What Quick Dinners Do You Make at Home?

What do you make on those nights when you’re tired, starving and just want something yummy before watching Homeland? We’re super basic cooks, so we’ve come up with a rotation of quick meals. We usually turn to Real Simple, since their recipes are legitimately easy with only a few ingredients. Then Alex will cook while I lean against the counter, drink white wine and chat:) Here are the 10 dinners we’ve made a million times at home, and I’d love to hear yours…

Tofu, Spinach, Corn and Goat Cheese Tacos (pictured above)

Pasta with Peas and Ham

Spaghetti with Salmon and Leeks

Linguine with Artichokes and Leeks (and lots of grated parmesan cheese)

Mustard Salmon paired with whatever vegetable you have

Shrimp with Feta

Grilled Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas (we make these ALL THE TIME)

Salmon Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

Steak with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Feta

Vegetable Chili (the prep takes a while, but it’s awesome to make for a group of friends and tastes even better the second or third day)

Back-up meals, when we don’t have much in the fridge:
* Scrambled eggs and sausages
* Baked potatoes with cheddar cheese
* Big salads with spinach, avocado, parmesan, tomatoes, pine nuts and vinaigrette
* Melted cheddar cheese sandwiches with avocado slices and dijon mustard
* Any pasta with Rao’s Homemade Sauce. Have you ever had it? My friend Erin introduced me to Rao’s jarred sauces a year ago, and now I can never go back. They’re a splurge, but they’re bursting with so much flavor that you feel like you’re eating at an Italian restaurant, and I rationalize that if we went out to dinner, we’d spend way more, right? They’re really that good.

What quick dinners do you make? Where do you find your recipes? I’d love to hear. Leave recipe links in the comments, if you’d like!

P.S. Which foods don’t you like?

(Photo by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo)

  1. delicious! so making those quesadillas tomorrow :)
    xo, cheyenne

  2. Sarah says...

    I made the tofu & goat cheese tacos for dinner tonight and they were so good!! Loved this post!

  3. Gaylen blankenship says...

    I know this is an older post, but I cannot agree with you more about Raos marinara sauce….holy cow. It’s the ONLY sauce in a jar that, as my mother would say, “I would serve to the queen”….it is delicious, and I use it for pizza sauce or sandwiches, it’s amazing. I could bathe in it.

  4. We love to roast winter squash and chicken sausage with salt and pepper and olive oil. I’ll put it over quinoa and top it with a fried egg if I’m feeling real wild :)

  5. Mmm these sound good! Although, I’m not a great fan of seafood & my boyfriend is vegetarian so we could only make a couple of these!

    My favourite quick dinners are poached eggs with spicy kale, and a wrap with haloumi, mushrooms, beetroot and pepper!

  6. My family loves my mom’s ‘Noodle Mush’- minced meat with any kind of other goodies-veg, beans, etc with noodles and tomato paste all in one pot. I like to eat mine with mayo!

  7. Quick tacos from leftovers or tofu are my absolute favorites on a busy day. Mac and Cheese is the other staple.

  8. I’m so happy to see this conversation! I’ve been asking my close friends this question a lot lately. We’ve got a toddler and new baby and I really can’t spend more than 30 minutes making something. Some of our standard meals include –

    your Panzanella recipe (all summer)
    Stir fry (tofu, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, whatever we have. sometimes i’ll leave the cut veggies raw for my toddler who will dip them in soy sauce.)
    TJs box soups – especially the tomato. They are super yummy and if you let them cook for a little bit they thicken up. I usually add some spices and fresh basil + a loaf of bread or tortilla chips and cut veggies/fruit on the side
    Smitten kitchen’s huevos rancheros – so easy to make!
    Breakfast for dinner
    Quick pasta sauce with any type of pasta.
    Quesadillas of course.

    and i’m still working on finding some other good things! i’m excited to read through all the comments

  9. When we need something quick I make pancakes, scrambles, noodles or miso soup with tofu. Our old stand by has always been egg in a hole and toast is my favorite food.

    Our three year old eats with us and she can be picky but she also surprises me with the foods that she really loves—tofu, beans, beets and broccoli!

  10. I love Rao’s! My husband picked it up last time and I loved it so much that I kept the empty jar on my countertop for a week. I vowed that I would take a photo of the jar or bring it with me to the store, but it’s harder to remember to do things with a 10 month old, so I threw it away and completely forgot the name. What an appropriately timed post!

  11. I had to come here to say that Rao’s homemade sauce is on sale through October 28th at Whole Foods! (at least, in New York City) So now is the time to stock up! I saw it and remembered this post and picked up the marinara and 4 cheese. I’m eating the 4 cheese right now and it is delicious :)

  12. Making a Rotisserie chicken in the crockpot on Sundays is one of my faves. It’s healthy, delicious and leftovers are the best (salad, tacos, quesadillas). I also love having eggs for dinner. I’ll make a big batch of scrambled eggs with spinach and then I lay out tostadas, cheese, avocado slices and salsa. So easy! Breakfast tostada bar! Dang that sounds good right now!!! Now that’s it’s Fall my go-to are soups! They are also easy and my toddler (usually) loves my soups! My favorite easy soup is either use shrimp/tilapia. I usually make my broth with whatever I got! A dash white wine and crushed tomatoes will solve it all!

