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18 Dinner Recipes That Require No Planning Ahead

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It's 3 P.M. and I haven't planned dinner for tonight (or tomorrow, or the night after). That means I want to pick up groceries (a minimal amount!) on my way home and make a meal that does not require I had any sort of plan in mind. I don't want to have to wait for a sauce to reduce; I don't want to be told to start with already-cooked rice; and dear God, I don't want to pull out a slow-cooker.

To the rescue: 18 saving graces! These recipes don't ask that you've done anything to prep in advance. They understand procrastination (and the pressures of real life), and they won't have you counting down the minutes 'til the beans are cooked through.

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All you'll have to do is pick up the groceries (or you know, ask someone else to get them on their way home...):

Simple Enfrijoladas
Simple Enfrijoladas

Canned beans? Check. Eggs? Check. Onion, garlic, chili powder, butter? Check, check, check, and check. The corn tortillas? Send a roommate to get those (and some cilantro, too).

A Warm Pan of Chickpeas, Chorizo, and Chèvre
A Warm Pan of Chickpeas, Chorizo, and Chèvre

Do yourself a favor and buy the roasted red peppers from the grocery store.

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Lemon Herb Quinoa with Hemp Seeds, Spring Peas, and Basil

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Hemp Seeds, Spring Peas, and Basil by Gena Hamshaw

Soba with Parsley-Pea Pesto and Kale

Soba with Parsley-Pea Pesto and Kale by kangarhubarb

Yes please, frozen peas!

Spinach Gratin

Spinach Gratin by Lizthechef

Welsh Rarebit with Spinach

Welsh Rarebit with Spinach by cooklynveg

I have the same enthusiasm for frozen spinach.

Mushroom-Lentil Tacos with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Mushroom-Lentil Tacos with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

The most involved part of this meal—cooking lentils—is not involved at all. Make extra yogurt-tahini sauce to spread on sandwiches, or use as the base of salad dressings, later in the week.

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms

Nigella Lawson's Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme M... by Genius Recipes

Vegetable Chow Mein-ish with Asparagus, Shiitakes, and Edamame

Vegetable Chow Mein-ish with Asparagus, Shiitakes, and Ed... by Alexandra Stafford

On the left, Nigella Lawson's linguine, in which you don't even have to cook the mushrooms. The mushrooms! You don't have to cook them! Use whatever shape of pasta hanging out in your cupboard.

On the right, Alexandra Stafford via Cal Peternell's Vegetable Chow Mein-ish. You do have to cook the vegetables—but they can basically be whatever vegetables you'd like.

Curried Smoked Turkey Salad

Curried Smoked Turkey Salad by Amanda Hesser

Cheap Creamy Chicken Curry

Cheap Creamy Chicken Curry by Table9

It is taking every fiber of my being to not make a rhyme between "curry" and "hurry" right now.

Minced Chicken and Cashew with Thai Basil
Minced Chicken and Cashew with Thai Basil

Minced chicken = faster-cooking chicken.

Tahini Noodles

Tahini Noodles by Alexandra V. Jones

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles

Patricia Yeo's Sesame Noodles by Genius Recipes

Sesame noodles, the really easy way, and the still-easy-but-slightly-more-involved way. (Buy toasted sesame seeds instead of DIY-ing it, and you'll save 10 to 15 minutes.)

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad
Chickpea "Tuna" Salad

The food processor does all the chopping for you.

Sautéed Shrimp with Lemon, Garlic, and Parsley
Sautéed Shrimp with Lemon, Garlic, and Parsley

Baguette highly recommended.

Chicken and Tofu Stir Fry with Celery and Cashews
Chicken and Tofu Stir Fry with Celery and Cashews

So you have to let the chicken and tofu marinate for 20 minutes. Do that first, and by the time you're finished prepping the ingredients for the stir-fry, your protein will be rearing to go!

A Spicy Perspective's Garlic Lime Oven-Baked Salmon
A Spicy Perspective's Garlic Lime Oven-Baked Salmon

You're five ingredients and 10 or 15 minutes away from supple, spicy salmon.

Last-minute, no-planning-necessary dinners: Go! (In the comments below.)


Tags: quick dinners