I have a list of go to recipes for when I don’t really know what to make for dinner. Most of them are dishes where I always have the ingredients in the house. Some of them I might need to pick up one or two items. Regardless they are all delicious and pretty easy to make.
I like to cook, but not all the time. I’ve dubbed myself the lazy cook of the house. If it requires more than one pan or requires more than 15 minutes of prep work I sometimes just don’t have the motivation to do it.
So if you have a busy schedule, want easy meals that are delicious and sometimes healthy, or just need new ideas for your own go to recipe log, these recipes will help. You can also try a meal planning service like eMeals which is an easy way to plan your dinners and do the shopping for them in one easy to use app.
Sharing Easy Recipes
I didn’t know if I would get into sharing my own recipes because quite honestly, I don’t consider myself an expert of cooking. I didn’t go to school for it, I didn’t train for it.
However, the more I looked for recipes, the more I saw a need for quick and easy meals you can cook up for a large family or have leftovers for a couple of days.
We are a family of three and my 6 year old is a picky eater. Most of the time he won’t even touch what I make for dinner, despite how much my husband and I love it. Still I cook like I’m cooking for a family of 6. We have leftovers for days with most of these recipes.
For us, cooking large amounts and having leftovers saves me time and dishes when I don’t have to cook the next day. Plus most of these dishes are actually better the next day.
Cook With Your Senses
I cook using my senses. My mom calls it cooking from the heart. I rarely use actual measurements and believe in the season to taste method.
I cook based on smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. Does the seasoning smell like it would fit the style of dish I’m making? Can I taste the seasoning? Are the noodles firm, soft, or just right? Is the water cooking off with that sizzle and hiss? Does the dish look delicious?
You can follow a recipe, but if you don’t use your senses how can you determine if it needs something before you serve it? Always use your senses.
Get To Know Your Spices
Spices are amazing and if you aren’t using them you are missing out. I learned how to properly use spices when we were following a vegan diet. Surprised right?
Well we were eating a lot of chickpeas, beans, and tofu and these things need flavor. So I had to add a good amount of spices to each dish to make it satisfying, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to stick to the diet for as long as we did.
I learned quickly, meat doesn’t often provide the flavor to a meal, unless it’s bacon or similar processed meat, it’s the spices that bring flavor. This is why we didn’t miss meat when we went vegan. Our reason for stopping was because my husband needed more protein in his diet in order for his body to function properly.
Now that we have small portions of meat back in our diet, that meat gets seasoned well. Our food tastes better because we use a lot of seasoning.
I highly recommend keeping these spices in your spice cabinet.
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Black and White Pepper
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Curry Powder
With these you can make any dish flavorful, and don’t be afraid to use a good amount of it. Your peppers, curry, and chili powder are the only ones that have heat where you might need to limit or be careful of how much you add.
10 Easy Dinners That We Love
Below are our absolute favorite dishes. These range from comfort food to experimental dishes that turned out pretty wonderful. We have vegan, vegetarian, low carb, and just good old fashion cooking in this list so there is likely something you will want to try.
Classic Easy Tuna Casserole
Before this recipe a month or so ago I had never made a true classic tuna casserole. But one night my husband and I were craving comfort food and we had loads of stock left over. I decided to try my hand at a Tuna Casserole and it turned out fantastic.
In this recipe I made my own bread crumbs for the topping because I don’t keep those on hand in the pantry. If you do keep bread crumbs around in your pantry feel free to use those instead.
The thing that really made this recipe taste great though was the cream of onion condensed soup I used. It added a fantastic french onion flavor to this Tuna Casserole and it’s now a favorite on our list.
Cheap and Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
This is not traditional Spaghetti Carbonara and I’m sorry to the Italians that might be reading this. This is a broke version of Carbonara. During a time when money was tight this was the easiest filling dish I could make and it really is delicious.
This recipe is made with bacon instead of Pancetta. I get plenty of bacon when I can get it on sale. The biggest trick to making Carbonara is in the mixing of the egg with the pasta. If you are on an electric stove like I am, turn your burner off as soon as the bacon is cooked and let it sit for a few minutes before you drain your pasta.
The heat from the pasta will cook the egg just enough that you’ll have a fantastic and smooth sauce. It takes a bit of practice and you might end up with a few pieces of cooked scrambled egg in there but it’s ok and still good.
Delicious and Easy Spanish Tortilla
Spanish Tortilla is not tortilla shells you get in bags from the grocery store. It’s actually more like a potato omelet. In Spain it’s a popular dish for pretty much any time of day.