  13. My favourites are breakfast for dinner!
    – eggs and bacon and homemade hash
    – French crepe filled with ham and gruyere
    – and lately Ottolenghi’s shakshouka which is fast and so exotic tasting you forget it ‘breakfast’

  14. I enjoy real simple’s quick and easy recipes too! We do pasta once a week because it’s easy yet somewhat fancy and allows me to use up whatever vegetables I have on hand. Tacos, lentil soup and rice and beans are also a favorite too!

  15. Well, everything everyone posted sounds amazing and delicious.

    In Portugal, we have an easy fix called “Roupa velha” – literally, old clothes – and it consists on getting everything you have left in the fridge and sautée it in a pan, with olive oil and garlic. Then just add some eggs and you’re done. It’s delicious.

    Here at home, our go-to quick dish is spaghetti with pesto. It is also the only store-bought sauce we use, and we need to buy it because we end up eating it on a weekly basis when we only have 10 minutes to cook up dinner.

    And soup. There is always, always, no-fuss vegetable soup in the fridge. The kids eat their vegetables and you can just whisk up an omelette or some sunny-side eggs with rye bred.

  16. This is one of our favorite cold night dinners:

    I usually chop all the ingredients the night before and then my husband gets the soup started since he gets home before me. It makes your kitchen smell oh so good and it can simmer for awhile so it’s basically foolproof.

    We do a night routine similar to what she posted…we feed our two year old his dinner as we’re prepping ours, do bathtime and book, and then once he’s down we get to eat!

  17. I’m going to have to save this post to come back for ideas later!

    In our house, caesar salad with grilled chicken, wrapped up in a piece of naan is a regular lazy night dinner.

    Also, mushrooms on toast (preferably with a creamy goat cheese).

    And Martha Stewart’s Orecchiette with with Cauliflower (although I use dried herbs in a pinch)

  18. Before moving in with my boyfriend I would eat ketchup chips for dinner on desperate nights. Now one of our major go-tos is Shakshouka! Easy and yummy

  19. Coucous! It’ great: just pour over boiling water and it’s done. Usually I throw some veg in a grill pan: bell peppers, aubergine, courgette or something, and eat it with goat’s cheese but seriously anything goes: chicken, chick peas, green beans, scallions, tomato, nuts, cooked beetroot, smoked fish… Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice.
    I do feel couscous needs spice: my go to (sounds like a lot but when you have it in your cupboard it’s really a matter of sprinkling in): cumin, coriander, a hint of cinnamon, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper. Ready-mixed ras el hanout is also great.

  20. i dunno if anyone has mentioned this above, but i ROUTINELY make eggs poached in tomato sauce and serve over parmasean polenta.

    i pour some spaghetti sauce (or just cruashed san marzano tomatoes!) into a shallow frying/saute pan, heat it up a bit. break in a couple eggs, cover and let it go until the eggs are cooked. i make polenta with chicken stock and stir in some parmasean at the end. put that into a bowl, eggs and tomato sauce on top and dinner, easy as that.

    it’s a common middle eastern breakfast, but i find it is perfect for dinner and it usually uses everything i have on hand. there’s a great recipe at smitten kitchen too, a bit more involved than my lazy version above, but still quite easy!

  21. Pasta Carbonara. As long as you have a couple eggs, some milk, parmesean, fresh ground pepper, and any veggies, you’re in business. It’s a great last minute meal.

  22. Well we usually have all the fixings for tacos. Small corn tortillas, leftover meat, lettuce & veggies to top it off. And salsa. Fast, simple, healthy, delicious.

  23. Sweet potato, zucchini, and sausage “stir-fry.” Easiest ever. Season to your liking and you got dinner…preferably with beer.

  24. OMG. I can’t imagine that you read 115 comments but I just had to RAVE about RAO’s tomato sauce too! My 2 1/2 yo has food allergies and finding food that she loves is really hard. When we found the Rao’s $10/bottle Marinara pasta sauce – she devoured the food! She was shaking as she was feeding herself pasta! We love it! And am so thankful there is another out there, ummm you, that loves it too! How fun!

  25. We also make quesadillas, usually veggie, all the time.. currently, my fave is kale and sweet potato. We’re into big salads as well, and I like to throw on roasted vegetables (Brussels sprouts, especially) and chicken sausage to make them a little heartier for dinner. Thanks for this post .. lots of good ideas!

  26. Baked sweet potatoes topped with a mixture of Italian parsely, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and olive oil. Make the topping while the potatoes are baking. Delicious, easy, and cheap.

  27. When all (or most) of the ingredients are handy, we make huevos rancheros–or at least what passes for it in our house. Toast a pre-made tortilla on the pan, heat up some black beans, chop up and avocado, and throw it all together on a plate with cheese, salsa, and sour cream on top. Bam!

