Weeknight Cooking

5 Really Easy Dinner Ideas, Because You're Gonna Cook a Bunch This Week

Simple and speedy standbys, so you can get ready for Turkey Day.

November 20, 2018
Photo by James Ransom

It’s Thanksgiving week! Shopping lists have been made, turkeys have been sourced, and roasting pans are at the ready. But as you’re preparing yourself for Thursday’s cooking marathon, don't forget to rustle something up for dinner in the days before. You’ll also want to clear out your fridge of all its various odds and ends, making way for the holiday bounty. Do yourself a favor this week and try out a few no-fuss, ready-in-a-flash recipes, mining your existing pantry for ideas on how to choose your own adventure. They're from our newest guide to weeknight dinners, Cook in the Blank, and they're here to help.

See below five fill-in-the-blank templates for a comfy noodle soup; a toasty grilled cheese; a cheesy, bubbling baked pasta; and speedy baked eggs—plus, one bonus for hearty meatballs—all ready before you can say “gobble, gobble.”

Best part is, any early guests who arrive in the days leading up to Thanksgiving can join in on the fun while you cook, calling out suggestions on how to fill in those blanks (a delicious alternative to Scrabble and family-trip slideshows, if I say so myself).

First, we'll start with a classic: Here's a grilled cheese recipe template so you can make it your own. Bonus: it includes a quicker-than-quick tomato-soup recipe, too.

And if baked eggs are your thing, you can riff on them by filling in this recipe with whatever bits and bobs you wish. My favorite is an Ottolenghi-inspired, smoky–spicy kind of situation, but the choice is yours.

Bubbling baked pasta can be an adventure, too—just try your hand at the recipe here. Maybe you'll want to add in some bacon or pancetta; some kale or collard greens; a buttery bread crumb crust; or all of the above.

For a no-fuss, all-comfort noodle soup that will warm your soul (and belly), look no further.

Last but not least, here's a brand-new recipe template for tender meatballs. Take inspiration from the flavors in Rao's meatballs below—or feel free to make them your own way.

If you do cook-in-the-blank, we’d love to see what you make. Just print out the recipe template, fill it out to your heart’s desire, and snap a photo of it to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, with the hashtag #CookInTheBlank.

Can’t wait to see what you dream up!

What are your go-to, fast-as-heck dinners for the week leading up to a holiday feast? Let us know in the comments! And if you're looking for more ideas, check out Cook in the Blank, out now!

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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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