Dinner, Faster

7 Dinners That Are Quicker (& Cheaper!) Than Ordering In

March 26, 2018

When I get home at 7:30 p.m., I don’t really feel like making an hour-long-plus, kitchen-destroying kind of dinner. And despite my best intentions to experiment with make-ahead meals, oftentimes I find myself picking up a premade salad at the grocery store or scrolling through menus on Seamless. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a break on those really rough days, but we all know that ordering in can quickly add up. So, in an effort to push myself back into the kitchen, I’ve looked for speedy, satisfying recipes that I can pull together in a tired state...and that won’t make a dent in my bank account. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Instant noodles also make the fastest pizza crust—simply cook an egg-noodle mixture in a skillet over low heat for 20 minutes, then top it and pop it into the oven for another 10. Presto, personal pizza.

Another work of cheese alchemy from Sarah Jampel: Freckled tortillas filled with just as many sautéed greens as strings of melty cheese. If you’re lucky, it’ll pull apart in gossamer strands as soon as you bite in.

All the flavors of kung pao chicken, but starring the humble spud. The recipe takes a smart trick from our favorite, J. Kenji López-Alt—parcooking the potatoes in vinegar-spiked water to create cubes that are firm on the outside yet fluffy on the inside.

The beauty of this creamy mess of greens and rice (with the added heft of white beans) is that it’s hands off. Pop your pot into a 400° F oven for exactly 17 minutes and dinner is served.

A loose interpretation of the classic French salad that begins with hard-boiling a bunch of eggs, which you probably already have in your fridge.

Canned chickpeas get dressed up and take on all the flavor (and none of the fuss) of linguine con le vongole.

If you’re gonna go with a grilled cheese, make sure it’s a good one. This one has the presence of a diva but will be ready for the show in 15 minutes flat.

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What’s a quick dinner you whip up when you’re tired? Share tips in the comments below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Christine S. March 29, 2018
I always keep fresh Japanese or Korean noodles in the fridge, so throwing a handful in a pot with any kind of broth or miso with spinach and an egg poached on top is a go-to.
Miso brushed on an eggplant halved or sliced and broiled in the oven and thrown over rice is a primal chow for me also. Zucchini works nicely, too.
On those days I have 15 minutes, I will make an omelet and whip in a splash of sherry and throw in whatever greens like spinach or baby kale in, and if any leftover BBQ pulled pork is hanging about, that goes in too. I've subsituted leftover shredded chicken with smoked salt, smoked paprika, and a dash of chili powder also.
Frederique M. March 29, 2018
Quick-mock shashuka. I ALWAYS have a jar of good tomato sauce in the fridge for quick zoodles for lunch, but sometimes i'm even too lazy to boil pasta for supper, and zoodles are just not satisfying enough at the end of the day. SO dump a good laddle full of tomato sauce in a frying pan, crack two eggs into them, toast a piece of 12 grain artisan bread, slather butter, dump pre-washed salad and dressing in a plate, add mess of eggs and tomato sauce, piece of slathered toast. THERE. 10mins TOPS.
Ttrockwood March 26, 2018
Actually another of your recpes is my go to! I swap arpund what oil and nuts or seeds i use, and since i’m lactose intolerant (and hate goat cheeses- ugh) i use nutritional yeast instead of cheese. It’s such an easy awesome recipe that’s fast and healthy and leaves me enough for lunch the next day too!
HalfPint March 26, 2018
Over-easy eggs on top of hot cooked rice with a generous drizzle of soy sauce (or Maggi).
FS March 29, 2018
I do the eggs w rice thing too, only with the addition of sautéed green onions. Oh, and don't forget a sprinkle of Korean red pepper on top of the delicious mess - so good!!
Eva March 30, 2018
Yaaaas this is my go-to, often accompanied by some kimchi.

If I’m feeling fancy, I fry the egg gently in some sesame seeds and a little drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
FS March 30, 2018
Yum yum!!