    I also tend to gravitate towards Tasty Bite pre-made Indian food when my boyfriend is out of town. :) I just cook up some rice, boil a bag of dal or paneer or whatnot, and I’m good to go–with an extra serving for lunch the next day!

  28. Huevos Rancheros – We always seem to have refried beans in the cupboard, corn tortillas in the freezer (they defrost in 5 minutes on the counter), eggs and a few snippets of fresh chives from the back yard. Viola, dinner in 15 minutes easy! If it is summer time I whip up a quick Pico de Gallo for a topping. If is mid-winter, we improvise with a dash of Tapatio instead : )

    Grill cheese and Tomato bisque – we jazz this up with a mix of cheeses on hand gouda/parm/white cheddar. A sprinkle of smoked paprika on the inside before grilling in adds a nice dimension. Finally, use a cast iron skillet if you have it! it’s the only way to make a grill cheese.

  29. I’m DEFINITELY making those salmon tacos tomorrow, they sound delicious!! I’m always looking for simple recipes that don’t have 1000 random ingredients, so thanks for the tips!

  30. My sons favorite dinner is what he calls munchies.

    A few plates of fresh fruits and veggies to graze on. I’ll add a few dips like hummus or peanut butter, some cheese, and some good crusty bread. If I have it all prepared in the fridge I can put it all on the table in 15-20 minutes. We also like to have munchie picnics in the living room floor, where we talk about our day and life in general.

  31. My husband is on campus nearly 12 hours a day, so lately I’ve been turning to freezing batches of sauce or soup and heating those up for a quick, comforting, easy meal. Our latest was a broccoli, spinach, and quinoa soup. Our freezer is stocked!

  32. We had grilled pork & mango quesadillas just last night!

    This is a very popular go-to for everyone at our house (ages 7-39), and I think if your kids aren’t automatic zucchini eaters, letting them help with the grating/mixing makes this a good gateway veggie main. :)

    We are big Smitten Kitchen fans.

  33. My easy meal is fish fingers and baked beans! The boys love it but super lazy

  34. Hi! I love this post, not only because these are great ideas,but because I think our menu looks like this all the time, and sometimes I feel bad… Aka Tacos, tacos! quesadillas, pasta, pasta tacos :) my Husband loves Mexican food, and I love pasta. Two happy campers :) we also love soups and stews, mainly for the one pot clean up factor. Also. The real simple cookbook is a great resource; I cook from it weekly.

    Thanks for the post!

  35. Yum! I will definitely be trying a few of those recipes this week. Our staples are roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, chicken enchilada casserole with the left over chicken, tom kha gai soup and pasta carbonara…not a healthy option but sometimes my soul needs it!
    The tom kha gai is the easiest so we have it most frequently. The recipe can be found at

  36. Spaghettis mixed with olive oil and lemon juice, bits of tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella on top, some sea salt and fresh black pepper (for mommy and big brother, but not for little sister) is our Thursday lunch. Quick and delicious – works perfectly here in Switzerland, so why not give a try in NY? Enjoy! (As I enjoy your blog!)

  37. Thanks for the recipes. We also like to have “fast” meals. Because if you cook the whole evening and don’t forget the cleaning up afterwards there is no time left for the couple and the cuddling. ;-)

    Love, Nina

  38. I agree with Meagan (way up at the top of the comments!) Mark Bittman’s recipes are usually fail-safe – “How to Cook Everything” is such a great reference is you’re at a loss for what to make! I make his oven-fried chicken with herbs all the time when I don’t know what to do with boneless skinless chicken breasts.

    Another go-to we use is this easy stirfry:
    It’s a good sort of kitchen-sink recipe for when you have vegetables that need using up!

  39. If you like the mustard salmon, you can change it up by mixing the mustard with pesto – it makes the salmon infinitely better! I actually recently wrote a blog post on it –

    I have a bunch of other quick meals that I write about on my blog – but my absolutely favorite is the avocado, crabmeat linguine. You boil the pasta, mix in an avocado (which acts like pasta sauce) and top with crabmeat and a squeeze of lemon.

    Enjoy! :)

  40. Quinoa is a staple at our house! Mixed with kale or broccoli or Brussels sprouts and spiced up with a vinaigrette or spices. Even our 9 month old loves quinoa and broccoli!

  41. Our go-to is to put an over-easy egg over anything. Sandwiches with cheddar, an egg, spinach/kale, and whatever else we have around. Over-easy egg on top of last night’s reheated stir fry. An over-easy egg on top of a nest of pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and lots of parm and cracked black pepper.

  42. Frozen fish strips(360 brand from Whole Foods) with homemade sweet potato fries- we just cut them up, spray with oil, then bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees

    Amy’s organic Margherita frozen pizza is delicious!

