I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm an introvert and a homebody. Friday night to Sunday is this precious pause of time and space; I get to catch up with a close friend or two over a video chat and cuddle with my dog, Quentin. The weekend is a gift we don't take lightly.
But it’s a cycle: Sunday afternoon hits, and you start thinking about all the fun things you didn't get to this weekend. Then Sunday evening rolls around, and that Monday-morning meeting looms just a little larger with every passing hour. Before you know it, the weekend is gone...forever. It's the “Sunday Scaries,” as some people like to call that sudden surge of dread (and by “some people,” yes, I mean me).
In times like these, I like to turn, of course, to the kitchen. It helps to have a couple of simple, reliable dinners on hand—a warm and cozy stew, some crispy chicken thighs with white rice, or a plate of creamy risotto with shrimp, maybe. Protein and carbs, essentially, to ensure that you're fully fueled for the week ahead.
Certain recipes can become ritual in and of themselves. This time of year, and especially on Sundays, I love making my chicken thighs with Magic Spice Blend. I bake off a whole sheet pan of them, have a couple for dinner, and find joy in knowing that I have extras to eat for lunch throughout the workweek. And there's immense comfort not just in the eating, but in the cooking as well.
This kind of cooking is, for me, a reliable way to give the weekend a proper send-off and ease into the week ahead. I appreciate the calmness of chopping vegetables and stirring them into butter, standing by the stove with a good book, waiting for a crust to bake or a stew to thicken. Quiet activities that force me to spend time in the kitchen, where I’m most myself.
For this and more, I've gathered 15 dinner menu ideas that are at once warm, soul-satisfying, and relaxing to cook. Dishes that I love eating, on Sunday and every day.
Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs With Magic Spice Blend
Pro tip: Keep this sweet, spicy, smoky spice blend in a jar in your pantry and replenish it often—it's just as good on chicken as it is on cauliflower.
One-Pot Butternut Squash Stew with Fresh Mozzarella
This isn't the bland butternut squash soup you'll get at a fast-casual takeout lunch spot. Recipe developer Carlos C. Olaechea was inspired by pumpkin stew called locro de zapallo, noting this one has "a Peruvian soul and an American body".
Cheater’s Chicken Schnitzel
Restaurant-quality chicken schnitzel, but easier than your classic (and messy) flour and egg-dredging station? Sign me up.
Pesto Risotto for One With Shrimp
Looks like spring, but this creamy dinner is just as cozy on a cold night.
French Bread Pepperoni Pizza
Pizza night at home just got 500 percent easier. Thank you, bread!
Sheet-Pan Seafood Pot Pie
If you keep an emergency pie crust in the freezer at all times (just me?), this recipe comes together relatively easily, but it's always a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Kabocha Squash & Tofu Curry
Creamy kabocha squash (though you can use butternut, or even sweet potatoes in a pinch) paired with coconut milk and red curry paste is the stuff of dreams after a long day.
Busy Weeknight Bean Chili
Don't skip the crispy bean step in this minimal-ingredient, big-flavor meal. And hey! Now you have time to make cornbread.
Dad's South Indian Egg Curry
This pantry- and fridge-staple curry is best served with a giant pile of naan or fluffy rice, for getting every last drip of the sauce.
Pot Roast With 40 Garlic Cloves
Not a typo! This pot roast is seasoned with 40 cloves of garlic. Unless you have all afternoon, you may want to opt for pre-peeled garlic in this recipe.
Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp
These shrimp are the stuff of weeknight dreams: fast, flavor-packed, and made with ingredients you very likely have on hand. I keep a bag of frozen, shell-on shrimp in my freezer at all times to throw this dish together at a moment’s notice. As Toni Tipton-Martin writes, be sure to serve alongside hunks of French bread to sop up the delicious sauce.
Garlicky Chicken With Herbs & Vinegar
Another dish (and another sauce) you’ll want to savor ‘til the last drop. Editor Rebecca Firkser’s adaptation of a New Jersey classic will become a new family favorite, just give it a try. Chicken legs and thighs get covered with a salty, umami-packed cheese and herb mixture, then baked and served smothered in a bright, tangy vinegar sauce. I like to serve it directly over rice so that none of the perfect sauce is wasted.
This is not your mother’s recipe taken from the side of a soup can. Miso paste lends a funky, earthy saltiness to this dish, which takes a classic creamy mushroom pasta to another level. It feels familiar and comforting yet at the same time, thoroughly modern.
Ditalini With Tender Herbs, Chickpeas & Yogurt
One of my favorite winter meals is pasta e ceci—chickpeas and ditalini pasta, typically with tomato and hearty greens like kale or escarole. Sohla El-Waylly’s one-pot recipe updates this classic with punchy swaps like anchovy fillets for tomatoes and tender herbs for hearty greens. What stays in a deep sense of comfort in the form of a warm bowl of creamy beans and salty pasta.
Sheet Pan Mac & Cheese
Nothing says comfort like mac and cheese, and nothing says simple like a sheet-pan dinner. Luckily, Food52 Founder Amanda Hesser came up with a version that’s the best of both worlds. This bakes in a fraction of the time as the classic version, yet delivers all the same warm, cheesy goodness—plus added crunch. If you’re the type of person that likes to pick the crunchy noodles off the top of a casserole dish, this is the recipe for you.
What do you like to cook to ward off the Sunday Scaries? Let us know in the comments below.
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).Order now