Quick dinners for busy weeknights

What are the tried-and-true dinners you whip up when you're short on time (or tired, or hungry, or both) and want to make dinner quickly, and with ease? Share your go-to's with our community below!

Emily Kochman


HalfPint May 25, 2021
My mother use to make this for quick dinners when she was too tired to cook as she usually did (usually 3 dishes to be served with rice): prep a pot (rice cooker) of rice to be cooked, add 1 whole uncracked egg per person (yes, just lay them gently on top), then click the button and let it cook. When the rice is done (ie. the beep of the rice cooker), scoop out the eggs, peel, and mash with a little fish sauce. Serve with the hot rice. While the rice & eggs are cooking, she might quickly sauté some greens as a side.
Emily K. May 25, 2021
The perfect quick dinner—thanks so much, HalfPint!
Kristen W. May 25, 2021
The quickest dinner-type meal I have in rotation (other than leftovers) is a nuked Yukon gold potato topped with butter, a little BBQ sauce, cubed rotisserie chicken tossed in a little more BBQ sauce, a heap of steamed broccoli and some sharp cheddar. Not particularly sophisticated at all but I have to say, I enjoy it every time.

Other quick/easy meals: Marcella Tomato-butter sauce with blanched/squeezed/chopped spinach added over pasta (all the better if I already have the tomato sauce and or spinach ready to go in the freezer. Sauce takes a while if I don’t have it in the freezer but it’s mostly passive cooking. Can add a green salad if I have time/inclination.

Southwest-type salad: romaine, whatever raw veg you have (I like carrots, tomatoes, peppers), corn, black beans, avocado, cheddar, with cubed rotisserie chicken, and crumbled corn chips, dressed with store bought ranch mixed with BBQ sauce.

Sheet pan bake with boneless skinless chicken thighs, cauliflower and onion tossed in EVOO and ras el hanout, served in a pita with quick garlic-yoghurt sauce.

Good tuna, chickpea and arugula salad in a red wine vinaigrette (maybe with some Dijon in there) with good bread and butter on the side.

Quiche/tart with store-bought crust and whatever veg I have in the crisper + whatever cheese. Takes time in the oven but the active part is pretty quick.
Emily K. May 25, 2021
Wow, such great ideas here, thanks for taking the time to share them! And can't help but notice how well this quiche/tart prep would work for a clear-out-the-fridge dinner, too.
702551 May 24, 2021
I'm happy to use leftovers for a quick meal. In many ways, the leftovers exist because I know I can't always make a full dinner from scratch every night.

Sometimes microwaving a bunch of ready-to-eat items is expedient.

Other times I might make a leftover catchall dish like fried rice. It really depends on my mood and what today's inventory is.

For sure I use *NO* recipes making these kind of meals. Just use your best judgment based on your available ingredients and who will be sitting at the dinner table.

For decades we have seen experienced professional chefs be more impressed on TV by impromptu meals from home cooks versus carefully planned extravaganzas executed by a brigade of pros.

Look at what you have and assess the diners who will be at your table.

Execute accordingly. The end results might be different from home cooks based in Japan, Peru or Norway but the basic thought process will be the same.
Emily K. May 25, 2021
Thanks so much for these thoughts, 702551—being able to reach into the fridge for leftovers you know you'll enjoy can make all the difference during a busy week (or any week, really).
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