    Box of Annie’s organic mac and cheese with a box of frozen chopped broccoli, and we sometimes add a can of tuna

  43. Are you familiar with Simple, easy, cheap and healthy meals. Also there is a lot of cockpot options, which I find is useful now that I’m busing kids all over for after school activities.

  44. I do tartines once a week – just a fancy name for an open-faced sandwich. My fave is whole wheat sourdough smeared with full-fat greek yogurt, smoked salmon, chives, pepper and a drizzle of honey. Sounded odd to me at first, but it’s delish.

  45. Oh my gosh THANK YOU for this post! For the past, like, month I’ve been telling my husband (who cooks us one of the same four dinners most every night) that I’d make a list of 7 easy meals that we could make every night.

    (And as for pasta sauce, I think the Mario Batali marinara is even better than the Rao’s sauce believe it or not!)

  46. We grill a LOT of chicken over here. We actually grill it at the beginning of the week and cut it into peices, then add it to salads, burritos, quesadillas, pasta-whatever and it makes a delicious quick dinner.

    Also, israeli couscous with any sauce is so delicious and so fast. One of my favorites is to actually bake chicken with butternut and put it over couscous. SO GOOD especially with brussel sprouts or asparagus.

  47. So funny that you mentioned Rao’s. I’ve recently discovered it, and it has become a staple in my house now. You are right – it is excellent quality for coming out of a jar! I love the one with eggplant in it, and there’s another with sausage that is fantastic!

  48. I’ve been making over easy eggs and putting them over a bed of arugula, some sliced avocado and radishes, topped with salsa verde and paprika. I’ll add some lemon juice to the arugula if I’m feeling fancy. It’s great because it takes 15 minutes (including cleanup!) and you can always add or switch out toppings pretty easily (like cheese or another vegetable).

  49. I use Cook Smarts for their awesome recipes and meal planning service. I’ve loved the convience, variety and ease that it provides.

  50. My favorite place to plan my weeknight meals is with Cook Smarts.

    Jess will never lead you astray! And if you don’t like what’s on the menu that week, you can easily search the archives & sub with something your family will love. Shopping lists included!

  51. Oh my gosh THANK YOU for this post! For the past, like, month I’ve been telling my husband (who cooks us one of the same four dinners most every night) that I’d make a list of 7 easy meals that we could make every night.

    (And as for pasta sauce, I think the Mario Batali marinara is even better than the Rao’s sauce believe it or not!)

  52. Those look fantastic! I have so many great recipes from your blog, thank you! Two simple meals I more toss than cook are: 1) chicken penne pesto with sundried tomatoes. I just use the sundried tomatoes in the oil and seasoning jar, use mccormack creamy pesto packets and toss everything. 2) Goya yellow rice with chicken (or shrimp), peas and pimentos (good for a side with tacos as well). I just bake chicken and cover the pan with foil so it doesn’t dry out and then just cut up into little pieces and toss with a lot of things.

  53. My go to “real” recipe is Smitten Kitchen’s shakshuka. Otherwise, I often (especially in colder weather) make some faux-Moroccan combo of potato/lentil/tomato/carrot stew or soup with couscous: easy to throw together and hard to mess up even without a recipe!

  54. ground beef with broccoli! served on top of white rice. it is so absolutely simple and best of all fast and yet it’s one that my husband loves and asks me to make once a week. sometimes I have to convince him that we should skip a week.

    link to the ground beef:

    also I make a teriyaki sauce to have on hand. then I quickly grill or bake some chicken and brush it with the sauce. serve with steamed veggies and rice. super easy! and you can prep in advanced.

    link to the sauce recipe:

    when worse comes to worse we make quesadillas with ham.

  55. Salmon with Soy Vey marinade. 450 degrees, 18-20 minutes. Boom.

  56. I LOVE Real Simple for precisely the reason you stated. The recipes are really easy and usually really tasty! My favorite really quick meal is quinoa with black beans, heated. Add some salsa, cheese, maybe some sour cream, a crunchy veggie or two (like radishes or celery), mix and eat! So easy and always delish.

  57. we do CORN Night (clean out refrigerator night (night))! Usually makes for some interesting meals. has great easy receipes as well if you are a member. you can search their archives for easy delish meals!
    I usually do their slow cooker turkey chili on top of a sweet potato! yum!

  58. Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” cookbook is full of easy, yummy dishes. I have tons of cookbooks, but that’s our go-to for sure.

  59. Soup! I make a ton of soup. Although it seems like a lot of prep, it’s really pretty simple and makes the house smell SO good. Potato corn chowder with thyme is always a top request and chicken noodle is quick if you have a plan. Broccoli cheddar is super easy along with pasta fajioli and black bean soup. Even in the summer we eat soup…

  60. I am surprised what was not on the list:
    Veggie stir-fry–
    clean out the fridge of your odds and ends veggies (we do a CSA, so there is usually a bunch to throw in); stir fry and add either an Asian sauce (combo from the fridge again: soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, rice wine, etc) or Indian spices (I buy premixed spice packs from an Indian spice store and they last between 3-5 stir fries); serve over rice or quinoa

  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

  62. My mom is Italian, so I never had jarred sauce until college. I hated it then! But now there are a few good options. I love Rao’s and also Mario Batali’s sauces. Even my mama now uses them too in a pinch!

