef Recipe
This honey and chili crispy beef recipe is way better than takeout. You’re going to be so shocked when you find out how easy it is to make this tasty meal in just 30 minutes!
Image Credit: va103 / iStock.about:blank
46. The Best Easy Taco Salad Recipe
This easy taco salad comes together in a flash, especially if the ground beef is cooked ahead of time – which it could be if you follow my quick dinner cooking tips above!
Image Credit: bhofack2/ iStock.
Fish Recipes for Dinner: Best Easy Dinner
Do you love eating fish? Fish can be a super easy and quick dinner that is healthy and delicious. Enjoy one of these quick dinner recipes!
Image Credit: amenic181 / iStock.
47. Easy Mahi Mahi Recipe with Lemon Garlic Sauce
This is a simple and wildly delicious way to prepare and serve this tender, flakey, and popular white fish. If you can’t find mahi-mahi, replace it with another type of flakey white fish.
Image Credit: Saddako / iStock.
48. Creamy Salmon Pasta
Super quick make in ten minutes creamy salmon pasta that the whole family loves! This pasta is so quick to get ready. It only takes the pasta cooking time plus 5 minutes to stir through!
Image Credit: Dar1930 / iStock.
49. Quick and Easy Canned Salmon Impossible Pie
This unbelievably easy recipe for canned salmon impossible pie is healthy, economical, and takes just 10 minutes to put together! Made with pantry staples, it’s ideal if you’re stuck at home with few ingredients on hand or need to get dinner on the table quickly.
Image Credit: mikafotostok / iStock.
50. Baked Salmon in Foil
Baked salmon in foil is a moist, flavorful, and flaky whole side of salmon infused with lemon garlic butter sauce. It makes an excellent centerpiece for your holiday dinner table, and it’s also perfect for making dinner without a special occasion. Salmon in foil is healthy, easy, and ready in under half an hour!
Image Credit: gbh007 / iStock.
51. Tuna and Sweet Corn Pasta
Whip up this super simple tuna and sweet corn gluten-free pasta dish using a handful of store cupboard ingredients. It’s so delicious, packed with bold flavors, you can even serve it hot or cold – the choice is yours!
Image Credit: martinrlee / iStock.
52. 10-Minute Blackened Tilapia
Tilapia fillets are coated with an amazingly flavorful blackened spice rub and pan-fried to perfection. It is super quick! Less than 10 minutes to make this blackened tilapia, and that includes the prep time as well.
Image Credit: Dan Totilca / iStock.
53. Pan-Seared Salmon
This pan-seared salmon is a quick, delicious take on seafood flavors. It’s a lemon-garlic seasoned filet with baked broccoli to complete a multi-textured and filling dinner!
Image Credit: Istock.
File Away Quick Dinner Ideas
Cooking at home is one of the best frugal living tips you can use! A home-cooked meal is a satisfying and warming end to a long day. When you don’t have time to sit and cook for a long time or don’t have the luxury of a croc-pot or instant pot to throw up supper, these quick dinner ideas are the perfect recipes to eat after a long day. These easy dinner ideas will make meal prep a breeze, and with this list, you won’t have to spend too much time deciding what to make for any weeknight dinner.
Robyn is a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. She has her MBA and has been studying Personal Finance on her own for as long as she can remember. She has always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start her blog after a period of extended unemployment. She says that experience really changed the way she viewed her relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education. Read more at A Dime Saved.