We found out about it through a YouTube channel called Spain Revealed. It was here that I started getting interested in all the different types of food you can find in Spain. The Tortilla was the easiest dish I could test first.
After early testing with broken tortillas and failed flips, I finally figured out this recipe that requires no flipping and it’s perfect. It might not be exactly what you will get in Spain but from what I can tell it’s close and it’s a filling and delicious easy dinner.
Chicken and Penne with Butternut Squash Sauce
This was one of those recipes that I came up with on a whim. I had cut up butternut squash in the fridge that I needed to use so I thought I’d whip up a sauce for a chicken and noodle dish.
Be warned you will need either an immersion blender or high speed blender to make this. I use my Blendtec blender for this sauce and it’s delicious.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
We really like Spaghetti Squash in this house. It’s a great healthy alternative to getting pasta like dishes without all the extra carbs. I’ve made spaghetti squash a handful of different ways but this is by far our favorite.
It’s flavorful and filling without making you feel bloated or tired like how you get when you eat a large pasta dish. You will need to remove the sausage skin from sausage links or get ground Italian sausage.
I prefer a mild or sweet Italian sausage though if you like spicy you can use that too. It’s really about what you are looking to get out of your dinner.
Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
I have never been a big Curry fan, however, my husband happens to love all different types of curry. When we were Vegan I decided to try to make curry myself. What I learned is curry is just simply a spicy or savory stew that is typically served over rice or a noodle.
I like mixing my spicy and sweet together so when I was making this curry I decided my vegetable of choice would be the sweet potato. It adds just the right amount of sweetness to make the curry more savory than spicy.
I’ve added eggplant, squash, and other vegetables to this dish but it’s not necessary. Adding extra vegetables just makes the dish last longer and give you more leftovers. If you have a large family you need to feed, adding eggplant is a great way to stretch the dish out further and feed everyone.
Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Do you remember how I said my son is a picky eater. Well this is the one dish that I make that he goes bonkers for. He loves my homemade mac and cheese.
This is a super easy recipe that just gets cooked in the Instant Pot. It needs no straining or extra dishes at all. It’s also a great last minute meal when you just don’t feel like cooking. It takes about 20 minutes to put together after you cook the pasta in the instant pot.
If you want a more baked taste or toasted bread crumbs on top you can bake this mac and cheese too. After you cook it in the instant pot, you can transfer it to a baking dish, top with your bread crumbs and extra cheese, and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until the extra cheese and bread crumbs are golden.
Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
I’m a one pot spaghetti person but sometimes when you are whipping up a quick spaghetti dinner it can end up bland and needing to be loaded with extra cheeses. Cooking spaghetti in the instant pot is a one pot way to make spaghetti that is filled with flavor.
While this takes a bit of prep by cooking the beef or italian sausage on saute before adding your pasta, over all once you seal the lid it’s pretty much just a cook and go recipe.
This is an easy, always have ingredients on hand, recipe for a busy weeknight. It’s a go to when we haven’t really planned or we just don’t feel like spending loads of time cooking.
Easy Instant Pot Pepper Chili
Everyone has a favorite chili recipe. Sometimes they contain meat, sometimes beans, and there is always a discourse about what makes a chili. To me a chili is simply savory stew with a little bit of a spicy kick.
My pepper chili contains loads of bell peppers and lots of different ingredients to create a delicious meal. Typically my chili will serve us for dinner, lunch the next day, and another meal. So it’s about 6 or more servings every time I make it.
You could easily freeze 2 servings for an easy to make dinner a couple weeks later. With soups and stews it’s often a good idea to freeze a portion or two for an easy lunch or dinner.
Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
My husband swears by this Chicken Noodle Soup. Anytime we start feeling a bit under the weather I make this soup and we feel instantly better. I swear it’s the black pepper that I use for it.
I will often make some french bread to serve with this soup as it’s just the perfect combination and filling.
Like with my chili this soup will serve us for several meals, though I should warn you, the noodles in this soup will soak up most of the water overnight in the fridge. It’s better to take the leftovers and bake it with cheese the next day for Chicken Noodle Casserole.
Easy Dinners For When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking
There are times when I just don’t feel like cooking and these dishes are my go to when that happens. Typically I have enough leftovers that I can get a few meals out of it that I’ve only cooked once for.
Forgetting to defrost something is the main reason why we order takeout or delivery. Having a couple of meat free dishes in our go to list is a great way to stay prepared to cook when I forget to defrost meat.
Avoiding takeout or delivery is easier when you have a few go to meals where you can easily keep ingredients on hand or the ingredients are easy to get. It’s also easier when you’ve done all your meal planning and shopping using eMeals.
Which meals are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite dinner boards.