  63. I’ve been cooking out of the Dinner: A Love Story blog/cookbook for the past year now. We love it!

    Do you really drink a glass of wine every night? i try to hold off on monday-wednesday (big sacrifice. ha!), but now i’m wondering why? to make the weekend feel special, maybe….

  64. I use a fantastic website called It gives you four recipes a week, creates the grocery list for you, AND makes a list of what you can prep ahead. The meals are super healthy and SO GOOD! They make cooking so much more fun and easy, and I am actually eating good, quick, and different meals every night. We love it at my house :)!

  65. My go-to quick dinner is stir-fry. I’ll chop all the veggies the night before, set the rice cooker so the rice is done when I get home (or use an instant rice!) so all I have to make is the sauce after work. I love following this website for their ideas:

  66. Frittatas, pastas, and salads are always nice and quick. I also do quite a few freezer meals each month. It doesn’t get much easier than “heat and eat” I joined a few months ago and it has made my meal planning and preparation so much easier. I love that every recipe has an original, gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian version. Even before I went paleo at the beginning of this month, I was trying out different versions of the recipes. Each recipe has the prep requirements clearly marked and there are often components of one dish that are incorporated into another dish that week. That saves on prep time and wasted ingredients.

  67. Sauté garlic in olive oil, break in a few eggs, cook until semi-set, sprinkle entire pan with red pepper, sea salt and oregano (or whatever dried herbs you fancy.) Remove eggs to a plate and then toss your pasta (I usually quickly boil angel hair pasta while cooking garlic/eggs) in the spiced olive oil so it is coated with garlicky goodness. Plate up your pasta with an egg (or two) on top and then sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese (use the good stuff if you’ve got it but the kind in a green can will do just fine in a pinch.) I always have all of these ingredients on hand so I can throw it together when the family is hungry. :)

  68. My go to is Caldo Tlalpeño! Classic Mexican soup with veggies, add avocado, queso fresco,cilantro, lime & canned chipotles for heat optional.

    Serve with tortillas heated directly off burners! (If I have time/remember to I’ll add some chicken too – can be rotisserie)

  69. I swear by the Rao’s sauce too. A friend gave me a recipe a few years ago where you toast some baguette slices and eat that with Rao’s sauce and goat cheese heated up! Delish.

  70. You read my mind! I am eating leftovers for lunch from a new recipe I made this week and was just thinking that I need to add it to the rotation. It was super easy! I made a big batch of quinoa on the weekend and then use it in a couple different recipes.

    My favorite super easy go-to is: roasted cauliflower, quinoa, and a lemon-dijon vinaigrette.

  71. My favorite quick meals are the ones that I can make without thinking about it – my simplified peanut sauce works great with tofu and broccoli (or green beans) and peppers. I also love doing pasta tosses with sautéed veggies and beans.

    We recently made a ton of breakfast burritos and froze them (and a bunch of sauces), which is great.

    Lately, we’ve been using CookSmarts and loving it, though. It’s really helping make week night cooking easier. It’s nice to go on auto-pilot and just have assigned nights for my husband and I. We get to eat new, generally healthy things that don’t taste like what we eat over and over and over, but also don’t have to do a ton of research.

    More info (this is my referral link):

  72. Thank you so much! Great post. I printed these as I really need more go-tos for weeknight dinners.

  73. Those quesadillas look great! We always have spinach in our fridge…I love it! But we usually just use it for salads! I will definitely have to expand its use! ;) There are so many possibilities!

  74. Great post! In response to the poster above asking what you do with the kids– I feel you! My son is 16 months and when I’m cooking dinner, he is frequently wrapped around one or both legs, crying. THE WHOLE TIME. I did recently find a way to get some peace– I clear off a toddler-arm’s reach worth of counter (usually on one side of the sink if I can), put an inch of water in the sink, stand him on a chair, and give him dishes to “wash.” It’s messy, and in my tiny kitchen, the sacrifice of counter space is an obstacle, but at least everybody is happy while dinner gets made!

  75. For simple, easy, and healthy dinners you cannot
    Her simple meal prep dinners and fun desserts have saved me
    so many times. We love the lemon chicken
    And frozen burritos!

  76. My go to meal is always bacon and egg pasta or artichoke chicken!
    Bacon and egg pasta is literally pasta, prosciutto, a cracked egg scrambled through out with lots of parmesan! It feels like yummy carbonara. I honestly can’t remember where I found the artichoke chicken recipe but it is so delicious and easy.
    Brown the artichokes in a fry pan. Take out, dust the chicken with flour and add into the same pan. Add back in the artichokes, deglaze with white wine and a touch of chicken stock and serve over pasta or rice. It is so SO good!
    In Dramatic Fashion

  77. Thank you for these! I used to make rather elaborate dinners (or plan to, anyway), but since finding out I was pregnant I’ve (a) been too tired to cook at the end of the day, and (b) not as much sounds good. Anyway, I’m going to print out all of these and keep them on hand!

    One recipe to add: we love to make salmon topped with mayo, pesto, and breadcrumbs, then broiled. It’s super easy, but feels fancier.

  78. oh my GOSH I forgot to mention this in my previous comment, but this is SUCH a winner, and it takes no time at all!

    Avocado pasta– the original recipe is here ( but I’ve found that it’s much better if I add an extra teaspoon or so of olive oil and a generous amount of parmesan (a little cheese never hurt anything, in my opinion).

    It’s so easy– just cook pasta, and in a separate bowl mash avocado together with spices, some olive oil, lemon, garlic, some parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Then toss it all together!

  79. This is so beyond helpful! Thank you for sharing! We like doing quinoa bowls – think Chipotle burrito bowls with quinoa as the base instead of rice. We throw in chicken, avocados, tomatoes, corn, black beans, sautéed veggies, hot sauce, cheese…whatever we have on hand!

  80. I have two go to meals that are super easy. The first sounds crazy, but is so simple. Dry a whole chicken really well with paper towels, put a little salt and pepper in the cavity and some about a tablespoon of salt on the outside and put it in a 450 degree oven breast side down and then walk away for 50-55 minutes. When the timer is up, take the chicken out to rest for 15 minutes while you throw some veggies (Brussels sprouts, carrots and small potatoes are all awesome here) in the oven (still 450) to roast. Dinner is served!

    The other is whatever veg we have and salmon with a jar of pesto spread over it. Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness. The oil in the pesto keeps the salmon from drying out and saves the day if you get distracted.

  81. We would usually just sauté any veggies we have in the fridge, with caramelized onions (mushrooms, celery, kale, string beans…) and have a side of quinoa/brown rice/boiled potatoes and we’d add whatever protein like baked salmon/pan seared tuna or sausages.
    But if we are veerrryyy lazy and tired …. we order Dominos! (they have a yummy gluten free option!)

  82. So what do you cook for the boys? This is always my crunch time. We get home at 5:50 pm and my son needs to eat by 6:15, and also he needs to play with me and monkey-velcro himself to my legs OR get in to something in a room where I can’t see him. It’s the most stressful 30 minutes of my day, figuring out what to cook him that’s fast and healthy while also making sure he’s not dumping the contents of my purse in the toilet… It’s best when I cook his dinner the night before and then just heat it up for him, but I don’t always have time to do that.

  83. The easiest dinner at our house is pasta. I make the cacio e pepe from jessica seinfeld’s ‘can’t cook book’ and its super easy and always satisfying. Just need pasta, butter, salt and pepper! PS Love your advice on kids meal time vs parents meal time- will look to enforce that once our kiddo arrives.

  84. Love this post
    our twins (2.5 yo) eat with us at about 6
    to get them to eat more “adult” stuff, we serve them in “courses” — veggies first, then starch, then meat
    We sit down as they are eating the “meat” serving
    Totally use the fancy grill cheese ideas mentioned, usually served with soup (tomato and chickpea is a current fav — just onion sautéed, then add splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, dash of sugar, and whatever herbs, simmer for 15, blend in blender)
    Meatloaf (ground beef, carrots & onions chopped in food processor, breadcrumbs, parmesan, then smothered in ketchup worchester and bbq sauce)
    Hamburgers with oven fries
    chicken & broccoli with pasta in olive oil & garlic sauce & lots of parmesan
    ground lamb sautéed with onions, add peas and carrots and boiled frozen gnocchi and jarred tomato sauce (sometimes use string beans instead of peas)
    Italian egg drop soup — chicken broth, add swish chard or chopped spinach, then stir in a lightly scrambled (but uncooked) egg and top with park

  85. also! we recently learned that garam masala is the KEY to nearly all indian dishes. however, it can be added to roasted vegetables for a more flavorful yet healthy meal. we’ve been roasting diced butternut squash in the oven tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garam masala (SO SO SO GOOD guys!!)

  86. we usually have a mexican night (not easy, cos it has so many components and uses all the pots and pans lol). but our go to easy dinners include a sandwich night (tuna, chicken, or egg salad), grilled cheese and easy tomato soup, steak and mash potatoes or stovetop mac and cheese, or crepes.

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  88. What a great list! We make tuna melt sandwiches with kettle chips on the side, super quick and tasty.

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  91. I have the cookbook from Vij’s in Vancouver and I use the basic masala curry recipe as my go-to all the time – I always have all the things around. I also like pancakes, black bean and corn tacos, and spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil.

  92. Hi! I am new to your blog and was pleasantly surprised to see the oh-so-familiar (to us) image of the tofu tacos front and center of your post! It is a staple in our rotation, as well, and we often use it as a “convert” meal for our meat-loving friends to try vegetarian cuisine! Can’t wait to look into some of the other recipes!

  93. My three favourite and quick pasta sauces to make; Amatricianna (two sliced garlic cloves, bacon,chilli flakes and tinned tomato),
    puttanesca ( 2 cloves garlic, anchovies, black pitted olives, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano)
    Carbonara (25g pancetta fried, then beat 2 eggs, 50g grated Parmesan, black pepper, together in bowl, drain pasta, add pasta to pan with pancetta pour in egg mixture and stir and serve)
    Cheaper and better than jars

  94. anything pasta is really quick to me :)

    and can we talk about homeland? love love that show. I want Carrie and Quinn to get together :)

  95. I don’t have a link, but lately I’ve been making really quick Asian-style lettuce wraps. I scoop ground chicken flavored with soy and hoisin into butter lettuce leaves and top with shredded carrots, peanuts, cilantro and thinly sliced cucumber. They’re fun to assemble and done in like 20 minutes tops.

  96. these days, we cook dinner for the boys around 6:30pm and they eat at the table while we all sit down together and talk about our days. but alex and wait to eat ourselves until after the boys are in bed. (the boys go to bed around 7:30pm, then i usually work for an hour or two, and then we usually eat around 9:30 or 10—super late, i know!) i love having dinner alone with alex since then we can drink wine, have an adult conversation, etc. it’s a really cherished part of our day. that schedule is working well for everyone right now. i think when the boys get a little older, though—maybe when anton is 3?—and have dinner a little later, we’ll have more of a family dinner? i’d actually love to talk more about this kind of thing—maybe i’ll do a post on family dinners next monday. thank you!! xoxo

  97. thanks for these comments and recommentations!!

  98. I regularly make several recipes you have posted! They are so easy and yummy.

    Outside of that, however, I really enjoy these recipes:
    Spicy shrimp and Brussels sprout salad

    Sweet potato veggie burger

    Black bean enchiladas

    Veggie chicken and dumplings (I make it in the crock pot ahead of time)

    Thanks for the recipe exchange!

  99. Great suggestions! Now for Homeland…how awkward was that closing scene from last week’s episode?!

  100. Those recipes looks great! I live near a butcher that makes great sausage, so I often will make a big salad and put a sausage in a skillet and call it a day.

    I also will often make this spicy honey chicken–it’s fast and tastes like “mom” food, if you know what I mean. (, but I also use it on tofu/fish/salmon/whatever.

    My last go-to is to make “dragon bowls” or whatever they are called–they have ten thousand names! I just cook brown rice or tofu and make some kind of sauce–the jarred peanut satay sauce works in a pinch. Then I just chop up a bunch of vegetables and open a can of chickpeas and put then on top! (this sauce is good

  101. I am pinning a couple of these. I love these kinds of posts. Our old standbys include spaghetti and meatballs, mustard-maple salmon, turkey burgers and oven fries, shrimp scampi, black bean quesadillas, vegetable frittata…

    My favorites for recipes are Real Simple, Dinner: A Love Story, and Cooking Light.

    PS – I had heard such great things about Rao’s, so when I saw it on sale one week I decided to give it a try. I don’t like it! Too oily for my taste. Just as well, since it’s so stinkin’ expensive!

  102. Thank you!! thank you!!!! thanks you!!! Its like you read my mind. We are in the middle of a move and neeeeeeeeed quick and delicious options for diner. I’m new to your blog and LOVE it. Can’t believe its taken me so long to find it !!

  103. In an pinch, we opt for crepes. They are quick, filling, my kids love them and the clean up afterward is minimal!
    We like to dress them up with squeezed lemon or lime, brown sugar and/or strawberries & bananas, a few times we have even gone for more savoury fillings such as asparagus & hollandaise sauce.

  104. We dice and saute a sweet potato and right at the end of cooking we add some chopped sage leaves and a good sprinkle of coarse salt. Then we toss in some chopped hard-boiled egg and cooked penne. Sounds weird, but it’s unreal!

  105. Favorite soup with garlic bread is Boiled potato soup:
    4-5 Boiled potatoes cut in chunks
    1 Can cream of mushroom soup
    Chopped parsley
    Chopped fresh spinach
    Canned or frozen spinach will do
    1 Onion chopped or sliced thin
    1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
    Garlic powder and black pepper to taste

    Saute the onion well in olive oil; add potato, stir; add the cream of mushroom soup and other ingredients. Cook over low simmer until thoroughly hot.
    Its just as good with only the cream of mushroom soup, chopped potato and spinach. Other cream of soups can replace the mushroom. For a change, try the cream of celery with yams and garlic break with a dustng of dry sage and side dish of cranberry sauce.

  106. Those all look delicious. LOVE quick dinners. I’m so curious about what your evening routine is like. When are you guys at home with the kids, do you eat dinner all together or after the boys are in bed, what time, etc. Do you prepare separate dinners for the boys? Just in case you ever feel like sharing… :)

  107. I’ve been into grain salads lately for a quick, healthy meal- cook any grain and throw in whatever you have around- chickpeas (so good when they’re crisped in the oven), roasted veggies with different spices, cheese, greens, chicken, nuts, etc. Then mix in some vinaigrette and that’s it! The leftovers are perfect for lunch. I of course love Smitten Kitchen, but her recipes can be a bit more time-consuming- but always worth it. Her fritter recipes are easy and great for families. Thanks for the suggestions, Jo!

  108. I’m curious if you’re cooking and eating these after the littles are in bed? Not that they wouldn’t enjoy all those foods, but your description of the cooking process sounds so chill!

  109. this summer i was super lazy with cooking so i would buy a loaf of rustic bread and top with whatever fresh (or roasted or pickled) vegs i picked up from the market that weekend. it made for the most perfect at home picnic. i made homemade lactose free ricotta to slather on.

  110. Lu says...

    my go-to’s are two recipes I came up with. the first is my husband’s fave, creamy chicken with chills (spinach, tomatoes, elbows, cream, chicken, onions and mild chills). My fave is roasted garlic and cauliflower soup (cauliflower, chicken broth, onion, garlic). it’s so creamy and savory! both take hardly any time and use only one pot.

  111. I made lasagna roll ups on Monday and it was surprisingly easy. It looks like you made a whole load of effort but not really and you can be creative with it and come up with a different ideas for fillings/sauces. For the filling I grilled some chicken and eggplant cut into small bites with salt and pepper, and then mix in some alfredo bacon sauce that I bought at the supermarket and a little ham. Rolled up the pasta with the filling, put it in a pan with more sauce on top, some parmesan and italian herbs mix, 5 min in the oven and that’s it! Looks nice and fancy but it’s pretty simple, and it’s a great way to use leftovers ;) I wanna try it next with italian sausage, mozzarella and pomodoro sauce, yum!

  112. I love Real Simple for recipe ideas! They’re always so flavorful and quick.

    Mustard crusted pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes is a very quick (and impressive, for company) meal that doesn’t take long at all. You rub the tenderloin down with salt, pepper, and mustard, sear it in an oven-safe skillet on all sides, then finish it off in the oven for about 10 minutes. At the same time, boil your potatoes and when they’re cooked through (and fall off a fork when pierced), drain and smash with butter, salt, and milk. Let the pork rest, slice it up, plate over potatoes and voila!

  113. My boyfriend and I always make burrito bowls; chili; or rice with brussel sprouts, chicken stock, and lots of butter. Oh and for lunch we ALWAYS share one sweet potato, one avocado, and two soft boiled eggs with butter. It’s kind of a random combination, but it has become addictive.

  114. And what are the kids doing while you’re cooking? My 2 year old Barnaby doesnt let me cook for more than 5 min…

  115. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I struggle so much with meal planning and this will definitely be bookmarked and utilized! Perfect timing too as I just set a goal to be more organized in this area. :)

  116. I am guilty of turning to a bowl of cereal when I get to that point so I am really excited for this list :)

  117. I like to make a spicy spinach and carrot lentil stew. Especially in the all and winter months. I make a bunch of one pot meals and soups. My mom would always make a kale, potato and pork sausage soup that would knock your socks off.


  118. SO funny you mentioned Rao’s sauce because that is the only jarred sauce I ever buy! My two year old loves it. I also have a recipe book from Real Simple that I go to all the time because the recipes are so, well, simple!

  119. I am obsessed with Rao’s! I tend not to buy it (Wegman’s is almost as good but $8 less) but my mom gives my Rao’s as a present when I am home :)

  120. Quick dinners are so important! We make ‘fancy’ grilled cheeses with apples, mustard, cheddar and turkey…a quiche/fritata to use up anything in the fridge, quick soup recipe (there are so many online) and crusty bread, and the most popular of all is a ‘smorgasbord’ of veggies, fruit, cheese, olives, guac, crackers, etc. This is ALWAYS a winner!

  121. Spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and olive oil) is my boyfriend’s all times favourite so we make it a lot! I also love pasta with pesto and fried onions :) we are really “pasta people” haha


  122. my favorite post ever – so helpful!! always running out of cooking ideas – thank you!

  123. your kiddos will eat all that!? lucky! i got so tired of cooking meals that went uneaten by the littles that I feel like my repertoire is so dumbed down these days…

  124. The yummiest…
    Salad, so.. Lettuce, two boiled eggs, bacon, avocado and sometimes cheese. The longest part is boil the eggs, which is 9 minutes :)
    And ready to go!

  125. ground meat (or a burger) with sweet potatoes roasted cut side down. the sweet potatoes are excellent for breakfast or a midnight snack too!

  126. Those all look delicious, I’ll have to check out that sauce! I’m a sucker for good pasta sauce. We love to make Mexican bowls, we throw in rice, black beans, cheese, taco sauce, whatever meat we have on hand, veggies, sour cream and guacamole. It feels like a treat and we can throw in just about anything. I can see how important quick meals are when you have two kids at home, I’m sure it’ll just get tighter when we have homework!

    Wonderful post, thank you!